"It's just one water bottle"
-said 7 billion people
A lot of what we throw away ends up in our beautiful oceans and ecosystems, threatening the lives of all wildlife. Not to mention daily habits that could be harming the environment in other ways. Here's what you can do to help make a difference! And YOU CAN make a difference.
BUY IN BULK
Buying in bulk is the easiest way to cut down on food packaging. It can also be cheaper because packaging accounts for 8% of the total cost of food. Bulk allows you to buy as much as you need and not worry about whether the packaging is recyclable or where it's going, because it's not there! You can bring your own jars, pouches, bags, containers, as long as you take note of their tare weight (the weight of the container itself). You can either write the weight on the container/bag with a sharpie/marker, write it in your phone or tell the cashier at check-out. And don't forget the code (PLU) of the product you're buying, which you can also write on the container itself, in your phone or tell the cashier!
USE WHAT YOU HAVE
Although it may be tempting to plastic-proof your home, it's a very easy way to break the bank and also contributes to consumerism (it unnecessarily takes up energy and resources to create something). Using what you already have, such as plastic tupperware, is already a great way to avoid sending things to landfill and saving resources. Use them until they're falling apart and then find a way to recycle or repurpose them. Also, I should add, it may not be a bad idea to invest in glass tupperware if you currently use plastic tupperware in the microwave. Plastic, when heated up, leaks toxins into foods/liquids, so be mindful! But some other things you can definitely still use are old toothbrushes (seen in the photo) which can be used for cleaning, and also old containers that you can refill at a bulk store near you if that's an option!
Food waste is a huge issue all over the world. 72 billion pounds of food is wasted each year in the U.S. alone. When food goes to landfill, it's not given the amount of oxygen it needs to decompose properly, thereby producing harmful greenhouse gas (methane) that contributes to global warming. This happens because landfills are composed of sealed plastic enclosures in the ground. No soil means no proper decomposition. Composting keeps food waste out of landfills and brings it back to the earth where it belongs!
LOOK FOR PLASTIC FREE OPTIONS
When you're shopping for a product, make sure to find out if it's available in glass! Things like vinegar, food items, supplements, even makeup. After all, glass is 100% recyclable indefinitely, whereas plastic can usually only be recycled once.
Cardboard can be composted, and tin/metal is usually pretty easy to recycle, otherwise you could just reuse the container!
While recycling is a good way of reducing what goes to landfill, it's not a long-term solution. Recycling can be very unreliable because many recycling facilities are very specific about what they can and can't accept. A study found that only 8% of plastics are recycled in the U.S. A better solution would be to eliminate plastics and thereby the need to recycle. Although, glass and metal are indefinitely recyclable, meaning they can be recycled over and over again and not lose quality. Whereas plastic can only be recycled once before it begins to break apart.
Buying right into the waste-stream helps the environment by keeping more clothes from going to waste, and saves many other resources such as energy and water. It takes about 50 gallons of water to produce one T-shirt! And buying brand new clothing creates a demand for it, meaning another piece of clothing will replace the one you just bought. Although, if you have to buy new, look into buying from sustainable and ethical businesses who's primary focus is the environment. Check out the app or website Good On You for a rating on your favorite brands. But remember, buying used clothing is much cheaper than new clothing and keeps clothing from going to waste.
HANG DRY LAUNDRY
Hang drying when possible helps cut down the electricity bill (by a lot), saves energy and lengthens the life of your clothing. Drying your clothes may also cause irreparable damage such as shrinkage, color fade, and even actual tears to the material. A study found that drying your clothes causes twice as much shrinkage as washing, and tumble drying causes twice as much shrinkage as air drying. Your clothes may also be losing a portion of their fabric to the lint tray. Every time you throw your clothes in the dryer, microscopic tears appear in the fabric, which is where your lint tray comes in to collect. Line dry your clothes, if possible, and you'll see they last much longer!
The number 1 thing you can do to truly make a difference to the destruction of our environment is adopting a vegan diet. A recent study shows that animal agriculture has surpassed transportation emissions and is now the leading cause of global warming and climate change. The affects of this are coming a lot sooner than we'd hoped which will cause catastrophic weather events, flooding, desert expansion, environmental migrations, and a major change in our global economy. So instead of trying to outlive the problems and leave the planet unlivable for our future generations, do something! Be a part of the change. Going vegan will make a difference and people will only wish they had done it sooner, I definitely do!
Jumping right in to a veg lifestyle isn't done overnight, so start out slow, perhaps as a vegetarian and you'll see how much easier and plentiful this diet actually is. I used to think vegans just ate salad, but the truth is there is an insane amount of variety and vegan options. I've veganized my favorite meals but I've also developed a greater taste for vegetables! I've also never been healthier or happier, especially now that veganism is easier than ever! New restaurants are opening all the time and more and more are offering vegan options.
TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS
Depending on your water flow, a typical 5 minute shower can be approximately 20 gallons of water. You can imagine the shock on my face when my climate change professor confessed he takes 30 minute showers. Fresh water is beocming a bigger and bigger problem as we face the consequences of water pollution and global warming. About 45% of the global population currently doesn't even have access to clean water or santitaion and only 2% of the earth's water is fresh (not salted). Something to think about next time you find yourself standing in the shower doing nothing. I now wash my hair every two days, which has made my hair healthier and saved me money on the water bill. When I don't wash my hair, I throw the shower cap on, rinse my bod, turn the water off, lather up then rinse the soap off. May be a hard adjustement, but now it's part of my routine!
UTILIZE PUBLIC TRANSPORTION
The transportation sector of the world has a major impact of Co2 emsissions and global warming, while also contributing to water and air pollution which causes illness and envionmental damage. Choosing to take public transportation instead of driving yourself is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. If money isn't an issue, consider purchasing an electic car. Electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and cheaper and more accessible. I belive Honda has one in the low 20k price point which is pretty good for an electric car.