Source: New Hampshire Environmental Services
It's no secret that we all individually make a lot of trash, it can seem unavoidable in this world of single-size serving packets and those little things Starbucks gives you to make it so your coffee doesn't spill out of the cup. Really, all of this stuff becomes a single-use nightmare of trash. There are masses trash amassing around the world and we have even changed the consistency of bodies of water with our plastic beads. We use gasoline to create plastic that is used fleetingly and we seem to be barreling deeper and deeper into new, fun, rad! packaging that only serves to create deeper and deeper mountains of trash.
And we are all sitting here scratching our heads, how did it get this way? It certainly hasn't always been like this. People used to mill their own grain, grind their own coffee, and not put produce into individual bags at the store. Water, until recently, did not come in pre-bottled form. All in all, the modern life can leave you feeling helpless. The design of convenience has disempowered an entire generation, most of us don't know how to cook, make our own products, or how to fix things when they break. We simply toss the old and bring in the new. And this habit is quickly degrading our planet. And all for what? For ease? It seems like the easy life is killing us from the inside out- we are the most depressed nation in the world. Not to get terribly heavy with this, but we have to talk. We are all guilty of feeding into this cycle and in a way, it isn't our faults but we have awoken to reality and it is time to take action.
A few months ago we stumbled across this Ted Talk, where a young student named Lauren Singer spoke about how she felt a great disconnect between what she studied and how she lived. As an eco-based major, she looked at her mounting piles of garbage in her home and realized that she was just another part in this whole problem. And she did something about it. She took power back into her own hands and you can too. And we are going to share with you our progress to creating less waste and share tips that have helped us:
**Before you move forward, you need to take a step back and look at your life. Go through your kitchen and look at what you are buying. Is it covered in packaging? And take a week to measure the amount of trash bags created. What are you throwing away? (Lauren Singer's website has a detailed breakdown of this evaluation technique as well). We all have our own little habits that will take some time to dismantle.
1. Buy a Reusable Cup & Water Bottle - This is a big one, plastic bottles take years to decompose in landfills. And if you do use a bottle, RECYCLE IT. A second biggie is that if you buy coffee/tea out, bring a reusable cup. There is no excuse not to, these cups are one of the biggest littered items we find when we pick up trash. It's a momentary thing that saves so much in the long run.
2. Stop Buying New Stuff - Clothing is one of the biggest trash producing industries, go vintage or even try your hand at making something. You don't need to buy every single appliance first-hand. Reuse saves the planet. And if you don't feel particularly crafty, look into brands that use eco-friendly textiles like hemp. Use your money to support companies that support our world.
3. Buy in BULK - A major causer of trash in our own house was all of the food containers, boxes, and bags that we got from the store. We've trimmed our lifestyle down and found stores that have hefty bulk sections so we can bring our own containers in. Don't have any containers? Mason jars work amazingly and are dirt cheap (and you can also buy them second-hand). You can also buy reusable product bags and get rid of those pesky plastic waste sacks that the stores provide.
4. BYOGrocery Bags - In the Bay Area, they have a bag tax - all bags (only paper ones are offered) cost 25 cents to buy. This may sound extreme to most people but it reduces waste exponentially. At our local store, I rarely see people get bags. Push for this legislation in your own cities, it matters big-time. And in the mean-time, buy reusable bags. It doesn't just cut down on waste, you can fit more in the big bags and have an easier time transporting your goods.
5. Make Your Own Products - Toothpaste, Laundry Detergent. The list goes on. I've shared a couple of favorite recipes below. All ingredients for these things can be bought in bulk and can be a big money saver in the long run. All those products add up, especially if you normally buy organic.
Toothpaste Facts & Toothpaste Recipe
6. Daily Habits - A big thing isn't just the trash we create at home, it's the trash we create when we go out into the world. Instead of buying food on a lunch break, bring food from home in a reusable container. No recycling can around? Take recyclables with you and sort them later. Stop using single-use straws.
7. LEARN HOW TO RECYCLE - This last one is a big one. We oftentimes throw out things that can be recycled and this is such a painful facepalm. Go here for more info. This isn't the end all be all of recycling, but it's a start. Do your research and check with local recycling centers to see what you can and can't contribute in your area.
We know, it's a lot. But overall it is just small daily actions on an individual basis that really do add up in the end. Challenge yourself to make less and less trash on a weekly basis. And notice how you feel when you create things rather than buy, when you reuse rather than waste. It's a whole new world.
See you next week for Part 3 - Nourish That Body
Sara & Kyle