Green living – Let’s Break it down!
Trying to genuinely reduce your impact on our planet can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! We’re going to break it down (pun intended) for you.
We see the problem, now what can we do? You’ve probably heard the phrase: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Let me change it up for you, in order of importance: Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.
Reduce: Such a simple concept, but this is truly the most effective strategy for wasting less- Useless. We live in a consumer society with an unending barrage of advertising, marketing, and cute puppy commercials to hypnotize us into getting that next thing. “Trust us, look at how happy these people are now that they bought that gizmo-ma-jig deal…” Yet, having a nicer car or more junk to stuff into your house won’t buy you happiness. It’s not evil to want a new pair of shoes. So, this one is the most subjective. THere’s no definite amount of ‘stuff’ that is too much. Everyone is different. BUT- we all have the ability to use and want (or work to want) less. If we can be conscious of our purchasing, we can have a HUGE impact on our planet- and the people, animals, & plants who live on this big rock.
Reuse: But hey, we actually need some stuff. There are a few tricks to what we buy that can help reside our waste footprint.
- Buy fewer single-use products. Simple enough. Instead of buying mini bags of goldfish for your kids lunches, buy one of those giant boxes, then every time you pour some fish out, you are reuseing.
- Buy used. Check the thrift store when you need a new pair of jeans, a new night stand, or even a new book. You never know, and half the fun is the treasure hunt! Offerup, and app for iphone and android, is an incredible place to find used items. In our age of technology, almost anything you are looking for can be found used, like new, or open-box.
- Give things new lives. Turn a beer can into a succulent planter, create a pencil bag from torn jeans, etc. When you are about to throw something into the trash, ask yourself “what could I do with this?” My kids are good about this… Maybe too good.
- Buy quality products. In a world of quick fashion, amazon, and dollar stores; it’s easy to find the cheapest deal. But the old adage “You get what you pay for” is pretty accurate. Instead of having 30 shirts from Forever21, find 10 ethically sourced, quality shirts that will last for years instead of fall apart in a few months.
- Give it to someone. Before you trash something, ask around. Check your local NextDoor community, craigslist, or craigslist to see if someone is looking for a free pile of beat-up wood or whatever. You’d be surprised!
- DONATE! Your local thrift store is eager to take your old kitchen supplies, ugly desk, or those t-shirts that have just been sitting at the bottom of your closet for the last year.
Repair: Sounds way harder than it is! Youtube is insane. You can find tutorials on how to fix a mixer, those torn jeans, your kid’s toys, the doorknob that keeps sticking, etc. When your vacuum won’t work and you’ve exhausted youtube, you could also help a small business stay in business by bringing it to your local repair shop. You’d be surprised how cheap it can be, and you might meet an interesting craftsman. This relates back to purchasing quality products. Cheap junk is made to be thrown away in its quick-yet-inevitable demise. Quality products break less but are made with premium parts that are replaceable or themselves repairable. A simple soldering comprehension has helped me save many, many electronics!
Recycle: The sexy one… Let’s start with the why: Why is recycling so complicated? There’s plenty of blame to spread around. Most consumable packaging is just NOT easily recyclable. Many of the plastics you find that have those recycled logos with a number in the middles (We’re looking at you #7s!) aren’t actually recyclable for consumers, which seems silly, right? Well, that’s on purpose. Consumer plastic recycling was a clever marketing gimmick created by the plastic makers to put the responsibility of the overflowing landfills on the shoulders of the users and off of the creators. Ugh, let’s move on. What can I recycle?
•Drink bottles and Cans: Many cities and states have bottle recycling set up and in many places, grocery stores have kiosks set up, so it’s super easy!. You might be charged 5 or 10 cents per drink when you buy them anyways. Might as well get your money back!
•Some Plastics: Your local trash service will take some (but not most) plastics to recycle. One quip; the plastic must be rinsed out and can only be the specific type of plastic your area takes. Adding in soiled plastics or plastics your trash service doesn’t take can cause serious issues for their recycling plant. So be careful!
•Glass: This is a two for one. There are so many uses for glass, so check if you can find another use… jelly jars make great daily drinking glasses, a soda glass makes a cute single flower vase, etc. If not, glass is nearly infinitely recyclable!
•Aluminum: Also nearly infinitely recyclable. Just clean off that foil before you throw it in the recycle bin. Bonus pro tip: If you have large quants of aluminum (ahem, Salons)- your local metal recyclers are more than happy to recycle your dirty aluminum. Don’t be intimidated by the huge semi-trucks in line, they are more than happy to pay you for a few trash bags of aluminum.
•Other Metal: Those same metal recyclers don’t care if you have 5 pounds of copper, an old bicycle frame, or any other metal. They will pay you for it!
You can make an impact. It may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t take much to change the way you look at consumption. Make s few small changes to how you deal with your junk, trash, and waste.
If we all do something small, it becomes something big.
You can be a part of a better world. You can make a better world.