by Mia & Samantha
KISS THE EARTH
As of 2015, more than 6.9 billion tons of plastic waste had been generated. Around 9 percent of that was recycled, 12 percent was incinerated, and 79 percent accumulated in landfills or environment.
In Boston, it is especially difficult to recycle. In order to recycle, I have to separate my recyclables into a clear plastic bag. Most people disperse of these clear plastic bags on the sidewalks, leaving the garbage men to differentiate between trash and recyclable. I put in the extra effort, and bring them around the block to a bin labeled for recycling, to try to ensure there will be no confusion. Despite this, many of the recyclables do not even end up being recycled for a variety of different reasons. ~M
Does anyone else find it incredibly cathartic to break down cardboard boxes and rinse out glass jars? No? Just me? Where I live, trash collection services are not covered by the town. We are required to bring our trash and recyclables to the town dump, or pay a private company to pick it up. The public workers at the dump are dedicated to proper recycling and are helpful with sorting tips and regulations. ~S
Pro-tip: If you are curious about how to recycle a particular item/material, visit your local dump!
The average time that a plastic bag is used for is… 12 minutes.
I regard reusing materials as very important. I reuse specific items that many people overlook and throw in the garbage after one use. For example, I eat dry oats as a snack out of a plastic bag. I reuse the same bag for a very long time before I discard it. Also, when I am gifted a present or sent a package, I keep the tissue paper, ribbon, and anything else. It is convenient when I am wrapping a present last minute and have a bunch of wrapping supplies on hand, and it is free to recycle or reuse it. I also reuse the plastic bags I get from stores as garbage bags for my small trash bins. I use a re-usable grocery bag when I can remember to grab one before I leave the house. Also, when my style has outgrown my clothes, I donate them or pass them along to friends. ~M
More than 40 percent of plastic is used just once, then tossed.
According to a 2006 report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock cultivation, chiefly for meat production, accounts for nearly one-fifth of total worldwide greenhouse gases, the main drivers of global warming.
According to FAO, about 2.7 percent of total worldwide greenhouse gases come from milk production.
A May 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition paper from Sweden emphasizes: “Plant foods based on vegetables, cereals, and legumes present the lowest greenhouse gas emissions with the exception of those transported by airplanes … Changes toward a more plant-based diet could help substantially in mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases.”
Clearly, my being vegan significantly reduces my ecological footprint. ~M
Almost five years ago on New Years Eve, I made a vow to cut it out for good. I have never looked back and never felt better. ~S
Nearly three quarters of what we throw away is products, with organic materials (food and yard waste) make up the remaining 25%.
EPA, 2009. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2008.
I collect usable trash from the sidewalks in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. These items include brand new clothes, furniture, books, decor, unexpired food, and much, much more. Every time I grab an item I feel as though I am saving it from a landfill and helping it transition into a new life. ~M
Worldwide, 73 percent of beach litter is plastic: filters from cigarette butts, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers.
I collect trash pollution that washes up on the ocean near my house in New Hampshire when I am looking for sea glass. Not so shockingly, there is a LOT more trash than treasures. Most commonly, I find fishing debris and bits of plastic. ~S
Pro-tip: Sign up for a group clean-up at your local beach or state park! Get your kids involved, it is a great teaching-moment.
Turn Off the Lights
A single light left on overnight over a year accounts for as much greenhouse gas as a car drive from Cambridge to Paris [a six hour drive].
I believe this is one of the most important tasks I consciously complete to minimize my ecological footprint. ~M
To take it one step further, I always make sure to unplug anything that I am not using. Appliances such as lamps, phone chargers, and coffee makers are still using energy even when they are not in use! This is called “standby” electricity loss. ~S
Pro-tip: Use the natural sunlight for as long as you can and burn candles at night.
BAN Plastic Straws
500 million straws are used in the US everyday… 500 million straws per day is an average of 1.6 straws per person (in the US) per day. Based on this national average, each person in the US will use approximately 38,000 or more straws between the ages of 5 and 65.
In the past I used a plastic straw in my smoothie every morning until I realized how unenvironmentaly freindly it was to do so. I completely stopped using them and drink it without a straw at all, it tastes the exact same. When I go out, I never ask for a straw in my drink and if I am given a straw I will never use it unless it is unwrapped, because then they would not be able to take it to another customer after me and the straw would already have been wasted. ~M
I love straws! I am one of those people who uses one for every glass of water, and have even been known to drink wine through a straw. Because of my love for straws, I learned about the different types well before the recent #banplasticstraws movement. There are paper straws, silicone straws, metal straws, the choices are endless! I mean, since plastic literally does not disintegrate, it is really a no-brainer to stop using them. ~S
Pro tip: If you like to use straws, bring you own reusable ones to restaurants/bars!
Re-Usable Water Bottles
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
I think this practice reduces my ecological footprint drastically. I drink a lot of water, roughly 100 ounces per day, so using a re-usable water bottle, as opposed to a plastic one, makes a huge difference. ~M
It warms my heart to see reusable water bottles trending. Today’s market is filled with them! There are endless varieties of materials, sizes, and styles. Isles at Home Goods and Target are dedicated solely to reusable water bottles. My personal favorites are water bottles made from durable glass or the Brita brand, which are perfect for those who do not have access to clean, filtered water. ~S
Eco Friendly Products
When shopping for eco-friendly products, look for:
- Energy Star – for appliances and electronics that are energy saving
- USDA Organic Seal – for cosmetics and foods that truly are organic
- Green Seal – for cleaning products that are safe for the environment
- Forest Stewardship Council Logo – for paper and wood products
If you do not see these seals or logos on your products, there is a good chance that they are not actually eco-friendly.
I prefer to buy organic products in any given case where I have the opportunity to do so. Also, I make sure that the dog poop bags I buy are compostable and I purchase recycled clothing from Whole Foods Market. ~M
The main effort that I make in regard to eco-friendly products is banning leather products entirely. Additionally, my sandwich baggies are silicone and reusable, my food containers are glass, and all of the cleaning products I use are from Method, Seventh Generation, or other companies that I find at the local farmer’s market! ~S
Please comment below the things you do to be environmentally friendly and check out ⇒ Ocean Pollution: Causes, Effects, & What You Can Do to Help!