BY BROOKLYN PINHEIRO
With climate change ever looming over us with scary statistics like the fact that we’ve surpassed our resources limit for the year by August 2nd, and that even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today the earth would still have a very deep wound to heal, it’s easy to feel helpless among it all.
While the earth does need some serious intervention, there are little things that everyone can do to ease the problem. Changing the way you consume, though seemingly minute, added together can always make a difference.
So here’s a list of some super wasteful things that probably pop up in your everyday life and how to do without them.
Straws gained their popularity in various waves. While some form of straw has existed for centuries, the ones we’re familiar with today became popular as a way to prevent the spreading of diseases in the early 1900s and then again in the 1950s with the emergence of drive-throughs. In 1960 straws became widely manufactured in plastic instead of paper as it was before, and plastic doesn’t decompose.
The couple cocktails or sodas that you drink with a straw might not seem like they matter, but with as many people in the world as there are, it definitely adds up. In the U.S. alone 500 million straws are used and tossed away. Imagine wrapping the earth two and a half times with straws; that’s how much unnecessary plastic in being wasted in the U.S. daily.
The fix? Just ask the bartender or waiter for no straw, trust me they don’t mind.
This one everyone should know about by now. Plastic bags circle in our oceans in masses causing animals to choke on them. They also sit in landfills due to the fact that they can’t decompose. Creating plastic also uses up the non-renewable resources of oil. From beginning to end, its not looking good.
Every year five trillion plastic bags get used worldwide. That’s over 700 a year per person.
This just doesn’t need to happen, especially with the simple alternative of carrying that cute tote bag with the witty saying on it to the grocery store with you. Cutting back on plastic bags has already become an initiative, with most grocery stores now charging customers for bags. Not using plastic bags, which have become such a part of our daily lives, may be hard, but don’t do it to save the five cents, do it to save the earth.
Attention people that menstruate: if you’re not already using a renewable method of time-of-the-month maintenance this idea could be hard to get on board with, but if it helps, its also a huge money saver.
Within the average lifetime of someone who uses period products 62,415 pounds of garbage will be created by tampons, pads and liners. All that garbage also amounts to around $5, 600 in expenses that come out of your pocket. That money could go towards a trip of a lifetime instead of going towards keeping your underwear clean.
There are a couple alternatives to avoid this. One, of course, is the Diva Cup, a reusable product that has little environmental impact. If you are afraid of spilling blood on your pants however, you can still use tampons in an eco-friendly way. Make-it-yourself tampons using washable fabric is a good alternative.
This one is just going to make you angry. One quarter of household energy is used on products that are in idle mode. That means that 25 per cent of your energy bill is going to the little red light on your TV, washing machine screens, the constantly running internet and many more. With overall electronics making up 37 per cent of carbon emissions in the U.S., all this useless energy consumption has a huge impact on the environment.
The best way to combat this is to literally unplug. Just cut off wasteful energy suckers when they are not in use, but be careful because sometimes unplugging things requires a whole reboot when you want to use it next. Also, try to look for energy efficient products or non-electric alternatives for simple tasks.
This is another no-brainer. Not only is constantly buying water bottles a waste of money, but it is well known that they are extremely harmful for the environment. A million plastic bottles are purchased globally every minute and 91 per cent of all plastic does not get recycled.
The most infuriating part of this is that it is extremely avoidable. Water filters can retail from $20 to a couple hundred depending on how serious you want to get, and reusable water bottles can be bought at the dollar store. Reducing the amount of plastic we use in our daily lives can start with getting rid of plastic water bottles. The less plastic floating around in our oceans the better.
You don’t necessarily have to go team natural to avoid this wasteful grooming ritual, it’s all about the type of product you use. The cheap, few-use razors that are popular today amount to two billion a year tossed in the garbage in the U.S. That’s two billion plastic intense products to add to landfills.
If you love the feeling of being silky smooth or trimming facial hair into a stylistic mustache, you can still do that with far less environmental impact. Buying safety razors or straight razors will not only make you feel super cool and save you money, but will last a lifetime. Proper care of the blades will mean only replacing them every month or two while the base, not made of plastic, will last you a lifetime.
Food is the biggest occupant of America’s landfills. Not only is that a slap in the face to everyone struggling to eat, but it’s a waste of resources and money. It’s estimated that 50 per cent of produce is thrown out, which amounts to $160 billion. There are multiple causes for this, a major factor being that people have grown accustomed to produce looking ‘perfect’ which leads to food getting turned away from retailers.
Even if produce does end up in a kitchen, people are likely to throw some away. An average family of four wastes $1,600 in tossed produce a year. This can be combated by being more conscious of how much food we’re buying versus what we actually need. Also being aware of where you get your food from is important, there are retailers who have made it part of there mandate to stock un-ordinary looking fruits and vegetables.
Not over purchasing or not being afraid of different looking food can help reduce the amount of produce waste, which is really just a sad descriptor of the way North America consumes.
Finally, a slight change to the daily coffee pick me up can reduce the 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups used in America per year. When you go to get your morning fix, simply bringing your own mug can help take needless waste out of the environment. There is also the added bonus of saving a few cents off your drink, which most large retailers offer as an incentive to reduce waste.
So there you have it, eight simple ways you can start saving the planet (and your wallet) today, because every bit counts.