This post comes from blog contributor FP Naomi!
One of the biggest problems facing us today is the way we use and dispose of resources. Did you know that average American produces 4.5 pounds of garbage a day? The Earth’s atmosphere has officially reached the highest carbon dioxide concentration ever to occur during man’s existence, and the pace of change is accelerating. These are daunting facts that indeed point to a need for change.
But change most likely won’t happen if we all try to live without everything we’ve become so accustomed to. Understandably, we aren’t willing to give up soft laundry, television, transportable foods… A more realistic strategy is to find ways in which we can maintain our quality of life – the conveniences and enjoyments we’ve come to know and love – in a more sustainable, low-impact way.
Instead of looking at the tough overhaul (and sometimes overly expensive) life changes, think about the small things that we can all do collectively. We’ll no doubt have to create a couple new habits, but if those modifications are attainable, we’ll all be able to do them together. There’s a whole world of changes that don’t involve a lot of work, but add up to significant advances when performed en masse. If everyone takes note and does just a little, we’ll be living in a different world 50 years from now. We have the power to make the future a bright one, and here a couple of ideas on how we can make it there.
Where goes the trash, so too shall the recycling
Most people have a recycling bin in their kitchen, but what about the bathroom, study, or perhaps the bedroom? A while back, while opening a cardboard box of razor heads, I had the stroke of genius to put a small recycling bin in the bathroom. I placed it right next to the trash, and was amazed at how quickly it filled up: packaging, prescription slips, q-tips, toilet paper rolls…they can all be recycled! If you don’t have a recycling bin you won’t recycle, but when it’s there, you won’t be able to help yourself.
Bring your place setting to work
How many plastic forks do you use in a day? Week? Month? Year? You probably don’t even want to know. All of those plastic forks end up in a landfill where they break down into harmful gasses, and either release into the air or seep into your soil. The fix is so easy it hurts. Bring a place setting to work, and you’ll never have to use a plastic fork again. I myself have a bowl, plate, spoon, fork, knife, mug, and tumbler all at my desk. I also have one heavy duty knife that comes in handy if I ever have to do last-minute lunch prep. It will take five extra minutes to wash your dishes each night, but which consequence is worse: an earth that can no longer support life or leaving work five minutes later?
Don’t write off renewable energy
When we think of renewable energy we think expensive. You might imagine investing in solar panels, and wonder why would any renter do that? Even if you own, you might simply not be able to afford something along those lines. The good news is there have been a lot of advancements in politics and the world of energy that actually make wind, solar, and hydro power accessible these days. I personally rent and I use Green Mountain Energy, a national service that works through local providers and often offers almost equal charges per kilowatt hour. It’s not expensive. Want to look into some other options? Community Energy, Clean Currents, and Washington Gas Energy Services are all fairly inexpensive and easy to enroll in services.
Rethink the way you dry your clothes
I spent sophomore year of high school living in Italy, and do you know what is missing from all the households there? A dryer. That’s right, they hang dry all of their clothes, and are completely used to doing so. I myself find that if I just hang dry, clothes get a bit crispy. What I do instead is stick everything in the dryer for about 25 minutes, and then hang it all on a drying rack. The dryer doesn’t need to run for an hour or two, and you can still have soft, fresh clothes. In addition to a drying rack, you might also want to invest in a wool dryer ball. Doing so will eliminate the need for dryer sheets. It will fluff clothes and attract lint, and you won’t have something to throw away with each load of laundry.
Reuse, reuse, reuse
Simply think twice before you throw something away. How can you reuse this instead of throwing it in the trash? I just moved houses, and believe me, the urge to purge was strong. I had to stop myself and focus on separating out things to give away, repurpose, recycle, and so on. I ended up giving amazing makeup and skincare products (barely used) to one friend, while another got a shirt that was right up her alley. The move also involved a lot of painting, that afterwards, I turned the paint cans into hanging planters. Outside of moving, peel labels off glass jars and use them as containers or vases. The potential of objects is endless with a little effort and time. You’ll be saving little treasures from the dump each time you exert it.
Visit Naomi’s Blog, Numie Abbott.