There are many small changes we could all make that are simple but have a huge impact on the environment. The average American creates around 4.6 pounds of waste per day. That may not seem like a lot but multiply that by 365 days a year, and then that number by 326 million Americans...and well... I'm no mathematician but that's a sh*t ton of waste. So what could we do to decrease that number and become part of the solution rather the problem?
Here are 5 easy changes you can make that will reduce the amount of waste you create and help to make the world just a tad bit greener:
#1 SKIP THE PLASTIC BAGS
Plastic bags are being banned in grocery stores all over the states but unfortunately, a lot of places aren't up to speed. If you find yourself shopping at one of these places try to bring reusable bags. Another good tip is if you can carry it through the store, then you don't need a bag to carry it out. Now let's say you find yourself in the checkout line with a cart full of groceries and you just realized you forgot your reusable bags (this happened to me all the time when I first began my eco-friendly journey), your next best option is what I call bulk bagging. For some reason, grocery baggers like to bag things as if they are making a commision off each bag, or like they have a quota to meet. To combat this, politely ask the bagger to use the least amount of bags possible or if your bagging items yourself try to fit as many items as you can in each bag without the bag breaking. Then simply return the bags to the store or reuse them as many times as you can before disposing of them.
#2 SIP, DONT SUCK! SAY NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS
We use over 500 million plastic straws a day in the US alone. No disposable straw in the history of straws has been needed for more than a couple hours, yet they take hundreds of years to decompose..again not a mathematician but something doesn't add up here. So if the establishment you're at doesn't offer a compostable option like paper or wheat, skip the straw or buy reusable ones to carry along with you.
#3 REDUCE, REUSE, REFILL! USE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE AND COFFEE CUP
Out of the 50 billion bottles bought each year, only 20% are recycled. The other 80% end up in our oceans or landfills. Using a reusable water bottle and filling it up with the tap will not only help the environment but also save you money. Drinking 2 liters of tap water a day will cost you less than $1 a year. If your tap water is not safe to drink invest in a filter or only purchase large jugs of water that you can return after using. Using your own coffee cup is also beneficial to the environment seeing how its estimated that Americans purchase around 400 million cups of coffee per day and most of these are served in either a plastic or styrofoam. So bring your own coffee cup to your favorite shop or make coffee at home and give yourself a pat on your back as you sip that delicious cup of joe.
#4 BRING YOUR OWN TAKEOUT CONTAINER
Most takeout containers are made of styrofoam which is extremely toxic to make and difficult to recycle. The EPA ranks Styrofoam manufacturing as the fifth worst global industry in terms of hazardous waste creation. Not only is it horrible for the environment but can also affect your health. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has established styrene as a possible human carcinogen! Yikes! Some restaurants have taken it upon themselves to switch to cardboard containers but most find it too costly and unnecessary. When ordering takeout ask if they have plastic and styrofoam free containers and if they do not kindly explain to them you will provide your own. Also, bring a container when going out to eat for leftovers.
#5 COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST!
Composting is a great way to not only help save but also give back to the environment. When we throw away food scraps and other organic matter and they end up in landfills, they break down without oxygen and emit methane into the atmosphere. But when those same items are composted they emit co2 into the air in which other plants can take in. Composting can be as easy as digging a hole in your backyard and tossing your food scraps in it. Read my post on composting to learn how to get started today!