By: Nawal Samdani
Every day, we make mindless decisions that have major effects on our health and especially our planet. Excessive waste contributes to climate change and the pollution of many ecosystems and species’ habitats. The emissions that are produced due to how much trash we generate can affect us long term; one can develop diseases such as asthma, cancer or cardiovascular disease.
The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every day from single-use plastic utensils and products, aluminum cans and medical waste.
The vast majority of this waste is plastic, which is often “hidden” in products.
Fortunately, we have the power to do something about this. There are many easy, small ways to reduce waste that are eco-friendly and will have a lasting effect on the environment.
By reducing the amount of waste you create, you help prevent pollution and protect the environment. You also limit the amount of waste going to a landfill, preserve natural resources and save money.
Read on for a list of products and practices you can adopt to meet that low-waste New Year’s resolution.
REUSABLE BOTTLES: To limit the one-time use of plastic water bottles, invest in a reusable water bottle. A few popular ones right now are the Hydro Flask and Stanley Quencher. By taking your own water bottle on-the-go, you will reduce your chances of purchasing expensive beverages as well as reducing unnecessary waste. Although these bottles may seem expensive up front, they are worth saving up for, as they last decades and will quickly replace the cost of hundreds of plastic bottles.
CLOTH PRODUCE BAGS: The flimsy plastic bags offered at grocery stores are incredibly wasteful: in fact, they are one of the top ten most common waste items found in oceans. Reusable cloth produce bags have great durability, lasting years. Mesh produce bags can also withstand significantly more weight than standard plastic bags. These eco-friendly cloth produce bags are also more practical, since they can be used for many other things.
AVOID SINGLE-USE PRODUCTS: Whenever possible, try to avoid using single-use coffee cups, plastic utensils and straws. More often than not, these items end up in the ocean and can harm marine life. It may be helpful to keep a set of metal silverware and stainless steel straws in your bag or car that you can wash and reuse.
REPLACE PLASTIC WRAP WITH BEES WRAP: Bees-wrap is made with beeswax, cloth oil and pine resin. They are similar to plastic wrap, except these are eco-friendly. These reusable wraps come in a variety of shapes, sizes and patterns, and you can use them to wrap up a sandwich for lunch or store food in the fridge.
SHOP LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS: Shopping at your local farmers market has many benefits. You will be supporting local businesses while also receiving fresher and more sustainable ingredients. Supporting local farmers means supporting the local economy; money that is spent with local farmers stays close to home and is reinvested with business and services within the community. Local farmers also rely less on packaging, which helps with limiting waste – you could even bring your reusable produce bags.
COMPOST FOOD SCRAPS: 30% of the waste Americans produce is made up of yard waste and food scraps, which can be composted instead. We can shrink the size of landfills and methane –a powerful greenhouse gas linked to climate change – production by diverting that waste from the dump. Composting food scraps has many benefits such as increasing water retention and drainage of the soil. It also keeps weeds down and adds nutrients. Composting can be as simple as putting your banana peels in a hole in the ground, or as complex as investing in a large barrel to make batches of compost; whatever floats your boat, no effort is too small.