It’s the final three days of October. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the last two months of the year. I’ve been slowly working through my apartment and making lists for continue my transition to living more environmentally friendly. That’s what motivated today’s discussion. As always, you can follow me here on WordPress or on Twitter (my most active social media platform) for future blog posts and cute cat pictures.
Where We Struggle
1. Needing New Items:
As a society, we are fueled by the constant need to own something new. New shoes, clothes, journals and the list goes on. I used to be very picky about buying new clothes that’s fresh from the store. Over the years, the price and ethical sources of these clothes have managed to change me to start reducing what clothes I wear. If I truly do need new clothes, I’ve been able to enjoy second hand clothes from the thrift store.
The last time I did go to a thrift store, was in August. Needed some basic solid color shirts for work and managed to walk away with only spending $20 on ten to twelve pieces. Soon afterwards, I managed to donate five pieces of clothing to a clothing drive.
Clothing is the best area for me to declutter from. My favorite method is to have sort through six months worth of clothes hanging in my closet, by having all the hangers turned to the back. As you continue to wear the items, turn the hook towards you. After six months, whatever was not worn goes to donation.
2. Plastic waste:
What about environmental impacts? Plastic used to be my biggest culprit. Now, I only have one plastic bag left, to use for taking out the kitty litter. That’s how I reuse single use plastic bags: kitty litter cleaning or the mini bathroom trash can.
3. Paper Waste
The minor difference I have started to improve on, is my paper waste. I enjoy writing by hand, and I am down to the last of my paper sticky notes. One step I made this weekend, was buying a dry erase calendar and dry erase board. This will allow me to hand write my calendars in and to reduce the amount of sticky notes on my wall. Now, I don’t have to feel the need to buy a wall calendar or print out monthly calendars. That’ll save me money and paper!
Plastic and paper waste is common. With the changing online shopping landscape, cardboard boxes are the next culprit. I’ve been saving the few boxes I have for holiday and birthday gift giving. Jupiter (my black cat) also enjoys new cardboard boxes as play toys.
Don’t forget to look into cardboard crafts on Pinterest, especially if you are a teacher or parent.
5. Electronics, Cars, and Household
This spring, I was able to finance for a new car. Going from a 2004 Buick Lesabre to a 2013 Smart Car was a new upgrade for me! I never truly new I needed a smart car, until the salesman let me try out the smart car on my first test drive. Smart Car’s allow me to not feel as guilty about my Monday through Friday commuting to and from work. On average, I spend ten hours driving during the week, not including errands done in the evenings or weekends.
An effort I decided on when I moved into my apartment, was to have my electricity partially funded by wind power. On average, my electricity bill is less than $50. I’m looking forward to the winter bills, because I hardly ever have to turn on a heater (third floor bonus). Check out Arcadia Power and see if you can begin making an environmental impact.
In the title to this area, I said “household.” By this I meant apartment or community recycling. Unfortunately, recycling isn’t available for my apartment community. If I do get a chance to recycle, I have to drive thirty minutes to an hour to turn in only a small amount of items that the city will recycle.
Other honorable mentions that we aren’t the best at: using solar and wind power; using animal tested products; food waste. I’ll just leave these mentions here, since I want to move on to what we can do as a community to start creating a friendlier environment.
What We Need to Do Next
The UK has already taken a step ahead of the United States with going plastic free. The European parliament approved a ban on single-use plastic. Wonderful! I’ve seen a small handful of restaurants make the transition with single use straws, cups, and silverware. The only downside is for those who need these straws to help with disabilities.
Banging single use plastic is the first step.
The second, is just as valuable and one that I have been an advocate for since I learned how the Germany recycling program works. The reason their program is so successful, is because they have a strong government policy and citizen initiative. Germany leads the world in its recycling initiative, sorting 65% of waste to recycling. In a 2016 New York Times article, the reporter explained how the recycling works in Germany:
“Plastics and packaging are supposed to go in the yellow container; the blue one is for paper and cardboard. Glass waste gets two bins: white for the clear stuff, and green for colored glass.
Then there’s a brown bin for organic waste, which goes for composting. Since 2015, every community in Germany has been required by law to collect compost, for use in bio gas plants or organic fertilizer; Germans generate 10 million tons of the stuff each year.”
Every community in Germany has been required by law to collect compost. Favorite line.
Another reason this is so successful, is that these recycling bins are provided through out the country. The way the United States could begin this change, is to start with asking restaurants to start having recycling bins and then requiring waste companies to pick them up in specific bins.
The biggest step we need to take, as citizens, is to become more proactive in advising our communities to recycle and to start asking for small legislative laws. The only time I have written political posts in the past, is over environmental issues. California banned animal tested cosmetic products in September, being the first state to do so.
The United States has a ways to go before change can truly be seen. Small steps like requiring paper and plastic to be made recycled to animal rights will go a long way. Personally, I would love to see paper, plastic, and cardboard made from recycled materials more than fresh new material.
Below are links to blogs and articles that I referenced in today’s blog. As well as previous blogs written by me:
What are small changes you’ve made to lower your environmental impact? Let’s have a chat in the comment section below and I wish you the best this week!