1,600 Pounds of Garbage
That’s the average amount of garbage each of us creates a year.
Yesterday, an activist friend of mine showed me a photo of a gargantuan pile of garbage and plastic waste that will basically never decompose – at least, not in our lifetimes. Or those of our children. Now that’s depressing.
It can be a bit daunting to feel personally responsible for the earth, but the truth is, every piece of garbage you don’t create is a step in the right direction. I’ve adjusted my own personal sense of entitlement when it comes to creating waste by implementing the following changes in my habits.
Generate Less Garbage
Recycling is good and reusing is even better. I hang onto a few extra glass jars and plastic containers to use instead of tuperware. I don’t like clutter either so I don’t collect too many jars, but having a few around is always useful for storing leftovers, homemade salad dressing or even as a bud vase for a flower.
Boycott Plastic and Styrofoam
Whenever possible, I boycott plastic and styrofoam. If I find myself in desperate need of a beverage when I’m out, I go for the ones in glass bottles. Plastic is, in my opinion, a fairly evil substance. It’s not just bad for the environment, it’s bad for your health. And, throwing out styrofoam makes me cry, so I try not to get takeout from places that use it. Most businesses will change if you tell them it’s important. Consumer opinion counts so let your favorite vendors know.
Don’t Throw Away Useful Things
I don’t necessarily throw things out when I get sick of them. I donate them. I give them away to friends. The nice thing about living in a city is that what I consider trash is often someone’s treasure.
Read News Online and Share Your Books
I read the newspaper online or second hand in a coffee shop. I give most of my books away as soon as I’m done reading them. Favorites I keep, but I try to keep the information flowing into my brain and then pass it on to a friend.
Buy Recycled Paper Products
I buy recycled toilet paper, paper towels and printer paper. Okay, so recycled toilet paper may not be quite as cushy as some on the market, but if there’s one product that deserves to be made from recycled paper it’s this one.
I highly encourage you to take 2 minutes to learn the rules of recycling. If you muck up your recycled items with real garbage, the city throws it all out. Don’t let your recycling efforts be for naught!
Bring Your Own Bag
I do my best not to accept paper bags for my groceries. I keep a light-weight canvas bag in my over-sized purse and use both for my store bought items. If I have to take a paper bag, I always reuse it or compost it. Yes, paper bags are compostable which leads me to my next tip…
San Franciscans are blessed with a civic composting program (those lime green trash bins). All food products, yard waste and paper products that don’t have plastic coating, including milk cartons are fair game. Sign up your building or home for the service and keep your compostables out of our landfill.
One more thing, if you really want to be convinced of the perils of garbage, rent the movie WALL-E. It may be an animated “kids” movie, but it’s a sadly realistic projection of how the earth will turn out if we don’t find a way to reign in our trash habit.
Keep it clean,