August’s easy zero to low cost ways to be environmentally conscious
REDUCE. REUSE. RECYCLE. IN THAT ORDER.
These three steps, in the order written, are important because every step you make toward a more environmentally conscious world contributes to a more sustainable world.
The world generated 242 million tons of plastic waste in 2016. North America is the third largest producer of plastic waste producing at least 35 million tons annually. Plastic consumption is growing and polluting the environment and human lives. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade when placed in landfills. Instead, the sun’s heat breaks it down into small pieces called microplastics, which are hard to clean up and enter the food chain. Microplastics are consumed by plankton, fish eat the plankton and then humans consume the fish. Microplastics have also been found in table salt, beer, and tap water. The proliferation of microplastics is impacting the food supply chain of birds as well, as 90% of seabirds have been found to have plastic in their digestive systems.
Notice Plastic in your Everyday Life
The first step to reducing your plastic use is to notice how much plastic you use in your everyday life. Did you know that the majority of paper cups are lined with plastic? We’re talking about the disposable paper cups you purchase or the to-go cups your favorite coffee shop uses when you buy a coffee. These cups can’t be recycled so even when these cups are placed in recycling bins, they end up in landfills. 7 million coffee cups a day are used and disposed of in the United Kingdom, that’s 2.5 billion coffee cups a year which mostly end up in incinerators or landfills. Some vegetables at the store come in plastic packaging, which gets thrown out as soon as you arrive home. Does the takeout meal from your favorite restaurant include disposable plastic utensils? Perhaps you pack sandwiches and snacks in disposable plastic bags? Find yourself thirsty at work? You may go and buy a disposable plastic water bottle or use a plastic cup to drink water from the tap.
Do Something About It! Start by adopting one of these ideas to reduce plastic waste.
- Make your morning coffee at home and bring it to work in a travel mug. If you want your morning ‘cup of joe’ from a coffee shop, bring your travel mug and get it filled every morning on your way to work. This is good for the environment and some of the major coffee chains offer small monetary incentives for using reusable coffee mugs.
- Avoid excessive plastic packaging. Buy loose fruits and vegetables from farmers markets and supermarkets to avoid food plastic packaging. Return plastic fruit containers to farmers markets for farmers to reuse for packaging when plastic containers can’t be avoided,.
- Cook meals at home and bring them to work instead of buying food at a restaurant every day. This cuts down on single use plastic take out containers. When you do choose takeout, consider declining plastic silverware unless absolutely needed. Best of all, cooking food at home and bringing it into work will save you money.
- Keep a set of reusable silverware at work, in your desk, or in your work bag so that you don’t get caught in a situation where you need to use plastic utensils.You can also bring a travel mug and/or reusable water bottle to work to avoid using disposable paper and plastic cups every day.
- Consider using ‘naked’ toiletries. Lush, a popular toiletry company, has a large selection of shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and other products that have no plastic packaging.
Stay up to date with this new exciting opportunity! Loop, a company launching this spring, delivers some groceries, such as shampoo and laundry detergent, to your door in reusable metal containers. After the product is used, these containers are then cleaned by Loop, refilled, and sent to other customers, effectively reducing plastic waste. Read more about this innovative new idea here!
Every day is Earth Day at WexEnergy!