If you want to save the world, THINK GLOBAL AND ACT LOCALLY are words to heed. Many small acts can add up to a big difference when it comes to pollution. Our modern disposable society has created mountainous landfills heaped with trash, much of it with lengthy decay rates.
Before the throw-away society, people practiced thrift by saving more than spending. To help achieve this, recycling was a common practice. Another was repairing objects instead of throwing them away and buying a replacement.
These days, repair is often not even an option. What’s an environmentally-friendly consumer supposed to do?
Following are some ideas about making real-life substitutions that are reasonable for some. Making a few changes that are the most appealing is a great way to ease into an eco-friendlier lifestyle. Once those become familiar, adopt some additional clean alternatives for products used daily or frequently.
One great way to keep trash out of the landfills is to prevent it from happening. It’s freaky-easy to use a lot fewer paper towels:
- Clean up spills with a reusable sponge or cloth such as a cotton dish towel. You can clean sponges by running them through the dishwasher and run a hot-water machine wash to clean cotton cleaning cloths.
- Nuh-uh to the supermarket checkout question, “Paper or plastic?” Instead, sport a reusable personal grocery bag or two to reduce the estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags used annually. Keep them in the car so they are readily available for shopping trips.
- Non-rechargeable household batteries that get tossed in the trash release toxic chemicals that taint soil and water. Rechargeable batteries last longer, although you do need to invest in a manufactured charger. Many stores have battery recycling programs, some with incentives for responsible disposal.
- Substitute one reusable water bottle for multiple throw-away plastic bottles. If you do use single-use containers, recycle them. Despite all the recycling programs in the U.S., a whopping 91 percent of the water bottles Americans use end up in a landfill.
- Install low-flow toilets and showerheads to save money on water bills by lowering usage. A single-flush low-flow toilet uses 0.8-1.0 gallons of water per flush compared to standard toilets with 1.6-gallon tanks. A water-savings showerhead can further lower usage and billing.
- Substitute biodegradable trash bags for the usual store brands. Not only are they completely compostable but they cost about half the price of 13-gal, 5-ct Glad bags.
- Plant a tree. If this isn’t possible where you live, there are many organizations set up to provide this eco-friendly service. Most charge $1/tree which sounds like a bargain. Trees absorb CO2, odors, and pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. One tree can absorb nearly 10 pounds of polluted air a year and release 260 pounds of oxygen – another great deal for Planet Earth.
- Get a programmable thermostat and learn how to use it. Adjusting the HVAC system during periods of high and low temperatures and usage can significantly reduce power consumption.
- Get hip to reusable coffee filters. Yes, there is such a thing. While we love our Keurig beverage brewers, all those spent single-serving pods wind up in the garbage and on to the landfill. The solution is fillable, reusable K-cups, available online.
- Buy pre-owned clothing. Selective shopping at thrift stores can yield great bargains on designer and discount brands while keeping clothing that still has lots of life in it out of the landfills. Since results are never guaranteed at a second-hand store, keep an open mind as well as an open eye to avoid disappointment if the exact item you want isn’t available.
Bonus tips for those who want to make a difference in reducing industrial pollutants include:
- Shop local (when possible)
- Buy only what you need
- Bike, walk or use public transportation (when able)
- Fix broken items before replacing them
The longest journey begins with a single step. Even making one lifestyle change can lower the amount of garbage taken to landfills and dumps for disposal. Find your own ways to help yourself and your family by helping Mother Earth.
Get your kids involved – teach them by example that thrift and recycling are great habits to help the planet and a great way to save money.