The ocean is now composed of 10% plastic. The great barrier reef is disappearing. Animals are being found washed up on the shore with plastic in their stomachs. Our planet has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years.
The world is going to sh*t, BUT we can help slow the process. Sure, no one can change the world in a day … but we have to start somewhere!
There are thousands of things that you can do to help save the planet. Cutting back on plastic is perhaps the easiest place to start. Totally cutting back on plastic is great, but can be unrealistic. Therefore, if you do purchase plastic products, the least you can do is recycle it so it can repurposed into something better. After plastic is dropped into a recycling bin, it goes through a long process and eventually ends up being repurposed to build things like shoes, new plastic bottles and even lawn furniture, rather than sitting in a landfill for the rest of eternity. Recycling plastic and plastic bags is almost as easy as the process of purchasing one: almost every supermarket has a container that recycles plastic bags upon leaving the store, and blue plastic recycling bins can be found on street corners and in front of most people’s homes.
Countries in Europe are lightyears ahead of us when it comes to recycling, so much so that plastic bags in Europe are not free; even the simplest of supermarkets and clothing stores charge for plastic bags, encouraging customers to bring their own cloth or reusable bags. In fact, the European Union has recently launched a program called “Zero Waste Europe,” which “works on a wide range of projects and policy areas with the single objective of advancing the zero waste future for Europe” and implements “zero waste projects,” according to the sites mission statement. We need to learn from them!
Schools like Penn State and other universities in the Big Ten have taken huge strides when it comes to being eco-friendly. In fact, Penn State recently launched their website sustainability.psu.edu where they update students on how they are doing their part to save the environment; by composting all the food from the HUB and dining halls and placing multiple recycling bins on the floor of campus buildings and dorms.
Being completely eco-friendly can be hard, but here are some small changes that you can make in order to do your part to save the earth:
CUT DOWN ON WHAT YOU THROW AWAY.
According to DoSomething.org, 75% of American the american waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle 30% of it. Let that number sink in.
By taking just a little bit more time out of your normal routine, you can cut that number in half (if not more than that.)
Common items that can be recycled but are often thrown away:
- Cardboard (pizza boxes, amazon shipping boxes, gift boxes, cereal boxes, etc.)
- Aluminum cans (soda cans, energy drink cans, etc.)
- Glass containers (iced tea bottles, beer bottles, vodka bottles, etc.)
- Starbucks cups
- Newspapers and magazines
- Plastic containers (water bottles, 2 liter soda bottles, cheap vodka containers)
- Paper of any kind (paper folders, used notebook paper, note packs)
… and the list goes on and on …
Ditch The Plastic Bags
“Of the billions of plastic bags made each year, one hundred BILLION are thrown away,” according to Worldwatch Institute, “with less than 1 percent finding their way into a recycle bin.”
The end result? One billion birds and mammals dying each year after ingesting the plastic.
This is perhaps the easiest substitution you can make in your life that will go a LONG way. By purchasing a reusable bag (for less than a dollar!) you will, in turn, prevent hundreds of plastic bags from ending up in landfills, the ocean, and worst of all, the stomach lining of thousands of fish and mammals.
Outlaw The Straw
This video of a sea turtle getting a plastic straw removed from its’ nose sparked the huge debate about banning straws. Large name-brand companies like Starbucks have already pledged to phase out plastic straws globally by 2020, and many other companies are following in their footsteps. Going straw-less or even purchasing reusable plastic/aluminum straws can go a long way.
Support Eco-Friendly Companies
- Adidas: Last year they introduced a line of shoes that are created solely from plastic pollution.
- LUSH: With a totally “green policy,” less is more at LUSH. They pledge pledges to use solely raw materials and uses as little packaging as possible.
- Patagonia: This company pledges at least one percent of sales to environmental groups, and has a website solely dedicated to keeping your gear ‘in action’ longer through repair and reuse, as well as info on how to recycle your garments when they are beyond repair.
- IKEA: The furniture megastore has 700,000 solar panels powering its stores, and have recently begun to sell the solar panels to its customers. They plan to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Conclusion? Always do your research before making a mindless purchase.
Most people don’t recycle because they “don’t feel like it” or are “too lazy,” but the fact of the matter is that the earth needs our help.
“Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.” -Barbara Mikulski.
The future is in our hands! Let’s make a change.