We have heard this mantra since our elementary school days. We would chant "reduce, reuse, recycle!" and talk about how to love the earth. Yet, plastered all over the news we see how horribly we have treated the world post the industrial revolution. We are literally killing this earth, as we continue to produce more and more trash and pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink. However, we can turn this global problem around. Below are five small changes you can make in your day to day life that can help make the earth a better place.
1. Throw things away in the right bin
You might be thinking how ridiculous this sounds, but too many times have I seen people carelessly toss things away, not checking to read if the bin says trash or recycling. Universities and large institutions can be partially to blame for this, seeing as bins can sometimes look the exact same aside from small labels that read "recycling" and "trash" for aesthetic. I prefer a healthy environment as my aesthetic, and corporations should too. But, individuals are also to blame. Did you know that if a recycling bin has more than a certain percentage of trash in it, the whole thing has to be thrown away? So, if you carelessly toss your leftover meal into the wrong bin, you could cause an entire bag of recyclables to be thrown away. Being mindful of the environment is crucial, especially if we want to eliminate the amount of waste we produce every day.
2. Stop buying plastic bottles
According to National Geographic, roughly 91% of plastic isn't recycled. Crazy, right? Not only is that statistic absolutely sickening, but there are also simple solutions to this problem. Stop buying bottled liquids, especially bottled water. Instead, invest in a reusable, washable water bottle. Keep one with you all the time, so that you can stay hydrated, and so you never need to purchase a plastic bottle. Keep an extra bottle in your car or in your backpack too, because it's better to be safe than to waste.
3. Stop using plastic grocery bags
This is another simple fix to your weekly visit to the grocery store. Instead of telling the bagger at the end of the conveyor belt that you want plastic bags, hand them your reusable fabric bags instead. These are super cheap, and after you bring all of your groceries in the house, run out to the car and leave them in your trunk - that way you will never forget them when you run errands again. If you do forget them, save your plastic bags! They can still be reused before throwing them away. You can use them as trash bags for your small trash cans in your bathrooms and bedrooms. Also, if you have a dog, you can use these bags to pick up poop in your lawn or on your walks.
4. Stop using straws
200 years. That's roughly how long it will take a single plastic straw to decompose. Not only are they relatively unnecessary, but they are a huge waste and take 2 lifetimes to decompose. It's a simple fix - buy washable, reusable straws, or drink out of washable, reusable cups. The more mindful we are about not using them, the greater the impact we can have on the environment
5. Educate yourself and your friends
Take the time to research what you can and cannot recycle. Odds are you can recycle more things than you are aware of, and doing your part is a small step toward a healthier earth. Also, hold your friends accountable. If you are all out eating and they are about to throw everything in the trash, make sure you separate the stuff that can be recycled. If we all hold each other accountable for our actions, we can all educate each other on ways to reduce the amount of garbage we create every day. The small changes we make in our own lives serve as models for others, and the more people involved in the green movement, the better.
Don't take our earth for granted. Take care of the environment. It all starts with our own choices. It all starts with you.