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It’s amazing how little decisions – ones that won’t cost more time or money can make a big difference in regard to the environment. On behalf of Blog Action Day, a few ideas that will make tiny changes in your life but big changes for our future…
1. Bring Your Mug to Work Day. Many workplaces have coffee, tea and filtered water available for their employees, and stacks of Styrofoam cups ready for these drinks. Look chic and be green by bringing your own cup or mug. If your office doesn’t provide soap and a sponge to wash your cup, donate some and encourage others to follow your lead. A graceful porcelain teacup or a hearty mug that represents your personal style is far more fashionable on your desk than a generic disposable one. This small change by you may not seem like much, but if everyone switched to a reusable cup, image the difference in the landfills!
2. Shop Your Closet, or Your Friend’s. Before heading to the mall, take a second gander at your own wardrobe. That skirt that is part of your dust-covered interview suit may work as a very chic pencil skirt this season. That too-short dress may work as a hip tunic over jeans or trousers, and those slightly-short and slightly-tight jeans may look fabulous tucked into some great tall boots and paired with a slouchy sweater.
Before you toss those Just Wrong pieces from your closet, call up your girlfriends. Your trash may be your best friend’s treasure and vice versa. Serve up some cocktails and make a swap party out of the event!
3. BYOB. Bring your own… bag! All those plastic bags take up space in your house and in landfills as well. Keep a tote in your bag or next to your door so it’s ready for your next trip to the market. But totes are not just for the grocery store – bring your bag to the mall, Target, even Home Depot. Show your style and encourage shoppers around you with your sassy reusable bag.
And if you are only buying one item and don’t have your tote, say “thanks, but no thanks” and carry your purchase in your hand. Who needs another plastic bag floating around?
Want the bag featured? Visit this site!
4. Think Before You Shop. Wow, those tee shirts at Wal-Mart are only $5 but do you REALLY need another tee shirt? Stop and think about the future of this purchase – a few washings and you will either tire of it or it will fall apart. You’ll toss it in a bag for Goodwill a year from now even though it’s torn, threadbare and stained. What do you think happens to that rag with sleeves? I’ll tell you, it’s not going to be on the back of the homeless and it won’t end up on a hanger at the local thrift store. You donate trash, that’s what it becomes. Think before you drop a few bucks on crap because a year from now it will just be adding to your local landfill. Save your money for quality garments, and you’ll not only help your sense of style but the environment as well.
5. Vote With Your Pocketbook. Do your homework before you swipe that credit card. What type of ethics does that company have? What do they do to help the environment? Good chance, you can find a very similar item for a similar price from a more ethical company. The beauty of the Internet is that with a few moments with Google (or Goodsearch) you can find out everything you would ever want to know about a company and their more green competitors.
6. Break the Habit. The water bottle habit that is. Tap water is not a bad thing, and a Brita or Pur filter on the faucet is far cheaper than buying all those silly (and tacky) bottles. And you know waters like Aquafina are nothing more than purified tap water. How much did you spend for that bottle?
Yes you recycle your bottles (sometimes) but water bottles are not recycled to make more… the more bottles you consume the more bottles are made at factories that emit all kinds of nice stuff into the air. Then those water bottles are wrapped up in bleached and laminated cardboard and more plastic, shipped on big trucks that use big amounts of gas to your store. All that fuel, all that waste when there is healthier stuff practically for free from your kitchen sink. Gosh, a reusable bottle is sooo much more chic.
This cutie is available here.
7. Stay Slim. Keep your elegant wallet looking slim and crisp and Just Say No to receipts and the gas station or ATM.Often we request the receipt and then promptly crumple it and toss it on the floor of our car or into a trash can. Carry a check register to log your transactions, or even write it down on a different receipt in your wallet for later confirmation. As for checking your balance, most banks offer phone and web options to do that in a jiffy, completely paper-free. Think about it, there are more than 8 billion ATM machines in the USA alone. Imagine how many receipts are being printed and then added to landfills?
8. Reading and Recycling. Catalogs are fun to find in your mailbox; magazines are even more fabulous. But what do you do with these glossies after oohing, aahing and getting your fill? Grab yourself a paper bag – one of those sturdy ones from the grocery store with the handles that sits open on its own. Open it up and stick it near your front door. Now every time you go through the mail, dump in there all the catalogs you wouldn’t be caught dead shopping from, pamphlets from car dealerships, Pennysavers and paper products that you don't want. While you're at it, bend down those cardboard holders and boxes for cans and bottles of soda and beer and tuck them in there as well. After ogling over Vogue and Pottery Barn, toss them in there as well.
Then when this bag is full, take it to be recycled. In my town we have recycling bins near the Public Works building. If you do not know where paper products can be recycled in your area, call 1-800-CLEANUP or visit this site.
Why bother with recycling this measly amount of paper?
-Making new paper from old paper uses 30% to 55% less energy than making paper from trees and reduces related air pollution by 95%.
-Recycling one ton of paper typically saves about 6.7 cubic yards of landfill space. A cubic yard of stacked office paper for example weighs about 380 pounds. Cost savings may be estimated by multiplying the tons recycled by 6.7 times the cost per cubic yard for waste disposal (if by volume) of by cost per ton (if by weight).
-Commercial and residential paper waste accounts for more than 40% of waste going to the landfill. Eliminating this paper from our waste would nearly double the lives of current landfills.
-Newspaper is recycled into newspaper, game boards, egg cartons, gift boxes, animal bedding, insulation, and packaging material.
-Office paper is recycled into office paper, tissue paper, paper towels, and toilet paper.
-Corrugated cardboard is recycled into new cardboard and cereal boxes.
If this seems like a lot, try adapting just one of these tips a week. It only takes a month to make a habit – in a few months all of this will seem like old hat and you will be a very important drop in the ocean of people making a difference to protect our planet.
Little steps can make a big impact!
I just add those receipts to the recycling! I shred them first, but shredded paper can be recycled, too. I live near a major city in the midwest, and I recycle everything that my city dropoff will accept. Paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes are recycleable, too!
Katie Alender says
Like ThickChick, I’m an obsessive recycler. It makes me cringe to think of throwing so much stuff away.
Living in a West Coast city I’m a major recycler..and when I visit other parts of the country I’m AMAZED at the recyclable items thrown away, and lack of public recycling. Anyhoo – pats on the back to you for listing all of these simple things EVERYONE can do to help our Mother. Nice work!
Great article, Allie! This was just the motivation I needed to kick the tacky-water-bottle habit. So chic!
Also, you may want to look into washing your hair less often, and using less shampoo/conditioner. I tried this and my hair has more volume and shine! It uses less product in the long run and may even help you use less styling product, and ofcourse less pollutants going down the drain.
Keep up the good work Allie! You inspired me to join Blog Action Day – but my post was really not as thought-provoking as yours. Annoying, since my day job is environmental policy!