Now that you have learned what it means to be sustainable, I am going to give you all a variety of tips and tricks on how to reduce your waste production, save energy, and ultimately, be good to the planet!
Plastics – just don’t – Plastics have a very interesting history in our society. Weirdly enough, the first plastics were developed in the mid-1800’s to serve as a more ‘eco-friendly’ alternative to the elephant ivory found in billiard balls. Soon, plastics were being used to create toys, packaging, home goods, silverware, parachutes, ships, submarines–just about anything! Sounds amazing, right? Well, it turns out our precious plastics had one issue: they weren’t going away. Plastics began to build up all over the world and soon filled our streets, soils, and oceans. Today, we add 10-20 million tons of plastic products to our oceans each year and about 66-129 million tons to our landfills. This plastic leaches harmful and sometimes lethal chemicals into our lands, posing a threat to native wildlife and human health. Not only this, but the process of creating synthetic plastics releases greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. So, what is the best way to avoid poisoning our lands, wildlife, and our own bodies? By avoiding plastic at all costs. Here are some ways to avoid using plastic:
- Pack your lunches in reusable containers (preferably glass) instead of one-use plastic baggies.
- Buy a reusable water bottle and thermos–this way you can avoid one-use plastic water bottles and Starbucks coffee cups.
- Do not use straws–they are completely unnecessary!
- Buy fresh produce from farmers’ markets rather than frozen, plastic-wrapped (not to mention processed) food.
- Use bars soaps rather than bottled products–make sure they don’t contain microbeads!
If you are really interested in reducing your plastic consumption, here is a recipe I found for homemade toothpaste: https://www.diynatural.com/homemade-toothpaste/
Change your lighting and appliances – America and the rest of the globe are just beginning to realize the untapped potential of sustainable lighting and appliances. The United States has approximately 4.7 billion square meters of commercial space, requiring roughly 100 power plants just to supply it with electricity for lighting. However, this can be greatly reduced by replacing traditional bulbs with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). While LEDs may be expensive, they use about 90% less electricity than traditional or compact fluorescent bulbs, leading to greater savings over time. As for appliances, investing in something as simple as an energy efficient dishwasher or water heater can lead to $400 in savings each year! Just look for the Energy Star label designed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency. An appliance receives this label if it is significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards, as determined by standard testing procedures (Energy Star Website).
I have attached a great website about geothermal energy–a reliable, cost-effective, and sustainable source of energy to power your home! https://www.geothermal.org/what.html
Transportation – Today, most transportation is powered using oil. However, oil is costly economically and environmentally. America spends billions of dollars every year protecting oil–billions of dollars that could be invested in creating much more sustainable sources of fuel. Not only this, extracting and burning oil releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We need to invest in more fuel efficient transportation, specifically cars, that do not rely on crude oil. Battery-powered hybrid cars may be the answer. The average fuel mileage in the United States is 8 miles per gallon for a new car. However, plug-in hybrid cars could average 100 miles per gallon or more. This increase in efficiency could greatly reduce pollution, specifically greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. Companies such as Tesla are taking this a step further. They are creating electric cars that can run exclusively on electricity and can be plugged into a home grid powered by solar panels. However, hybrids and electric cars are not totally environmentally-friendly. The materials needed to create hybrid cars requires mining, which can release harmful substances into the air and cause physical environmental damage. If you want to avoid this, just ride a bike!
Next time on Stay Sustainable, I will be discussing sustainable eating and the science behind veganism!