When we think about the amount of waste that we humans produce, on an everyday basis and all around the world, our heads spin.
Of the billions of tons of plastic produced, one new study revealed only about 9% is actually recycled--an unbelievable 91% is not recycled. The majority of plastic ends up in our landfills and in our oceans, the “final sink.”
In America, 55% of our trash ends up in the landfill--only 33% gets recycled. The rest is incinerated.
However, hope is not lost. In Sweden, only 1% of their trash makes it to the landfill. They even import garbage to keep their recycling plants going! While we may have a long way to go, Sweden gives us a realistic goal to fight toward.
The numbers can be overwhelming, but there are small steps we can take in our daily lives that can drastically reduce our individual waste. Rather than recycle plastic, think of ways to avoid it in the first place. We will then decrease our imprint and hopefully force corporations to come up with more eco-friendly alternatives.
At Yogaja, we will be celebrating Earth Day with our Environmental Impact Earth Day Workshop. On Sunday, April 22 from 2:00-3:30, Hope Dalrymple and Erin Marsh will host a workshop that includes a short talk on practical ways to reduce our environmental impact, followed by a gentle grounding practice to connect us to our planet.
The rule of thumb when it comes to minimizing waste? Think of the items you use the most, that generate the most trash, and start there. Even adapting one thing from our list of suggestions can translate to a drastic reduction in waste over a lifetime.
1. Buy local, buy fresh
Buying local translates to little or no packaging and travelling (i.e. carbon emissions) and we support our local economy.
One easy--and fun--way to support local is to join a co-op. Since much of Ohio is farmland, we have a plethora of co-op options for the summer and fall. Shared Legacy Farms provides a wide variety of beautiful vegetables (pictured here), and they also have a Facebook page to share recipes that incorporate new or unusual vegetables, as well as a weekly email that details how to store and preserve each vegetable.
Weber Ranch offers chicken shares--10 or more local, organic chickens over the course of the summer--as well as pork and egg options.
For those who don’t want the commitment of a co-op, Sylvania, Perrysburg, and Toledo all have Farmer’s Markets with local produce and goods.
Most of our food waste is tied to the packing to preserve it. When we buy fresh, we eliminate the packaging waste--and it’s more natural for our bodies!
2. Simplify at the grocery store
--Bring reusable bags.
--Put produce in your reusable bag.
--Buy products with less packaging.
--Buy bulk as much as possible to reduce package waste.
3. Recycle your food
Instead of buying bottled water, try an environmentally-friendly option, such as reusable water bottles (which are all 20% off at Yogaja this month). If the issue is tap water taste, research alternatives such as reverse osmosis filters or refillable water dispensers, which can be refilled at most stores, including Fresh Thyme and Kroger.
--Freeze food or give it to a friend/neighbor instead of throwing it away.
--Compost food if you have the space (and if your dog won’t get into it).
--Bring your own containers to restaurants to take home food.
--Buy reusable options at frequented places. Starbucks, Jamba Juice., and Tropical Smoothie all have reusable cup options--and they give you a small discount when you bring in your own container.
We all eat, and we all clean. Not only can cleaning products be toxic to our environment and our rivers/oceans, but recent studies show most cleaners fail to disclose all of their contents, many of which are lung-harming ingredients. Plus, the plastic containers create mountains of waste.
Making your own cleaning supplies is surprisingly easy, incredibly economical, and thoroughly effective. If you don’t have the time or motivation to make your own cleaning supplies, consider buying items in bulk and reusing bottles to cut back on plastic waste.
--Bar soap: Buy locally or make your own.
Hand soap: Reuse old bottles and pour jumbo soap into them. Foaming soap is nothing more than regular soap mixed with water.
--Laundry detergent: Combine a few items you own for significantly less--5 gallons for less than $2!
--Deodorant: You probably have all of the ingredients, and it works much better than most store-bought natural deodorants.
--Cleaning products, such as:
--Homemade granite cleaner
It’s imperative to recycle correctly. One household who improperly recycles (i.e. putting yard waste into recycle bin) can contaminate 6-10 tons of carefully prepared recyclables.
Unfortunately, each recycling company is different, so it’s hard to figure out the do’s and don’ts. Some companies require all containers to have lids; others insist the lid remain off. If the recycling isn’t in the condition they require, it gets tossed in the landfill.
Since we do not have a universal recycling system in the U.S., it’s best to look up the rules for your city or independent service. The city of Toledo has its guidelines online, as well as a list of local places that accept items not available for curbside pickup.
And all that junk mail you get? You can cancel unwanted catalogs online at Catalog Choice in a few easy steps.
Farmer Kurt, Shared Legacy Farms
Do you have other suggestions for practical ways to reduce our environmental impact? Please comment below so we can all benefit from each other!