Hello everyone! Thanks for being here. It really means a lot that you clicked into read more about this! I felt like with all of the recent news with Australia, climate crisis in general, weird, warm temperatures in January freaking us all – this is as relevant as ever.
First I want to bring it back to the basics – let’s review how our actions impact and can contribute to global warming. In short (and let me tell you that I’m simplifying this by a lot!) when our trash gets thrown into the landfill, it emits harmful, warming gases into the air. Greenhouse gases, some of which include methane, carbon dioxide and ozone, are chemicals that essentially get trapped in our atmosphere. While this is a good thing on a regulated basis (we need something to warm us or we’d die!) too many of these can overheat the world that we live in.
Humans essentially are emitting so much of these global warming gases that our global temperatures are rising, causing all of these problems on Earth and for our humanity. 2019 was the second hottest year ever recorded.
When we throw our clothes away, they emit methane into the air. When we dump hundreds of thousands of pounds annually – that methane adds up. Cows also emit methane through their burps which is why the demand for beef (and meat in general) is such a huge problem correlated with climate change. All of these are a result of human activity vs. the natural process of warming our atmosphere so that we can live on it.
When we say reduce, reuse and recycle, it all comes down to throwing less into the landfill and our oceans so that our atmosphere does not continue to warm. Warming will continue to cause flooding, fires and an inhabitable ocean life if and when this persists.
There is a major conversation on whether corporations or consumers are more responsible for making changes with regard to sustainability. However – with the fires in Australia – I’m convinced that we all need to start somewhere, whether you’re a consumer or a corporation. I’ve always believed that even so small, I have an impact. Small impacts combined can and will change the world that we live in.
With that being said, the below might seem obvious, but wanted to share what I typically do to lessen my own impact and act against climate change on a daily basis. By no means are these nuanced ideas but I do believe these to be the most convenient, easiest changes that you can make today.
1. Set reminders to bring reusable bags
I am so bad at remembering reusable bags. But hey, I am human.
Set reminders in your phone throughout your week to bring bags – it’s so easy to forget until you’re at the checkout! That way it will always be top of mind as you begin your day, decide to go to the grocery store mid-day, whatever it is. You can also put bags in your car so that you always have them. I’ve also gotten into the habit of just not using a bag at all if I don’t need it.
2. Don’t print receipts if possible
If I have the option, I ask them not to print a receipt. Most receipts contain a harmful, toxic chemical on them called BPA (you might have heard about this from water bottles) which has been researched as a cancer-causing chemical. If you shop at CVS and have a special care account – you can ask the cashier to sign you up for digital receipt. Walgreen’s – to my knowledge – does not offer them (at least here in the city in their Duane Reade locations). If and when you are shopping – always ask if there is an option to just have it emailed! Select the choice if you are presented with a square payment machine.
3. Cut the beef but you don’t have to cut the burger
Listen I GET IT. Burgers are delicious! They are just one of the WORST offenders when it comes to greenhouse gases. An impossible burger generates 89% LESS greenhouse gases compared to a regular burger. A beyond burger is 90% LESS! We have some AMAZING options here – try an impossible burger at burger king today. I’ve gotten hooked, myself!
4. Try not to buy anything new
Thrift – Check out ThredUp, the largest online consignment shop!
5. Audit your waste routine
Have you ever seen the movie About Time? Where at the end he goes through his day appreciating all of the little moments one-by-one? Although not as glamorous, I often go throughout my day and think about everything I’m throwing away. How much of this waste is a constant, daily routine vs. a one-off time I’m throwing it away?
I would go throughout your day making mental notes of everything you’re tossing. Once you’ve collected the routine items (maybe it’s make up wipes, paper towels, etc) think about how many you can replace with a more sustainable, less wasteful alternative. If you’re looking for help with some – message me! Here’s what my own audit entails from the past two years. Let me be clear that you will not always be able to find substitutes and that is okay! Any change is a big change.
- Coffee filters -> Reusable Coffee Filter (FAIL! Melted every time I used the one I ordered)
- Make up wipes -> Reusable Bamboo Make Up Wipes (click for link to buy)
- Saran wrap -> Bees Wrap (click to buy)
- Salad Container -> Just Salad Reusable Salad Bowl (click to learn more)
5. Plastic Sandwich Bags -> Stashers (click to buy)
6. Paper Towels -> Bamboo Cloth (click to buy) (really only feasible if you have in-unit washer and dryer)
7. Aluminum Foil -> Haven’t found solution yet, however started to roast veggies on pan itself
6. Recycle the right way
Not many people know this (I sure didn’t) that you have to actually clean the container before throwing it into recycling bin in order for it to actually be recycled. Anything with food contamination cannot be recycled. When you’re finished with your yogurt cup, make sure you rinse it out under hot water. When you’re finished with your pasta sauce jars, soak in hot water and then add into your next dishwasher load before. Better yet – use it as a glass – or flower vase!
For yogurt, there are also instructions to remove paper and recycle the paper and container separately.
7. Discontinue ordering multiple items with the intent of returning most of them
Are you ready for this? Hauling around returned inventory accounts for 15 million metrics tons of carbon dioxide (another one of those nasty, warming gases) per year. In addition, 5 billion pounds of returned goods end up in landfills every year. The carbon footprint on returns is unbelievable. I hear this all the time, “Oh I’m just going to order a bunch and then send back the ones I don’t like.” Again this might be more of a convenience thing but just be conscious about it!
Bottom line? Make sure you really, really want it!
I hope these have been helpful. Would love to hear about your own changes that you’ve been making with the recent news and willingness to reduce your own impact. Thanks so much for reading!
With lots of love for the planet,
Follow up question for me to investigate: what is the carbon imprint of renting clothes vs. production/return of new?