Have you ever wondered just how effectively we are dealing with our waste these days? Many people have only a vague idea about what happens to our everyday waste once it has disappeared from view in the back of a garbage truck. Thankfully, we have come a very long way recently and many of our sustainability efforts are starting to pay off.
Our more responsible waste management efforts are focused on four primary areas today. In the not so distance past our only option was the landfill as all of our waste was handled by being buried in the ground. Today, with recycling leading the way, our options for responsible waste management continue to grow.
Let's explore the four areas we mentioned:
By reducing the amount we buy, use and throw away from the start, we are saving energy and reducing our carbon footprint immediately. Many times we are throwing things in the trash that could be repaired and re-used, composted for our gardens or sent to a recycling center. Think about the difference in waste between buying in bulk or buying products with packaging that is more environmentally friendly.
Did you know that making an aluminum can requires 70% more energy than making a can from recycled materials? So much of what we throw away can be recycled and used over and over again. Recycling creates it's own carbon footprint, but still uses much less energy then creating new packaging or products. If you do not have a community recycling center in your area, perhaps a letter to the Mayor or Editor of your newspaper, might get the ball rolling. Did you know that 2000 pounds of newspaper recycled means that we save about 15 trees?
Approximately 30% of our household waste is comprised of "organic" material. These are items like potato peels, coffee grounds, left over food scraped off plates after meals or leaves and grass clippings from your yard. Composting is nature's way of recycling and it practically effortless. The result will mean nutrient-rich soil for healthier plants. Just think, 30% of what is in the landfill could be eliminated if we would just practice this one simple step.
Most of the things we make are created from natural resources. We use resources such as trees, minerals, oil and gas. By avoiding the landfill and using these resources more than once, we can reduce the amount we need to start with. Reusing resources means less waste and conservation of those things that are not renewable.
One of the most creative ways of reusing waste is the art of "upcycling". By repurposing waste materials and other so-called useless products, we can actually improve their quality and give them value where there was none. You can try upcycling yourself or you can consider the acquisition of items created by others. Either way you will be contributing to a more sustainable future.
It is obvious that we we need to change the way we think about how we use our natural resources, especially those that are not renewable. By imaging a world with abundant clean air, water and soil and then working toward that goal, we will continue to find ways to change the way we feel about sustainability in our daily lives.
Danielle is an upcycling, green living, environmentally friendly, recycling, tree-hugging freak of nature... in the most eco way possible of course! She spends her weekends saving the planet and will now be writing about it for the Hipcycle Blog.