More Simple Steps
Going green goes out the door when it comes to American’s consumption of paper goods like paper towels and napkins. You can’t reuse them and recycling used towels and napkins is rare. According to figures from the EPA on municipal solid waste, we send about 6.8 billion pounds of disposable tissue products to landfills annually – tissue, paper towels, napkins, etc. – wads and wads of them, and less than o.5 percent of them get recycled.
So what do you do? Try cloth dish towels and rags. Definitely say no to paper when drying hands, wiping counters, drying dishes, etc. Turn your fam and friends onto cloth napkins. A throw back to days gone by, but a perk for the future for sure.
When you do have to grab the paper stuff, be sure to purchase recycled and chlorine free products. Get smart though – just because the label says “recycled” doesn’t always mean what it says. It could mean it’s made from leftovers from virgin paper runs, not post consumer recycled paper. Post consumer good, virgin paper bad.
Our paper product recommendations: Seventh Generation and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Paper Towels.
Reduce paper and ink by printing documents on both sides, at home and at work.
Or better yet, go digital! Store and read documents on your computer.
Eliminate (and stop paying for) “vampire” or “phantom” energy use by unplugging appliances and electronics when you’re not using them, or by purchasing a “smart” power strip.
In the United States, “vampire” energy consumption is roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity the country of Italy consumes annually.
Borrow instead of buy! Save money and the environment by exchanging and borrowing goods and other items.
Sharing movies, power tools, and kitchen appliances with friends or neighbors can greatly reduce the amount of plastic products we use.
Plastic is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource and major contributor to global warming.
Thousands of marine wildlife and more than a million birds are killed each year due to plastic bag pollution.
Have a huge pile of magazines you’ve already read cover to cover? Give them new life by passing them onto a friend, or by donating them to local businesses, such as doctor’s offices or local gyms- wherever your to do list takes you! The SPCA is also always appreciative of old newspapers.
Cell phone devices and accessories can be reused by charities that distribute them to people in need (even a de-activated cell phone can place a 911 phone call).
Even if the phone is unusable, if properly recycled, the device itself can be refurbished, toxic parts can be properly disposed of, or any reusable materials can be salvaged.
Want to get rid of extra household items, but just don’t have time for a yard sale? Tossing things in the trash may seem like a simple solution, but give your conscious something to feel good about instead and donate your unwanted stuff to local charities!
Approximately 93% of all textile waste recycled is reclaimed; however, 85% of all textile waste goes directly to landfills. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, the items you consider useless could be put to good use by people less fortunate than you.
One hundred years ago 99.99% of people got by without cars. They took the train, they lived near their workplaces…. and they walked. Using fuel efficient cars is important, but we can save even more fuel by simply driving less and driving smart.
Check out public commuter options, and consider carpooling. Commute Smart makes it terribly easy (and profitable) to cut down on emissions, gas costs, and even make friends. They connect you with folks from your job and your community who are willing to carpool and then they pay you to do it! Sold!
Items you may be throwing away can contaminate land and water for thousands of years. Sure you won’t be here, but someone will and they will be dealing with your waste. You know the cycle…
Most communities have special disposal procedures for things like used oil and batteries. For instance used cooking oil can be taken to one of the City of Hoover’s nine fire stations for recycling into biodiesel fuel. Contact 205-444-7655 or firstname.lastname@example.org for locations.
Items like ink cartridges can probably be recycled where you bought them. And many of the new CFL bulbs contain mercury, so proper disposal is crucial. Check with the store you buy them from for options for proper disposal.
Bring your bags with you. By taking reusable bags to the grocery store, you can cut down on the 350 bags the average American uses each year and reduce needless deaths of marine life caused by plastic bags that end up in streams, rivers and oceans.
Quick Tip: Give up the paper cups
Yes, we know it’s so tempting to grab a paper cup every once and a while – especially in the hustle and bustle of the office environment. Unfortunately, it’s just not worth it!
There are an average of 130 billion paper cups used in the United States every year. They are usually coated, so they can’t be recycled or composted, which means total waste.
Stay committed to using a mug or thermos – even when the convenience of a paper cup seems so attractive! After all, no one ever said being a greenie was easy…