“Going green” is a phrase we hear almost daily. It’s a broad and ever-expanding topic that ultimately can be reduced for each of us to a basic guideline: it all starts at home. The media is providing a bounty of information about the condition of our planet and encouraging us to rethink how we live and carry out our routine activities. Living green is not only about caring for and protecting our planet. It’s about empowering ourselves, making healthy lifestyle choices, and dictating to the marketplace how we want to live instead of the reverse.
Part of to the green movement, “sustainability” is a relatively new buzzword and an important trend. To live sustainably, we must only use the Earth’s resources at a rate in which they can be replenished. Here are some ways that we can all do our part.
The most basic green living choice we can make is to recycle. Depending on where you live, this couldn’t be any easier with curbside “single-stream” collection, requiring no pre-sorting. In central Virginia, recycled items are hand sorted, so including only approved items lowers costs and keeps the process flowing smoothly. Composting is also a great way of recycling, and yields better soil than can be purchased.
A new trend is emerging which could be thought of recycling on steroids. Up-cycling, or repurposing, is creating a new product or use for something that would normally become part of a landfill, the new product being intrinsically more valuable than the original. For example, when plastic is recycled we get more plastic, but when it is up-cycled we get fabrics, synthetic decking materials, light fixtures, etc. Choosing to renew or reuse an item- for instance, restyling or reupholstering a salvageable chair or sofa- saves it from death by landfill. Sometimes the cost can approach that of a new purchase, but reuse is definitely the green alternative.
GREEN TIP #2- RETHINK PLASTICS
Packaging is an issue needing a major green overhaul. The bottled water industry has been an unbelievable phenomenon. It is astonishing to realize how many bottles of water are being consumed and how much of that plastic ends up in landfills. What is more surprising is that much of the water tested is either no better or actually poorer quality than the water from your tap. Bottles are easy to grab on the run, but upon consideration of the bigger picture it just makes sense to buy a nice travel water thermos and refill it instead. Plastic bags are another environmental concern. Some are recycled, but we as consumers can insist on development of biodegradable plastics or a return to paper bags made from highly renewable sources such as bamboo.
See part 2 and 3 for more tips on living green!
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