I encountered 1000s of plastic bottles on a canoe trip once and swore that I would never buy another drink in a plastic bottle.
That is very hard to do, but I remember that image in the river every time my hand reaches for a drink in a bottle that’s destined to end up in the trash in about 10 minutes. As a result I have cut down on about 90 percent of my plastic bottle purchases. I have been able to do this by using water fountains and taking a reusable water container wherever I go.
But that is only one small part of the waste stream we are all responsible for. We have a real waste problem in this country and it all contributes heavily to our climate crisis. It costs us a great deal of money and carbon emissions to ship all the waste to landfills and landfills create a lot of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) as the waste degrades. We need to move beyond that concept of waste disposal to one of waste prevention.
Consumers have a big role to play in reducing our wastes as do businesses. Never forget, consumer demand drives business – we have the power to direct which businesses succeed. We therefore need to send clear messages with each of our purchases.
- Don’t buy things unless you need them – this sounds so simple, but… Don’t let the marketing trick you into impulse buying of stuff you really don’t want or need.
- Consider buying things that are easily reused or recycled – This represents a great opportunity for new or more enlightened businesses.
- Always ask if there is a more sustainable option – More business opportunities.
- Don’t support businesses who are not committed to a sustainability business plan.
- Wean yourself off of fossil fuels, plastics, wasteful packaging.
- Compost your food wastes – makes great fertilizer.
- Reduce meat consumption – I cut back about 60% – it isn’t hard and is healthier.
- Reorder your investment strategy based on environmental and climate goals. This is also easy to do – ask your financial advisor.
The efforts now going into reducing single-use plastics is just one example of the positive energy of people who are responding and trying to deal with these problems. We need to support their efforts, help to expand them, and get more businesses on board..