The green message is everywhere. Reduce what you purchase and consume, reuse or repurpose what you have, and recycle everything you can. It’s a rare community that doesn’t have some form of recycling program, and if it’s simple enough to follow, most of us will do the right thing and use the little bins.
But if it’s too much of a hassle, or too confusing, we quickly revert to the everything-in-the-trash mindset. But what’s wrong with that? We’re recycling most of the time, right?A quick search of statistics on recycling, waste, landfills, and decomposition proves one thing for sure – finding facts is tough in this business. Several eco-friendly sites claim your plastic grocery bag, left to its own devices, will take up to 1,000 years to decompose. The truth is, we really don’t know. Most scientific studies on waste decomposition rates have not tracked actual decomp in a real-world environment, but have been under carefully controlled conditions mimicking the landfill environment. Which means, it’s a well-educated guess.
However, since most modern landfills are become more and more isolated and are practically hermetically sealing the trash, decomp rates are even slower still. A banana peel left out in the open will pretty much be gone in about a month. In a modern landfill, it’s more likely to be mummified than to truly decompose.
And styrofoam? That stuff just never goes away or decomposes.
So what’s the answer?
There are entire industries built on trying to answer that question with complex strategies and plans. We prefer to take a simpler approach. If each individual person took just a single step toward a greener lifestyle, the world would be a better, cleaner place. And if they continued to take little steps, it would be even better.
What are single steps? Oh, that’s easy! Things like:
- Switch to cloth napkins (laundered in cold water) instead of paper.
- Use reusable containers to store or transport food instead of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
- Reuse boxes, bags and wrapping paper.
- Switch to rechargeable batteries.
- Use refillable water bottles/coffee cups instead of plastic or paper.
- Buy concentrated products, or those that feature less packaging.
- Switch to reusable grocery bags. Bonus step: bring your own little mesh bags for produce!
- Compost organic trash.
It really can be that easy. Start simply; take the steps that are easiest for you and your lifestyle. Once you’ve adopted one new habit, move on to the next. It won’t take long before you have a whole new set of earth-healthy behaviors.
If everyone took this approach, we could move mountains – of garbage – in no time.