REDUCE. Refers to reducing your consumption, buying less and properly conserving and utilizing energy, water and natural resources (this will reduce our carbon footprint). As communities we can be successful at reducing our carbon footprint, which contributes to global warming) through many simple opportunities, like shifting our mindset to BUY & USE LESS by, "dimming the glitter of the brand new bauble and shine light, instead on the well-made, useful, but not necessarily new thing" [The Business of Changing the World by, Vincent Stanley]. We can walk, bike or carpool, change our household & business light bulbs to CFLs, unplug our unused power cords and turn off power strips when not in use, set our thermostat to cool 78 and warm 68, reduce our water consumption (19% of California's electricity is used to pump, transport and treat water), use energy efficient appliances, go solar, cut down on yard waste by composting and grasscycling (visit the CalRecycle site for more information ). Finally, many people don't realize, but OUR FOOD CHOICES, because of current agricultural practices, make one of the largest carbon footprints we leave... there are solutions. Please learn more about this by reading some of our other articles & visiting our NUTRITION TOOLBOX to view a short video clip and download a free flyer. Eating less meat, especially red meat and buying only organic fruits and vegetables is a step in the right direction!
REUSE. Rather than throwing out items like clothing or food jars, consumers can find new uses for them -- and thereby reduce their consumption of new resources. Composting, refusing to purchase single use plastic, re-using jars to store beverages or leftover food, and trading or re-selling items are all ways your community can reuse. Like reducing, reusing avoids creating waste rather than trying to recycle it once it's already there. Purchasing higher quality clothing & lifestyle items with the intent to keep them in use longer and without replacing them before their use is up, is another more sustainable alternative. We can find new uses for old things instead of throwing them into the trash, where they end up in overfilled landfills.
RECYCLE. We can PROPERLY recycle our waste. "Historically, when we threw away recyclables, that 'away' was to China, for the most part. In the summer of 2017 China issued a ban on many recyclables in an effort to protect the health of its citizens. China now only accepts a very limited amount of CLEAN & UNCONTAMINATED material." What does this mean for the U.S.? This means our "RECYCLABLES" are currently stock piling and being sent to landfills or countries without waste management systems... so it ends up polluting the planet. Plastics can live for hundreds to thousands of years and these landfills are quickly filling to capacity! Few people know or even realize that even bio-plastics are going to landfills because cities where they are being introduced and used by unaware consumers (who believe they will be recycled), don't have the proper city recycling infrastructure to recycle these items.
We can not RECYCLE OUR WAY OUT OF OUR WASTE. RECYCLING IS NO LONGER A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION, so we must all participate in more aggressive REDUCE & REUSE solutions.
WHAT ARE PROPER RECYCLING PRACTICES (that reduce contamination)?
- Keep PLASTIC BAGS (and film/wrap) OUT of your recycling bin (this is why we need to find alternatives to USING plastic, especially single use plastic!)
- RINSE food-contaminated containers
- Keep NON-RECYCLABLES OUT of your recycling bin (no trash, medical waste, needles, medications or pharmaceuticals, no human or pet waste, diapers, or personal hygiene products.)
*When you start noticing what ISN'T recyclable, you realize how important it is to use your purchase power to...
REFUSE. When we refuse to purchase products and services that don't consider the environmental (and human) impact of it's product or supply chain, we are participating in solutions for BETTER. Instead of a plastic cup and straw at your favorite coffee spot, buy a re-usable straw and cup and use it daily, or bring it with you to use when you're out. Instead of buying plastic baggies for your child's lunch, purchase a PlanetBox or other re-usable solution and go ZERO WASTE with school lunches. (read our article: Solutions for Eco-Friendly School Lunches). When shopping for the new school year, look at how the stores you're buying from, source their materials and what sustainability practices they have (usually a link on their website footer for social responsibility). The COMMERCE FOOTPRINT is large, and needs to start providing plastic free alternatives to packaging, they will only do this prompted by their consumers. Teachers can participate in creating start of year classroom supply request lists that promote responsible choices, 1% for the Planet Organization has some exceptional business' who offer sustainable school supplies. YOUR PURCHASE POWER MAKES AN IMPACT. The 1% for the Planet network is comprised of companies who share these values, and this global community is growing every day!
REGENERATE. To regrow. The final R, is perhaps the most important. As a family, when we talked about this environmental solution, we read a couple of books (see one in our Nutrition Toolbox and the other was, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (avail in our book list). These stories helped our children understand that when we continue to take from something without giving back, eventually that (re)source runs out. We have quite a situation for our Mother Earth's natural resources, for this very reason. If we continue to deplete our natural resources at the rate we currently are, without care or thought to regenerate them, they will be lost forever. There is no make up for FOREVER. Our children will inherit the world we hand to them. Plastic Pollution and the depletion of many other natural resources is destroying our planet. Right now, chemical agriculture is destroying topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished, offering only 60 years of soil sustainability with these practices. Without soil, no crops can be grown. Our NUTRITION TOOLBOX, offers a video about solutions that exist for some of our most pressing, life sustaining environmental challenges, like regenerative organic agriculture. We urge you to learn more and adopt ways of contributing within your family lifestyle and educational platform. School and family level composting and organic gardening are great steps in the right direction!