Today, we’re going to touch on five simple and easy ways that we can all contribute to the reduction of waste, prevention of litter and protection of our lakes. There seems to be this perception that living a more reusable lifestyle is difficult, when in reality, it’s very easy and straightforward! So without further ado:
1. Go Reusable
Each year, millions upon millions of plastic bottles, straws, cups, utensils, grocery bags, and produce bags end up in our landfills…or worse, in our water supply. Plastic makes up more than half of what AGF picks up during our Love Your Lake project, whether it’s in the form of bottles, cups, straws, etc. Can you imagine the impact it would have if every person switched even one of these disposable items to a reusable one? Instead of using more than 200 plastic straws in a year, a person could use one reusable straw again and again. Instead of using flimsy plastic cutlery, a person could use metal or bamboo reusable utensils over and over! These are just a few examples of the way reusable items can easily be swapped out for their disposable counterparts.
2. Don’t Flush!
Now, we’re not saying don’t flush the toilet. You should absolutely flush the toilet as a common courtesy to the people around you, and even to yourself. However, what we can’t say loudly enough is DON’T FLUSH PLASTIC. Plastic?, you may ask yourself. Yes, plastic. 7% of the plastic that ends up on our beaches is coming directly from being flushed down our toilets. It is estimated that 1/3 of adults are flushing objects that should never end up in our sewage systems. So, that plastic tampon applicator and the little plastic wrapper it comes in? You got it: it doesn’t go down the toilet! Neither do Q-tips, wipes, syringes, condoms, or bags of drugs. Here's a great TED Talk to explain further.
3. Skip the Straw
Don’t feel like carrying a reusable straw with you at all times? Forgot your reusable straw at home? No problem. This one is simple. Just don’t get a straw with your beverage. Ask yourself if you really, truly need to use that pesky piece of plastic. Sip straight from the cup, or ask for a lid with a tab instead. Skip the straw. In just 25 litter cleanups our team has picked up 1,403 plastic straws off the shores of Lake Ontario. What's worse? There are millions more out there that are breaking down into microplastics right now.
4. Say No to Plastic
Money speaks volumes, and companies listen when their consumers use their spending to make a point. Avoid buying plastic whenever and wherever possible; instead, opt for metal, wood, bamboo, cotton and other natural materials. Need a new toothbrush? Think bamboo! How about straws? There are silicone and metal straws readily available! Even the polyester we find in our clothes is derived from plastic and releases microplastics each time it is washed! And let’s be real here…soft bamboo clothing sounds way nicer than scratchy polyester, don’t you think?
Are you up for a challenge? Visit Plastic Free July.
5. Pick Up As You Go
The last point is perhaps the easiest to execute. When you find yourself taking a stroll in the park or frolicking on the beach, take a minute out of your day and pick up a few pieces of litter. Can you imagine the staggering results if everyone did this? Make sure the litter pieces end up in the trash or recycling, instead of in our lakes!
We hope that these five methods of protecting your local environment have been enlightening and have helped to reduce some of the stress you may feel about reducing waste! We are always available for questions or concerns, and there are many fantastic resources available online. Knowledge is power, friends.
Tuesday is our least favourite day of the week. For most that would be Monday – work begins and the weekend is nowhere in sight. Wednesday is another commonly disliked day. It’s not quite Monday, but the weekend still seems just as far away. To us, Monday and Wednesday are nothing compared to our dreaded Tuesday.
In our neighbourhood, Tuesday is garbage day. Cans filled to the brim line the street. More often than not, especially if there’s a strong wind, pieces of trash will be blown out of their bins and scatter on the ground. It’s the one day each week that we see how much waste we produce as a household.
At A Greener Future, we are constantly thinking of new ways to eliminate waste in our daily lives. What we’ve realized is, you don’t have to overthink it, you just have to plan it. Here are 5 simple tips you can use to reduce your waste today:
5. Use Reusable Containers
This may seem like a simple one, but too many of us fall victim to the convenience of plastic wrap, tin foil, and plastic zip bags. While we admit there may be a bag or two in our cupboards for emergencies, using reusable lunch containers will keep your food just as fresh, and will minimize the amount of trash coming from your household on a day-to-day basis.
4. Don't Let Food Expire
You may want to sit down for this one. Canadians waste $31 billion worth of food every year. Out of that giant pile of food, 47% is wasted in the home. That statistic is garbage! Literally. Just being mindful of the expiration dates of the food in your fridge can significantly reduce your waste. Meal planning is also a great way to ensure you only buy what you need. And hey, if that cucumber does go bad, just make sure you compost it so it doesn't end up wasting space in the landfill and the nutrients can be reused as soil.
3. Shop Second Hand
Going shopping with a friend after work or school? Try shopping at a second hand store. Reusing items until the end of their life is a great way to reduce waste and keep stuff out of the landfill. You can save a pretty penny, and often come out with good finds, too. Recently, we found a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels that retail for $965, for only $12.99 at our local Value Village! It’s worth it just for the savings! And it works both ways, if you have items you no longer use pass them on to a second hand shop and it might give them a better life and free up space in your home.
2. Use Quality Products
Buying products that last is better for the environment and your wallet. Nowadays most products are meant to have a short lifespan so consumers are forced to replace them more often, but if you shop around you might just find some quality made products that have lifetime guarantees. For some inspiration check out this article: 43 Companies With Lifetime Guarantees on The Penny Hoarder.
1. Reusable Produce Bags
Now that the reusable shopping bag is finally catching on it's time to take it a step further. Come on, I know you can handle it! Reusable produce bags are an easy way to buy loose fruit and veggies at the grocery store or farmer's market. On average only one plastic bag in every 200 is recycled and each year an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide (Source). This simple switch to reusable produce bags can significantly help reduce the number of plastic bags floating around the globe.
You might be thinking we’re crazy in saying there’s an acceptable form of litter, because throwing our garbage on the ground isn’t okay... right?
Right, but wrong. We’ve been exposed to people throwing their cigarette butts on the ground our whole lives. Those little pieces of rubbish may not seem like much, but cigarette butts aren’t biodegradable. That means every butt thrown out a window, stays on the ground, and isn’t going anywhere.
Well, they stay on the ground until someone comes by, and picks them up. Our team at A Greener Future are happy to announce the success of our third annual Butt Blitz! On May 6th, volunteers all across Canada took their butts outside to pick up the ones off the ground.
As you all know, our forever mission is to reduce waste to create a happier, and healthier Earth for everyone. That can be hard to do with all of those cigarette butts on the ground. Lucky for us, TerraCycle Canada has a cigarette waste recycling program so that those little pieces of accepted litter can be repurposed into something better.
Last year, A Greener Future and our volunteers picked up 122,800 cigarette butts to send in to TerraCycle’s program. With an ambitious goal of 200,000 butts this year, our volunteers set foot outside on the morning of May 6th to pick up as many butts as possible.
Our volunteers made a significant dent in reducing the number of cigarette butts polluting our environment. With 25 Butt Blitz events from coast to coast, we managed to pick up a total of 223,354 butts!
We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who coordinated and participated. You helped eliminate a huge amount of litter in Canada on May 6th. We hope to see all of our butt-picking buddies at next years event! (Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 5, 2018)
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