Guest post by Jeff Smith
A huge part of reducing your carbon footprint is being mindful of the amount of waste you produce on a day-to-day basis. While businesses and corporations are hugely responsible for their impact on our planet, individual consumers make up a lot of the waste as well, so it’s on all of us to do our part to leave the earth in better shape than when we first entered it.
Be a less wasteful consumer
Changing your consumption habits is an absolute necessity if we are going to have any significant impact on reversing the pace of climate change. While paper is the world’s most frequently recycled product, plastic is not only a major culprit in worsening the effects of climate change, including carbon emissions and pollution, it is one of the least recycled products. Yes, even if you are dutifully recycling your plastic, much of it is ending up in a landfill anyway, because most single-use plastic is too expensive or complicated to recycle. Less than 10% of plastics are being recycled annually, while more than 8 billion tons of new plastic is being produced each year. In fact, single-use plastics are among the worst polluters of land, sea, and air. Researchers at the University of Hawaii have demonstrated that plastics emit methane and other greenhouse gases as they break down (a process that takes anywhere from 10-450 years in the environment, or up to 1000 years in a landfill).
That’s where the zero-waste movement comes in. You’ve likely heard of it—the idea that you can live a happy, fulfilling life while producing absolutely zero waste. While this may not be reasonably attainable for everyone, you’re sure to find that there are multiple areas of your life where you can cut down waste, specifically at home, when you’re traveling, and when you’re shopping or eating out. There are a growing number of tips and tools out there for people who are trying to adopt zero-waste habits. Some of these habits are fairly easy to develop, while others will take real dedication (not to mention resigning yourself to being on the receiving end of some strange looks from people who don’t see the point).
Like any lifestyle change, going zero-waste doesn’t happen overnight. However, arming yourself with a few reusable products like reusable shopping bags, recyclable paper straws, or metal tumblers that can be cleaned in the dishwasher when you’re done, you’ll likely find that you’re saving money since you’re not constantly re-buying disposable products. There are other things you can do that will become second nature as you continue to do them. Want some help reducing your consumption of non-reusable products? Download these zero-waste checklists from our friends at Self Lender to get started on your journey to less waste.
Free tips and tools for you
E-Checklist for a Greener Home: Download
E-Checklist for When You’re Out and About: Download
Jeff Smith is the Vice President of SEO at Self Lender, an organization that helps thousands of people begin their financial journey with a credit builder account. He also serves as Editor of the Self Lender blog and was previously a newspaper editor.
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