How can we be sustainable consumers? We have another die warning from the UN on the climate crisis we are experiencing. Buying more stuff does not help the earth. If you need to purchase items, do it in a more sustainable manner. See below.
We don’t need to purchase to be happy. I went to see the new Fred Rogers movie. The messages are subtle, but say a lot. Rogers was a master at helping children to feel important. and to feel good about themselves. He thought television was an excellent educational tool, but had been ruined because it tried to turn children into consumers demanding things they didn’t need. As we enter the holiday season and a time of extreme consumerism read more about Fred and his philosophy here
Consumerism and saving money is on our minds. Unfortunately, we have become a throwaway society. Do you use an item for a short time then throw it away, and even worse we raise our children to get bored quickly from that item they just had to have. Again, we don’t need to purchase to be happy. This holiday, how can we be more sustainable and honor the season at the same time?
Join or create your own Friday climate march #FridayforFuture
Always shop with a reusable bag and avoid all plastic.
Shop reuse stores. Some of my favorite clothes come from consignment stores.
Give gifts of help, time and outside events.
Shop retailers that pay living wages, and are local over big box stores.
Buy nothing and save 100%. Reuse what you have!
Purchase items that will last instead of cheap junk.
“I only feel angry when I see waste, when I see people throwing away things we could use.” Mother Teresa Only 9% of recyclables are recycled in the United States compared with Germany and Norway that recycle in the 60% range. Plastic manufacturers continue to create more plastic and push recycling. Unfortunately, recycling is not a sustainable option. I hope you will work hard to recycle your bottles, containers and paper waste because making things from recycled material is awesome and saves lots of energy and natural resources, but as consumers we need to also purchase items made from recycled materials.
A new paradigm is needed, we all need to reduce the waste and recycling we generate. Wasteful packaging needs to stop! Make it a priority in your life to reduce the waste you generate. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
First, cook at home instead of take-out. Yes, it is some work, but organizing to have a few meals made ahead or in crock pots can reduce lots of waste and be fun at the same time.
Always carry your reusable water bottle and reusable bags.
Be a smart shopper, always think how you can purchase less waste, especially plastic waste. Don’t purchase plastic or Styrofoam trayed produce. Many stores have cloth bags you can purchase for produce.
Shop in bulk and refill any bottles your grocery store makes possible. Food coops have lots of refill options.
Choose products out of recycled material if you can find them.
Never put plastic bags in your recycling cart, recycle them at your local stores.
Three months ago two large grocery stores in Australia banned plastic bags. It has lead to an eighty percent reduction in plastic bag use in Australia. Read about it here.
In England retailers are reporting a 90% drop in plastic bag use after a bag fee was introduced in 2015.
Businesses can take leadership and help make enormous changes to help our Earth. Call on Target to help. Here is a petition you can sign to get Target to ban plastic bags. Petition to Target
We can all make a difference also! First you can always bring your reusable/washable bags with you shopping. Make bringing bags a habit. Next, lets get Target to take leadership and ban plastic bags in their stores. Sign the petition, but also ask them to ban plastic bags when you visit their stores. Petition to Target
July, Plastic Free July, is almost over, but it’s not too late to set goals to reduce your plastic use. Start now!
It is hopeful that some states and countries have made important laws on the regulation of single-use plastic in the past six months. Where I live the corporations and lobbyists have so much power over the decisions and law making that plastic pollution continues. The first committee where I worked on plastic bag legislation was over 25 years ago!! But I am thrilled with the legislation of other places.
We are living in a time when people don’t want regulation, OK then, take personal responsibility, and reduce your plastic footprint by reusing washable containers, bags and water bottles.
As I write this I am traveling in Ontario, Canada. I was at the grocery store and everyone had their reusable bags. At a restaurant I said, “No straw please!” the waiter response was, “Our straws are made of paper!” WOW! Also, Canada has passed legislation to ban single-use plastic in a few years.
Other places have recently passed single use plastic bans. Read about it at: Maine and Vermont, and California works to regulate all types of plastic packaging. Oregon has bans on plastic bags, and New Zealand has began their bag ban. The European Union is working on single-use plastic bans, and even Thailand is trying to make a positive difference. Maine has passed a Styrofoam container ban that I think is huge!
We can all take personal responsibility and reduce our plastic footprint. Always bring your shopping bags and eliminate those take-out containers unless they are compostable. Everyone making a small effort adds up to an enormous difference!
Reducing single-use plastic consumption is an important way we can make a positive change for our earth. We can make a big difference, and change the way we live our lives. Let’s start with One Plastic-Free Day, June 6. It’s not easy reducing your plastic foot-print, but it is possible. Becoming aware of all the plastic we purchase helps to start making change.
It is my hope that if we don’t purchase plastic items corporations will realize they need to make bottles and containers out of something that decomposes and can be composted. The plastic and oil industry will do everything they can to stop progress. That is why the consumer needs to speak!
Plastics are found in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the fish we eat. I think this raises the bar that we need to make changes to our plastic life-style and fast.
My plastic-free journey has taken several years, it has been challenging, but fun at the same time. Filling bottles and containers with bulk item has just become habit. Food co-ops make it easy. It just takes a little organization to make a grocery list and figure which containers are needed for filling. I reuse the bottles and containers I have accumulated from earlier purchases. Also, we never eat at places that don’t use real dishes and utensils, but are still trying to remember to say, “No straw!” We never leave home without reusable water bottles and washable reusable bags. This past year we have begun making cookies, yogurt and humus with items from bulk shopping. Something I never wanted to take on, but now I make it fun, and zero waste cooking is healthy, rewarding and satisfying.
What are some items that are impossible to purchase in bulk and need to come in plastic?
Here are a few quick easy zero waste ideas from my local county: “There are many ways to avoid single-use items. Want a quick list? Pack your lunch in reusable containers. Forgo the straw in your drink. Bring your own mug to the coffee shop. Bring reusable bags, produce bags and containers to the grocery store. Support businesses that serve food on reusable dishes.” Hennepin County
Shopping at a grocery store or drug store is one of the most frustrating things I do, everything is packaged in plastic. Luckily, I have some excellent food coops a bus ride away from my house. I save containers and refill them with bulk items. A local meat department in a local grocery store will even refill my containers with meat purchases, which even my coops won’t refill. Science 101 has one of the best articles on reducing plastic that I have ever read, and I learned things from them. Start with a few items to refill. When you get the idea and feel comfortable move to add more plastic-free items. Here is Science 101’s article, on easy ways to reduce plastic. Refilling containers can be fun and satisfying.
Only 9 percent of the plastic every produced has been recycled, and no one knows how many hundreds of years it will pollute our environment. It breaks into tiny pieces, ends up in our water sources, is in our food and kills wildlife! Why is plastic harmful? Read here.
Coops will help you get started refilling containers, and I am willing to help if you ask. Let’s all work to reduce our plastic foot-print.