It's widely accepted that as a nation becomes more modernized, it produces more waste. This is most easily seen when you consider the world's top producers of waste - the United States, China, Germany, and Japan. On a micro-level, consider your own day-to-day life. How often do you stop for a coffee? How many foods do you buy that are wrapped in plastic? And what about shopping bags? One trip to the grocery store for a week's worth of groceries could need up to 10 plastic bags to carry it all.
Garbage is everyone's problem. Why? Because it doesn't stay where you put it. If you burn it, dangerous toxins are released into the atmosphere and are carried around the world. If you bury it, the same thing may happen as the products break down and seep into ground water. And if you toss it out the window as you drive down the highway? It will most likely end up in a stream, river, or ocean.
There is nothing more upsetting and frustrating than cruising the lake on your SUP only to find the perfect inlet for lunch ... that's covered in garbage. That's why we at Stillwater Outdoors want to share a few easy ways that you can help reduce the amount of waste we produce each year to ensure a healthier, cleaner world for all of us to enjoy.
Ten Ways to Help Keep Our World Clean
This one seems obvious, but very few of us do it regularly. Taking the time to separate out recyclables means less waste being dumped in landfills.
2. Reusable Bottles
Along the same line as recycling, reusing is probably one of the easiest and best ways to reduce the amount of waste we produce. Instead of buying recyclable water bottles and then recycling them, why not purchase a reusable bottle made of metal or glass that can last for years or even decades? This small change will reduce the demand for water bottles that could potentially end up where they don't belong.
3. Say No to Straws
Unless you have a disability that requires it, consider saying no the next time someone asks if you'd like a straw (or tell them not to include one in your next drink). Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day! That's enough straws to fill 46,400 school buses with straws every year.
Check out the Be Straw Free Campaign for more information.
4. Reusable Shopping Bags
Though they may cost money up front, being able to use the same shopping bags over and over will save money in the end. Shopping bags are a major polluter of our water bodies and pose serious threats to the wildlife and ecosystems around the world. Pick up a few reusable bags and leave them in your car to ensure you always have them on hand for even impromptu shopping trips.
5. Buy Bulk Foods
Many of us would rather spend more on prepackaged sliced mushrooms than to slice them ourselves. And what about that fruit that neatly sliced and diced and ready to be unwrapped and eaten? Though it may save us time, it costs far more. Not only are you paying extra for the convenience of such things, but you're also increasing the amount of waste that leaves your home every day. Instead, buy unwrapped foods or select items that are packaged in easily recyclable or reusable packaging.
If you want a great resource for more ways you can reduce the waste in your home, check out Small Footprint Family.
6. Eat Out Less
Not only is this healthier for you, but it's healthier for the environment. How many fast food containers and soda cups have you seen littering the side of the road? Too many. If you don't have the time to cook dinner every night, consider cooking meals on the weekend to freeze or refrigerate for the rest of the night. Just be sure to store them in reusable glass containers.
7. Clean Up Our Streets
We often pass litter crews doing their best to collect the garbage on the side of the road, but far more of our infrastructure is left untouched. Why not make a weekend of it? Gather a group of friends, fire up the grill, and have a BBQ after taking an hour or so to clean the stretch of road in front of your house. Many hands make light work, and a little reward never hurt.
8. Clean Up Our Beaches
Same idea, different locale. Organize a beach clean-up at the start and end of summer to help keep our beaches clean, safe, and fun. Talk to local businesses about the event. You may be surprised by how many want to help or sponsor your group.
9. Stop Junk Mail
You don't want it. I don't want it. The environment certainly doesn't want it. In fact, we're not entirely sure who wants it. If you find your mailbox filled with junk mail every day, check out this website to make it stop.
10. Be Conscientious
It's not hard. Be diligent. Be thoughtful. Be aware of what you buy, how you use it, and what ends up tossed aside. Be resistant to marketing ploys to get you to buy that kitchen gadget you will never use and to upgrade your wardrobe every season even though you only wore that sweater once. And most importantly, be kind. To yourself. To others. To our world.
We know that change can be difficult, but even the smallest step made in the right direction is progress.
Remember ... We can do this.
Please share this infographic with friends and family to help raise awareness of the plastic problem.