Easy Ways to Choose and Use Environmentally-friendly Packaging
Now that you've made a commitment to living a more sustainable lifestyle, you're probably looking for the environmentally friendly way to handle just about everything in your life. That's good, because just about every facet of western life can do with some leaning-up. One of the easiest ways to do this is through managing the sort of packaging you bring into the house, as well as what you do with it.
As they say: “reduce, reuse, recycle.”
Reducing your Packaging Waste
You have more control than you might imagine over the amount of waste you bring into your home. If you bring it in, it's not only a chance to make an environmentally friendly disposal choice, but your duty to make sure you do so in a manner that is safe. For instance, many people were swayed from using alkaline batteries just because they were becoming problematic to dispose of safely.
Reusable bags are another prime example of an item that has become a global concern. Even when you reuse them a few times, plastic bags must go somewhere, and wherever that is, they've been found to leach out toxic by-products. You can bring your own reusable bag and save the whole bother, without having to make the mind-boggling decision as to whether it's best to get your stuff in paper or plastic.
Avoiding the Single Use Mentality
Of course, if you are given a plastic bag, you can reuse it several times, until it gets old and shredded. Resealable bags are another famous example of a product that was meant for a single use and may be cleaned and used again – reborn as a reusable bag that is perfectly safe and sound.
Other single use items can be replaced. Plain, cotton bar towels, for instance, can replace rolls and rolls of paper towels. Many times the amount of water is required to manufacture a single roll of paper towels, as compared with the manufacture and shipment of a cloth version and a washing. Over time, that adds up to a tremendous savings in just that single resource, not to mention making only one trip to your house.
Choosing to Buy Recyclable Goods and Getting Them to the Bins
Aluminum, for instance, requires only 5% of the energy to recycle into new items as compared with mining new ones. Plastics save about 70% when recycled, with steel and paper saving 60 and 40% respectively on their virgin counterparts. Recycled paper has the advantage of eliminating nearly three-quarters of the air pollution associated with virgin paper production from wood pulp.
The kitchen is a very common place to create refuse, much of it as a consequence of purchasing processed goods. Therefore, the more food you make yourself, the fewer of these containers and wrappers will fall into either the recyclable or trash streams. However, even when you must make waste, you can choose packaging that can be recycled by your local recyclers
Getting your recyclable items to the bin is easy in most cities. Environmentally friendly city councilpersons have made sure there are plenty of places for urbanites to recycle. If you live in a rural area, this might mean hauling stored recyclables yourself in a semi-regular recycler-run. Since most recyclers are privately-owned in the US, you'll need to check with each one to find out what is accepted. The market for some items is soft and can be removed as an option unless there are state or federal monies to subsidize the recycling of some materials, such as hazardous waste.
Green Shopping Choices
Many stores now have offer environmentally friendly options, such as using your own reusable bags, allowing slow shipping options, safe and natural options for many product lines as well as pointing out what items are locally-made and come with minimal packaging(since there's no shipping). These items are all interrelated and a store that features items that either reduce or reuse packaging are often sustainable in other areas, too.
Many people have come to look upon the vast quantities of un-recyclable waste as an opportunity to do better. Every shopper who uses reusable bags, pays a few cents more for the environmentally friendly option or takes a few extra seconds to check and see how the packaging on an item can be recycled is making a huge difference. You'll keep from having so much waste to do something with, offset some more of your carbon footprint and reduce contamination of otherwise safe groundwater.
And once in the habit, you'll find it hard to believe that you ever lived any other way.
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