It's almost 2016, and I challenge you to examine your trash habits and find new ways of reducing in the new year!
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces 4.5 lbs of trash per day. That's 250 million tons of waste generated each year in the United states, which is enough to fill a football field size hole that's 100 miles deep. When we throw something away, it becomes out of site, out of mind. And when we begin to examine our trash habits, we realize that there is no "away."
I used to contribute to the expansion of landfill sites. I changed my trash habits and now I live a zero-waste life. Here is all of the trash that I have made in the last 5 months. This way of being in the world has re-kindled my sense of wonderment and awe that I felt as a child. I am liberated and intrigued with the phenomena and beauty of this kind planet!
What's the environmental impact of our beverage habits? Ask yourself the questions, do I bring my own cup when I get coffee and other liquids on the go? Do I bring my own reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water? If I don't, what are the truths about how my habits of disposable convenience are polluting the planet we all share?
Trash is a huge problem. As we continue to manufacture plastic water bottles, cups, and other disposable ware (to name a few), we're using up precious resources and increasing pollution which harms us, animals, and the environment.
I often hear people giving up on zero-waste before they even try it. Start by making small changes that have long term positive effects, like bringing your own cup and or water bottle.
I found out from Betacup that in the United States roughly 58 billion paper cups are thrown away each year, ending up in the landfill or in rivers, lakes, and the ocean (not recycled). Roughly 20 million trees are cut down to manufacture these cups, and it takes about 12 billion gallons of water to produce the cups. We could have powered 23,000 homes or we could have saved those precious resources.
While reading about the production of plastic water bottles through banthebottle.net, I learned that each year Americans use 50 billion plastic water bottles which take 17 million barrels of crude oil to manufacture. Imagine a water bottle filled ¼ of the way up with oil--that's how much it takes to produce one bottle! The recycling rate for plastic water bottles nationwide is 23%, which means that 38 billion of the plastic water bottles produced ended up in the landfills, lakes, rivers, and the ocean! We could have fueled 1 million cars for an entire year or powered 190,000 homes.
Chemicals in plastic water bottles, like BPA can leach into the water. BPA is an endocrine disrupter and can cause developmental, neurological and reproductive problems. Plastic is also non-biodegradable. It only begins degrading after roughly 700 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet, and we keep making more! (National Institute of Environmental Health & Science)
Sustainably starts with us! By being the change that we wish to see in the world, we can have a positive effect on the health of our planet and the health of humankind. Part of the solution is to stop supporting the plastic industry and the production of paper cups. You can do this by bringing your own cup every time you purchase a beverage and by bringing your own water bottle instead of purchasing a plastic one every time you are thirsty. By creating these healthy habits we will be reducing our trash contribution to the waste cycle, which saves precious resources, plants, animals, and will improve our overall health and happiness!