I know, I know. Another list of obvious tips to help the environment with vaguely condescending overtones. Sorry — I’ve got to do it.
1. Buy glass and aluminum cans instead of plastic. People tell you plastic can be recycled but it’s really merely downcycled. It is merely processed into a secondary product that generally can’t be recycled again. Sorry to have to break it to you like this.
2. Bring your own bags. It’s worth investing in some cloth ones. Big supermarket chains often have an unpublicized policy of giving you three or five cents credit for every bag you bring in. If you forget, at least take paper, not plastic! (see #1)
3. Bring you own cup. If you bring your own beverage container (at least at Starbucks and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf) you get a ten cent discount. I got my commuter cup in a thrift store — an environmental bonus!
4. Buy quality products. If you buy crappy furniture, cheap carpet, and shoes that are destined to last only a few months, then soon you’ll be buying more stuff. In the long run you’ll pay just as much as if you took the hit the first time around, and will have created a lot of trash in the process. Wouldn’t you rather have a beautiful wooden dresser that generations after you can enjoy than a series of ten crummy ones you bought at Ikea that fall apart and end up in the dump?
5. Drive a fuel-efficient car. Climate change is the biggest environmental crisis facing the world right now. What causes it? Burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests, mainly. Still not convinced? Read this article about how scientists have shown that the air is warming up a lot faster on land — where humans are — than above the ocean. Give up the SUV. I’m begging you.
6. Get things fixed. Don’t chuck things that can still made usable. Resole your shoes, repair your appliances, have your rugs re-stitched together.
7. Buy stuff used. Frequent yard sales, thrift stores, ebay. Especially where I live, in L.A., people are always getting rid of great stuff. I’m going to start posting my finds on the site to win you over. You’ll see.
8. Lower your standards. Your workout outfit is starting to look frayed? Your computer is considered obsolete? Revel in it!
9. Use less water. Freshwater availability is at a crisis level in some communities. Desalination plants are being proposed at numerous locations to make ocean water drinkable — at who knows what price to the environment. Only wash full loads of laundry or dishes. If you’ve got a yard, plant trees and plants that can grow without the use of sprinklers.
10. Eat less meat. The more commerically-produced meat people eat, the more antiobiotics are used on animals, which brings down their effectiveness in the human population. Vegetables also take much less water to produce than meat does.
11. Put only items that can be recycled into your curbside recycling. That means no plastic grocery bags, no styrofoam, and, in the words of Joan Crawford, no more wire hangers! Check out the list of recyclables here in Santa Monica. It’s probably similar to the list in your community.
Also, think globally, but complain locally. Is your supermarket not carrying eco-friendly laundry detergent? Is your workplace dumping recyclables into the trash? Start yapping.