We’re a whole month into Green Footprints, and I’m am excited to announce that we were able to keep the amount of trash produced in the first month to just under 11 oz., about the size of a small grocery bag!
Now, this does not include recyclable materials or composted food waste. Although recycling is an awesome way to divert waste from the landfill, it is not a net-zero process; it still takes energy to transform that glass bottle, aluminum can or cardboard box back into another product. Same goes for composting; although composted food waste generally is used to fertilize crops, recycling the organic matter back into the soil and the food we eat, it is not a perfect transfer of energy. (If you want to get scientific, only about 1% of energy is transferred between trophic levels, or ‘steps’ in the food chain. The ‘step’ we’re talking about is decomposition, which is done by certain microbes, insects and worms that eat organic matter and excrete it back into the soil in a form that can be used again by plants).
So make sure you are always recycling and composting! But the best option is not to use the stuff in the first place! Whenever grocery shopping, I always make sure to opt for produce that is unpackaged, and I bring my own bags, making it a goal each trip not to produce a single piece of trash. Most of the wrappers I accumulated were from granola bars and the like which were given to me by others (which I am super grateful for!) and there are great options for keeping these items out of the landfill, too. Terracycle, for example, does some awesome work taking nearly any type of trash and turning it into cool, useful items—everything from handbags to office supplies to cleaning products.
Just as an experiment, instead of tossing your trash tomorrow, carry every piece of trash with you in your pocket. Do you really need to use a plastic cup at your office’s water cooler, or would a drink from the water fountain be just as good? This will be a physical reminder and incentive to reduce the amount of materials you consume, and can help you take steps towards being more environmentally conscious in your everyday life. Rob Greenfield has taken this idea to the max, and is currently in New York City—wearing every piece of trash he makes for an entire month! Check it out here! It’s reached a huge audience so far, and along with Green Footprints, will hopefully go a long way in making people more aware of their impact on our planet.
Leave your comments below on the steps you took this month to live more sustainably! We’d love to hear from you!