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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. - Part. I

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has become the official slogan when it comes to environmental issues on an individual basis.

I actually like to add “Reconsider” to the list, but we’ll get to that later.

For now, let’s focus on “Reduce”. So what does reduce mean for an individual?

I bet your first thought was garbage, of course! And that is a good start.

We all agree that reducing the amount that goes into our landfills helps our planet.

Ok, agreed. So, how do we reduce garbage?

  • Compost (See also my post about composting)
  • Give items that you no longer need to someone who needs them
  • BYO (a.k.a. Bring Your Own) – from shopping and produce bags to coffee cups for on-the-go etc.
  • Switch to reusable water bottles, snack and lunch containers, napkins, cleaning clothes etc. (in other words: avoid disposables)
  • Buy in bulk rather than in packages. Check out the bulk section at your local supermarket and you’ll be surprised how much dry stuff you’ll get cheaper and environmentally friendlier

If you adapt some or all of these steps, you’ll be surprised at how much your garbage amount will shrink. So let’s keep the good work going and trying our best.

But – reducing garbage is not all there is. How about reducing energy? Reducing emissions? Reducing pollution?

Yes, that’s not only the big corporations, that’s US, too! Here are some simple steps everybody can take to reduce his or her ecological footprint even more:

  • Save energy by turning off electronic devices when not in use (a light indicates that energy is being used even when the appliance is not in use, e.g. at the T.V.)
  • Turn off the lights when nobody is in the room
  • Run (dish)washers only when they’re full
  • Use energy-saving lightbulbs
  • Reduce your use of air-conditioning (sometimes just getting some cross-ventilation does the trick), especially when you’re not home
  • Leave the car in the garage as much as you can. You can do some of your errands walking – and this is even a big health plus!
  • Ever thought about carpooling? Maybe you can get to work with somebody who lives close by? Or your kids can go with some friends?
  • Use public transportation as often as you can
  • Reduce your animal product intake – just one day per week without animal products would help reducing global greenhouse gas emissions
  • Switch to green cleaning supplies
  • Buy organic and/or local produce whenever possible

And that’s just a start. Imagine what that’d do if more and more people get into it!

I know it’s hard to think of everything and change it all at once.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Start slowly but consistently and try to change one thing at the time. Educate others and share your stories – I’d love to hear about your progress!

Here’s an incredible short videoclip that you might want to watch: Artist Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics -- like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.

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