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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. - Part. II



In a previous post I already talked about reducing our garbage, energy, emissions and pollution.

Taking steps toward reducing all of those in one's life will have a huge impact on our environment.
But, the most important thing to do when it comes to reduction of waste is reduce consumption.
Consumption is where it all starts: the energy to produce, the pollution and emissions for shipping and packaging, the layers and layers of packaging for the product itself, and eventually the disposal of the product.

You are the most important person in the process of waste prevention. Think twice before you go on a big shopping tour. And obviously I'm not talking about food shopping here - we all have to eat.
For food, try to follow these simple food guidelines to be on the environmentally safe side:
  • buy in bulk whenever you can
  • visit farmer's markets
  • shop locally grown produce and local animal products
  • prefer organically grown food whenever possible (especially when it comes to the dirty dozen list) 
  • bring your own shopping bag
  • bring your own fabric produce bags (these are amazing! They'll keep your produce so much fresher! Locally you can get them at go lightly and if you don't live nearby, check out natural stores or the internet)
  • have plant-based meals as often as you can 
  • avoid foods that are packaged in many layers
 So much for the food. We can't really reduce the amount of food we consume (or, actually, some of us should, um, including myself), but we can reduce packaging, energy, emissions and pollution by choosing wisely.

Now let's talk about another big part of our never-ending consumption: clothes!
Most fabrics are made of cotton. Conventionally grown cotton is a big hazard for the environment, and production for fabrics requires a ton of energy.
One way to reduce the impact on the planet is going for organic cotton.
Writes Rachel Sarnoff at celsias "It takes an astounding one-third of a pound of pesticide to make one t-shirt and two-thirds to make a pair of jeans. (Dump a pound of flour into a bowl and keep that visual in mind the next time you go shopping." Yuck!

Digging a little deeper, I learned that cotton, the material that most clothes are made of, requires immense amounts of chemicals. Less than 3% of agricultural land is planted with cotton, but it consumes 20% of all pesticides used, and 22% of all insecticides. Five of the 46 commonly used chemicals are considered ‘extremely hazardous, eight ‘highly hazardous', and 20 ‘moderately hazardous' (source: WWF).

To process cotton into cloth, loads more chemicals are being used to soften the fibres, strip them of their texture, bleach them white and then dye into their final colors. According to BBC, thousands of different chemicals can go into the making of a t-shirt.

Wow! Think about that before you buy that T-shirt or pair of pants that you saw in a shopping window the other day.
Easy ways to avoid harming the environment by clothes-and fabric shopping:
  • choose organic fabrics (organic cotton is grown without chemicals. This is better for the environment, and better for people)
  • visit local thrift stores, they often have an amazing collection - and it will save you some money, too!
  • garage sales and swaps are other options to get nice clothing and fabrics
  • and last but not least: reduce your wardrobe: really, how many new pieces of clothing do we need?

We have too much stuff! From clothes over toys to electronics and simply everything!
We need to rethink our actions and realize that we have to change our old, bad habits.
Try to avoid these common consumer habits and help the environment by reducing waste, energy and pollution:
  • Buying something just because it's on sale
  • Getting a second set of dishes/linen/glassware/... just to have it in case
  • Taking our kid's imagination away by giving them too many toys
If you have about 20 minutes, you can check out this video - it shows in a very entertaining way that we have too much stuff!

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