4 environmentally friendly habits to pick up in the New Year
Updated: Jan 13
As my 'About Me' indicates, I previously served as a law clerk for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Philadelphia, Pa. Despite being previously interested in environmental conservation, it was through this experience I truly began to understand the value of our environment and how important it is to protect it.
1. Use reusable bags!
How many times have you been on a walk and noticed a plastic bag on the beach, covered in snow, in the sewage grate, or anywhere besides where it belongs? How many times have you been on I-95 and noticed the trees on the side of the interstate had bags hanging from them? Have you ever thought "How could someone actually throw their trash out the window?" or "Why doesn't someone clean that up?"
The problem with plastic bags is the fact that we are using plastic bags. These unsightly scenes would begin to disappear if we all took the initiative in the New Year to stop using them. In 2021, I suggest we make it a priority to simply use our reusable bags and to stop collecting unnecessary waste.
I always try to use my reusable bags, but am human and sometimes forget to bring them with me. However, my husband and I made it a priority to not use plastic bags in 2021. On my latest shopping trip, I realized Delaware already took the initiative. See https://news.delaware.gov/2020/12/01/plastic-carryout-bag-ban-effective-on-jan-1-2021/
2. Get a reusable water bottle.
There is no doubt that single use plastics/products are certainly convenient. Eliminating these entirely out of your life is most likely unfeasible in the modern world. You're more than likely to forget to bring your reusable mug every time you want to buy a coffee. You're also more than likely to indulge in a soda every now and then. However, drinking out of plastic bottled water is again unnecessary.
Invest in a reusable water bottle. This will most likely cost significantly less in the long run than endless bottles of water will.
3. Don't just throw out your plastic bags - recycle and reuse them.
Now that we have all of these plastic bags at hand since we have begun to use reusable's, don't be the person to add onto that pile of bags off I-95. All of those bags most likely didn't get there because someone just chucked them - they probably flew away in the wind. To alleviate the issue of the ever-wandering-plastic-bag, purposely save and reuse these bags as many times as you can. You'd be surprised how often you can use them if you save them thoughtfully. I have a plastic bag holder attached to the inside of my cabinet under the kitchen sink. It is so simple and effective, and I reuse bags constantly.
If you don't use a shopping plastic bag as a liner to a small trash can, are you seriously buying rolls of tiny plastic bags? Rethink your approach. Reuse, reduce, recycle wherever possible.
Have you ever heard someone give you an excuse for why they don't recycle? I have. It usually goes something like this:
- It costs me more monthly.
- China is no longer accepting our recycling.
- It just gets thrown in a landfill, anyway.
- I don't know what is recyclable.
I would begin to look up recycling programs around where you live to determine if this is applicable to you. At the very least, in 2021 and moving forward: first, always make sure you at least use public recycling cans where at all possible; second, if you can't recycle, then do your very best to reduce and reuse.
These four habits are habits you can quickly begin to use yourself. I encourage everyone to use these practices in your daily lives, and to importantly, teach it to your children. It is quite simply a waste to not (pun intended).
Till Next Time.