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Protecting the Planet Starts at Home

By: Morgan Trout


With news of unstoppable wildfires and an ever increasing global temperature, it is no wonder more climate activists than ever are getting to work on solving these critical problems. Unfortunately, that still leaves many of us stuck at home wondering what more we could do to help, and that's where I come in.

Today I will share some of my favorite ways to reduce my waste at home and be more environmentally conscious in my day to day life.

Tip #1 - Compost & Recycle

This first tip seems obvious, but it is so easy to get confused by all of the changing rules in the recycling and composting systems. They also vary from city to city which doesn't help in knowing what is and isn't recyclable and compostable.

As for recycle in the city of Phoenix, plastic, glass, household metals, and paper are accepted. You need to make sure though that you rinse anything that is food soiled and do not recycle anything that is less that 2.5" in diameter. Bottle caps should be recycled screwed onto their bottle.

In Phoenix, yard waste is not taken to an industrial composting facility so they only accept yard trimmings, untreated wood, and tree fruit. If you would like to compost your food waste however, there are still many options. Tune in next week to learn 3 different ways to turn your food waste into fertilizer right at home! If that isn't something that you are interested in however, it is worth doing some research into which small farms near you are accepting food waste for compost.

Tip #2 - Purchase Responsibly

Purchasing responsibly to me looks like avoiding fast fashion, not over-consuming and shopping locally as often as possible.

Fast fashion is an industry that puts out new trendy clothes as quickly and as often as possible to keep up with the market. They keep production costs as low as possible and in doing so, exploit workers as well as the environment. Instead of contributing to this, try eco friendly boutiques and online shops. While the price may be a bit higher, that is just what it costs to pay people a living wage and use materials that are not harmful to the environment. If you want to save money, try thrift shopping!

Overconsumption is when we buy things we don't need in excess. Every time you go to buy something new, ask yourself, is this replacing something that I could just fix or repair instead? If it isn't something I need, is it something I will still be using in a year? Is this something that I could buy used instead? Offerup, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist are all great resources for new and sued goods and way better prices. Giving items a second life whenever possible is always better than buying new.

Shopping locally is another great way to support your community and benefit the planet. Buying produce from your farmers market helps your local farmers and avoids the emissions that come from transporting your fruits and veggies from all around the world. Eating at local restaurants and shopping at locally owned businesses can greatly reduce your impact and is an amazing way to help your community flourish.

Tip #3 - Eat less meat

Animal agriculture is a huge contributor of methane and nitrous oxide in our atmosphere and generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane is produced through cow digestion and nitrous oxide from manure fertilization. If you can avoid meat altogether, you would be doing a great service to the planet, but if not there is still one alternative. Getting meat from small local farms will still greatly reduce your impact as they use more sustainable techniques, travel less distance, and don't take up as much land. Shopping at your local butcher and trying out Meatless Monday is an awesome first step!

Tip #4 - Avoid toxic chemicals

Some cleaning products release dangerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds. VOCs can have damaging effects to both the environment and your health. From phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive issues in animals, to sodium lauryl sulfate, which is toxic to aquatic life, there are countless cleaning chemicals that have played a poor role in protecting the environment.

Using biodegradable cleaners, you will not only avoid those harsh chemicals that pose a threat to wildlife, but they are also often free of allergens, cruelty free, and use much less packaging than their toxic counterpart.

Tip #5 - Switch to LED

Compared to incandescent lights, LEDs consume 80% less energy! That's a lot! Saving energy means we also reduce air and water pollution and are able to conserve more of our planet's natural resources. LED lights are also so much more cost efficient because they will last up to 50 times longer than incandescent.

Start where you are

While it can be overwhelming thinking about all of the environmental issues currently going on in the world, starting where you are and doing what you can is the best thing we can do. Start small and don't beat yourself up for not using a mason jar instead of a trash can.

Tune in next week to learn about how you can start composting from home!

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