Make Less Trash
We live in a global infrastructure that is linear. In a linear economy, we take finite resources from the planet, turn them into something, consume it, and then dump it. Built into this infrastructure is poor design and planned obsolescence. If you’ve bought something that broke not too long after or was made to be used only once, you can suspect that there was planned obsolescence behind it. With over 7 billion people on the planet and growing, this way of production and consumption is not sustainable. The average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash per day! That’s about 102 tons of trash per lifetime!
One of the biggest setbacks I've seen from the years teaching environmental conservation to the public is the guilt individuals feel for not being able "to do it all" when it comes to environmental protection. Or the often overwhelming feeling of
"What difference is it going to make if I do something for the environment anyway?"
I want to change this conversation. I think we need to take a step back and see things in a different light and approach environmental conservation from a place of attention (mindfulness), practicality, and compassion. We need a new attitude when it comes to how we relate to the environment.
We are not taught how to be still or bring attention to the relationships between ourselves and the biosphere and thus we've created a culture that is disconnected from where things come from, who makes them, where they go, and the impacts our daily actions have on communities and the resources we all share and depend on.
What can we do right now to drastically eliminate waste? Many of the solutions to prevent and reduce waste are methods humans used before single-use disposables. They are not "new", they were a part of many indigenous cultures and communities of color for generations. We can use a low-waste mindset to navigate around a fast-paced, distracted, and disposable culture. It’s not about being perfect in our endeavors, it’s truly about putting value back into what use and how we use things.
Refuse single-use disposables. This is anything you use once and toss. When we move from a disposable lifestyle to a reusable lifestyle, we put value and meaning back into our belongings and we disengage from a disposable society.
Bring your own reusable and durable coffee/beverage cup! You can use a sturdy glass canning jar with a koozie for hot and cold beverages, thermos, or a regular an old pickle jar! Many coffee establishments will even offer you a discount for bringing your own cup too!
Bring your own reusable cloth bag for both groceries and produce. You can find many options here.
Refuse! Ask for no straw when you order your drinks at establishments (you may still get a straw, but at least you tried!).
Rethink and simplify your consumer wants and needs. What really provides you value? What do you really use?
Share! Sharing communities are popping up all around the U.S. and the world. From transportation sharing to household tools and instruments. Check your local community for tool libraries, car and bike sharing programs!
Visit your local thrift stores for gently used household goods and clothing.
Learn to make simple household cleaners from inexpensive ingredients.
Support your community and use your voice! Take a closer look at your community; know what is available. From hard to recycle drop-off centers, composting opportunities, community gardens, sharing programs, and farmers markets - our communities can become a wealth of support. If there is not much available - start something! Give businesses incentives to make positive changes. Use social media to share your concern (kindly), start a petition, and demand products be designed and manufactured with zero waste in mind.
Take ownership! Put value back into the things you own by taking ownership of your belongings.
Repair or mend your possessions before tossing and rebuying.
If an item is beyond repair, ask yourself if the item can be repurposed into another application (example: old t-shirts into reusables tissues).
Responsibly dispose or recycle items that are fully expired.
With simplicity we become less overwhelmed by stuff. Let go of items you no longer use or need. Learn your true wants and needs. Here are a few questions to help us edit what we don’t need and to help us from unnecessary purchases:
Questions to ask…
Why do I need this?
How will I use this?
Can I do without it?
Is this item repairable?
Will it last?
Is it beautiful? Is it inspiring?
Does this item provide real value to me?
Sustainability: A History By Jeremy L. Caradonna
Recycling Reconsidered: The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States by Samantha MacBride
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Book by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability-Designing for Abundance Paperback - Michael Braungart and William McDonough
EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want -By Frances Moore Lappé
Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash Kindle Edition by Edward Humes
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature - By Janine M. Benyus
Biomimicry in Organizations - Business management inspire by nature - By Fausto Tazzi, Clnzia De Rossi, Meaghan Toohey
Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States by Carl A. Zimring
The Global Business Environment: Challenges and Responsibilities 4th ed. 2017 Edition by Janet Morrison
Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility by Dorceta Taylor
Faces of Environmental Racism: Confronting Issues of Global Justice (Studies in Social, Political, and Legal Philosophy) by Laura Westra and Bill Lawson
Design For Repair by Derrick Mead
The Waste Makers by Vance Packard, Bill McKibben
Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash Book by Elizabeth Royte
Waste and Want Book by Susan Strasser
Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal Book by Tristram Stuart
The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Book by Paul Connett
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Joyful Militancy Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times by Nick Montgomery and carla bergman
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield
The Sexual Politics of Meat A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory by Carol J. Adams
Veganism in an Oppressive World A Vegans of Color Community Project Edited by Julia Feliz Brueck
There is so much good going on in the world! Here's a list of organizations, blogs, individuals, and communities working for the environment, for equality and justice, and the betterment of animal and human compassion. This list is updated every few months and is curated based on my own interaction or collaboration.
Blogs & Instagrams