“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendall Berry
Happy Earth Day!
A few years ago Earth Day meant nothing to me, it was simply just another one of those holidays that nobody seemed to really care about. It wasn’t until I worked at my college’s Campus Garden/Farm in 2015 that I really started to understand more about taking care of the environment. At the Liberty University Morris Campus Farm I learned about the lost art of sustainable gardening/farming, I learned about the importance of honey bees and the roll they play in nature, I learned about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and chemical weed killers, I learned to compost, and I became more aware of how much plastic we all use and how important it is to recycle.
Everybody knows that it’s good to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, but how many people actually practice this? It pains me to see people throwing away recyclables everyday like plastic food containers, paper, cardboard, and glass bottles. I understand that some people may not have close access to recycling, but most do. In all honesty, I think most recyclables are thrown away out of sheer laziness. It’s not hard to get a couple of extra bins to place in the kitchen next to your trash can so that you can recycle paper and plastic.
Growing up, my family never recycled and I always told myself that when I got married and had a place of my own I would recycle. My grandmother recycles and she has been a great example for me. She doesn’t have a compost bin, but she does take her fruit and veggie scraps, as well as her coffee grounds, and puts them outside under her bushes for “fertilizer”. Not only does this cut back on trash and what goes to a landfill, it also provides plants with some extra nourishment.
Littering is another thing that I can’t believe people still do. We all know it’s bad for the environment, and who wants that junk laying around the streets or in parks anyway?! But, many people will still toss cigarette butts out their car windows, leave beer caps and plastics bottle lying around, etc.
This year one of my goals has been to waste less and recycle more. I started following some Instagrammers last year who try and lead a zero waste lifestyle and that really inspired me to do better about the products that I buy and what I consume. Do you ever stop and think about how much of the foods we buy come in packages that can’t be recycled? Chips, Granola bars, meats, cheeses, and even fruits and veggies. Sad isn’t it? One way to cut back on waste from packaging is to buy whole fruits and veggies instead of pre-diced or canned ones.
While I’m definitely not living a zero waste lifestyle, I’ve come such a long way and am so much more aware of the waste I create now. I’m trying my very best to cut out plastic wherever I can, stop wasting food, and recycle everything that I can. Here are a few ways that Brendan and I have worked on cutting back on waste this year:
- We have recycling bins for both plastic and paper/card board in our apartment. We also recycle glass bottles, cans, and plastic grocery bags. I know some cities don’t recycle glass bottles, but our city recycling accepts glass bottles and I am so thankful for that. And Kroger has a special bin where you can return and recycle your plastic grocery bags, so I take the few we end up getting there.
- We make sure we recycle everything we can from every room in our apartment. Anything from cans, plastic food containers, glass bottles, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, empty floss containers, shampoo and soap bottles, tissue boxes, etc. I feel like most people neglect the bathroom when it comes to recycling and that’s something that needs to change.
- Sadly since we live in the city we don’t have access to well water. So instead of buying bottled water, we use a Brita pitcher that filters our water.
- I love coffee. A lot! So I unfortunately end up with a lot of Starbucks paper and plastic cups. None of the Starbucks in my area have recycling in store, so I always make sure I bring my cups back home with me so that I know they get recycled. To some this may seem like a pain, but it’s an extra step I am willing to take to cut back on waste.
- Since last year I have been making my own deodorant and storing it in a glass jar instead of buying it from the store.
- We started using reusable shopping bags when we get our groceries.
- I use glass jars and stainless steal straws for my water, smoothies, juices, and teas.
I definitely have a lot of room for improvement, but I’m happy with how far I’ve come and how I continue to strive toward creating less waste and taking care of the environment. Here are a few things that I would like to do in order to better take care of the environment:
- Start carrying a usable glass or stainless steal cup for when I get coffee (I already use glass bottles for my water, juices, smoothies, and teas).
- Make my own homemade toothpaste, face scrubs, lip balms, and lotions.
- Start an apartment compost worm bin to cut back on food scrap waste.
- Start buying foods from the bulk section at the local Co-op.
Happy Earth Day everyone!