Most of the decisions we make in our daily lives have a major impact on the planet. The average amount of municipal waste, generated by a person in the European Union (EU) in 2020, was 487 kg. Find out how you can make small eco-friendly changes to your routine, which will have a lasting effect on the environment.
1. Use reusable (cloth) bags
Although they are trying to convince us that biodegradable and paper bags are harmless, the truth is different. For example, a paper bag is equivalent to 3-4 plastic bags by the amount of emissions and resources consumed. On the other hand, biodegradable bags decompose in 180 days exclusively under compost conditions in carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds and biomass. Therefore, the use of biodegradable polymer bags only makes sense if compliance with these conditions will be organized in public areas with a system for collecting organic waste for composting or at home. So, the best solution is to use cloth bags. Even so, nowadays, an ecological cotton bag justifies its production only after 200 uses (due to the high ecological production costs).
2. Use reusable (water) bottles
Reusable water bottles are more environmentally friendly, and if you are one of those who take care of nature, you should definitely use such a container to the detriment of plastic ones. Water is vital for health, and the habit of carrying a bottle wherever you go is extremely healthy. If you take your own water with you, you will also reduce the chances of buying more expensive drinks on the go. Most importantly, this will eliminate disposable containers. Keep in mind that although most boxes and bottles can be recycled, they require a lot of energy to be produced, shipped to the bottling plant and then to the store for purchase.
Did you know that up to 25% of items in the trash could be removed from the waste stream and composted in the backyard? Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, grass clippings and leaves can all be composted. While composting requires more effort than the lifestyle changes mentioned above, it will give you a beneficial return on your investment of time and effort. Depending on the conditions, you may have compost in 3 to 12 months to use in your garden. You will save fertilizer and, if you grow your own vegetables, you will probably see improved crops. Organic matter will also act as a sponge to absorb more water, which means you may not need to water your plants as much, saving money and time.
4. Learn to repair rather than throw away.
When was the last time you repaired a broken or damaged item, instead of throwing it away to buy a new one? Don’t you remember? Likewise. But buying a few high-quality items and repairing them when needed is a much more beneficial option for the planet than buying cheap, disposable items. The next time a lamp stops working, spend a few minutes to see if it can be repaired, rather than throwing it in the trash and buying a new one.
5. Reduce food waste
Did you know that about ⅓ of the world’s food for human consumption each year (about 1.3 billion tons) is lost or wasted? Lost or wasted food contributes to climate change, with a global carbon footprint of about 8% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. It is a waste of limited resources, such as land, energy and water throughout the life cycle of products. For every kilogram of food produced, 4.5 kg of CO2 are released into the atmosphere. So, before you put your food in the trash, ask yourself if you really should throw away that product. Get in the habit of writing down the expiration dates of food in the refrigerator and planning your meals accordingly. If the food spoils, compost it! Composting turns organic waste into nutrient-rich soil.