By Taylor Romanowski
It’s that time of year again. Time to leave the past behind and enter the future…the future of 2011 that is. 2010 is winding down and as we all get ready to enter a new year, the thoughts of resolutions are floating around in our minds. Our resolutions are to all live a little greener – have our air be a little cleaner, our trees a little greener, our planet a little healthier. If you don’t have a resolution set for this New Year, or even if you do, we have one for you! And that would be to join us and hop on the GREEN bandwagon; it’s the natural thing to do! To make your transition a little easier we came up with some easy ways YOU can start your new year off more green…
EASY GREEN STEP #1
Give back to the earth in the most natural way possible…recycle your Christmas tree once the holidays are over. Recycling your tree allows landfill space to be avoided. and then use that mulch to protect new growing plants and flowers. One plant lending a helping hand to another… genius.
How To Recycle Your Tree:
- No artificial or flocked trees allowed
- Do NOT place your tree in dumpsters or trash cans, trees should be placed at least 4 feet away from dumpsters and cans
- Check your city’s tree recycling policy to see if your tree qualifies for mulch giveaways
- Colorado Residents: to see your city’s tree recycle scheduleclick here
EASY GREEN STEP #2
Another way you can give back to nature… plant your food scraps. Whaaaatttt? That’s right, one more green investment for the New Year is to start composting. Composting is nature’s way of recycling and returning valuable organic matter and nutrients to the soil to be used again. Keep your organic materials out of the landfills and put them back in the ground – where they belong!
By composting, you can avoid climate-warming gases being generated by organic materials in landfills. As these materials decay without oxygen, methane is generated. Yes, methane – a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Ewww!!
In 2005, the U.S. “sent 25 million tons of food waste into landfills. The greenhouse gas impact of composting this mass would be the equivalent of removing 7.8 million passenger cars from the road.” Can you imagine that?! And all you have to do is scrape food scraps, leftovers and paper products into a composter and you’ve done your part in making our air cleaner and trees greener.
EASY GREEN STEP #3
We’ve all heard the saying “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” but how many people actually live by that motto? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “the United States leads the industrialized world in municipal solid waste generation: each person currently generates an average of 4.62 pounds of waste per day”. That’s almost 5 pounds per person every day! Fortunately, the act of recycling is an easy process that can protect and save our planet.
Taking materials that would otherwise become waste and turning them into valuable resources is an action that is being adopted by families and companies around the world. Recycling is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help save the environment. The EPA has stated that recycling has “diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000.” That’s some good news for Ms. Mother Nature and us!
Recycling saves energy, which saves the planet, which saves us. Did you know it takes 95% less energy to recycle an aluminum can then it does to make a new can? And to think that all you have to do is throw that one can in a separate bin and it makes that much of a difference. See, we told you it would be easy. Now it’s time to take action and make some green footprints…
- Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
- Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials.
- Recycling saves energy.
- Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
- Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
EASY GREEN STEP #4
Paper or Plastic?…How about Neither. You’ve all heard that age-old question and you’ve probably seen those eco-friendly reusable shopping bags popping up at your local grocery stores. And that is exactly what our Easy Green Step #4 is – scrap the use of plastic bags and start using reusable ones.
Experts estimate that “500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used and discarded annually worldwide.” We did the math, that’s more than a million plastic bags per minute! For those of you who thought plastic bags were biodegradable we’re sorry to inform you that you’re wrong. It takes 1,000 years for plastic bags to start to decompose in landfills and once they start to decompose, toxic chemicals are released into the soil and water, contaminating the growth of our plants, trees, and sea critters.
Plastic bags and our marine friends don't get along. Marine life unintentionally ingests, chokes, starves and suffocates from the consumption of plastic particles. Sadly, the result in almost all cases is death. Ingesting plastic causes a number of health effects for our little sea creatures. In 2002, plastic debris was found in almost 75% of dead Sea Turtles. If this doesn’t convince you to make the switch, maybe this statistic will… “An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to produce the plastic bags used in the US each year.” And that’s just the United States!
Fortunately, we have some good news – reusing just one bag in your daily life can “eliminate” the use of approximately 6 plastic bags every week. Saving 6 bags a week works out to 288 bags a year. If you adopt the use of reusable bags for your entire life you can “save” (reduce) the need for over 20,000 plastic bags! YOU have the power to help and rebuild our environment, oceans, marine life, and future. Reconsider your use of plastic products and next time you hear “paper or plastic” proudly state, "neither I brought my reusable bag."