August 25 2018
In this day and age, nothing of good quality comes at a decent price - even the future of the planet. Though the topic of environmentalism has moved to the forefront of conversation in recent years, it’s still incredibly difficult for the average person to lead a green lifestyle that’s both convenient and low-cost.
Sure, stores aiming to make sustainability easy exist. Take Package Free, for example, a “zero waste” shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The issue arises when actually looking through the prices of the ethically-sourced, eco-friendly products offered there. Why buy a $14 vegan lip balm from Package Free when there’s cheaper alternatives at the drugstore for a fraction of the price?
For those who are looking to go green but can’t justify such purchases, fret not. Though it may seem impossible to live sustainably without breaking the bank or completely changing lifestyles, there are steps that can be taken by almost anyone to help the environment.
The national rates of recycling are fairly low, according to the EPA. Even in New York City, where they’re working to send zero waste to landfills by 2030, Sims Municipal Recycling (the city’s main recycling plant) says that 80% of waste goes to landfill. A lot of this is due to people not wanting to deal with recycling.
Though it’s not necessarily the most convenient thing in the world, there’s monetary incentives in some states to recycle. For those living in one of these 10 states or Guam, it’s possible to get up to 15 cents for every recycled bottle, can, or other recyclable containers. Collect enough of these containers, and it’s possible to make a few bucks off of something as simple as recycling, while simultaneously helping the environment.
Additionally, make sure to recycle responsibly: don’t throw e-waste in with other recyclables. Only certain plants have the ability to recycle old electronics, and e-waste can start fires in plants not specially designed to handle such waste.
2: Go Thrifting.
Thrift shopping is more than that one song everybody listened to in 2012. It’s also a great way to buy cheap clothes while also cutting down on waste, considering that textiles make up over 6.1% of items in landfills. Instead of buying from fast fashion stores like Forever 21 that often use synthetic, non-biodegradable fibers in their clothing, purchase from second-hand shops that prevent old textiles from being thrown in the dump.
3: Take Mass Transit
Transportation accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., according to the Federal Transit Administration. Taking the subway or bus is much cleaner than driving in terms of emissions - in fact, subways emit about three-quarters less greenhouse gasses per passenger mile than cars, the Administration says . It’s also often cheaper to take mass transit, with the Federal Highway Administration reporting that it’s possible to save over $10,000 by using mass transit in some areas. Imagine how much pizza that could be bought with all that money. Spoiler alert: Iit’s a lot of pizza.
4: Stay optimistic.
A lot of the news surrounding the environment seems pretty bleak - the global temperature is rising, there’s a patch of garbage the size of Texas floating in the Pacific, and plastic might be poisoning the food chain. For many, it might feel like any attempts to fix these problems are futile - after all, how much of a difference can one person make? Despite this all-too-common thought, it’s still important to make these small changes. Get a reusable shopping bag. Buy a metal water bottle. Carpool. Even actions that seem as miniscule as this can have a big impact, especially when a lot of people do them.
While climate scientists look for a cure to our feverish planet and engineers rethink building designs to be more eco-friendly, take baby steps towards being more sustainable. The best part? You definitely don’t have to be a retired billionaire to do your part.
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