According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people in the United States collectively generate 292.4 million tons of garbage every day. That’s 4.9 pounds per person every single day – and only about a third of it is recycled or composted. The sad truth is that many of the things we use and discard are difficult or impossible to recycle and are almost certainly destined to end up in landfills. Clearly, that’s an unsustainable situation. The only way to reduce the massive amount of waste that we all generate is by changing our habits, and enacting that change begins with making the commitment that you’re going to stop throwing so much stuff away. Here are some easy ways to do that.
Make Your Own Bottled Water
Here are two crazy facts about bottled water. Although the PET plastic bottles used for water are recyclable, most people don’t recycle them. About 80 percent of water bottles end up in landfills. The other incredible thing about bottled water is the enormous amount of fossil fuels required to create the bottles. In the United States alone, meeting the yearly demand for bottled water requires over 17 million barrels of oil.
There’s a good chance that you drink bottled water. Maybe it’s because of the convenience. Maybe you’re not happy with the quality of the municipal water where you live – or maybe you just drink bottled water because you prefer the flavor. The fact is, though, that buying bottled water isn’t doing the environment any favors. Instead of buying bottled water, try making your own by filtering your household water and storing it in a reusable water bottle.
If you don’t think that you enjoy the taste of filtered water, it’s only because you’re using the wrong filter. Remember; filtered municipal water is exactly what you’re getting when you buy most bottled water. The beverage companies aren’t doing anything that you can’t do yourself. If you prefer a plain-tasting water, buy a filter that removes all dissolved solids. Reverse-osmosis filters and ion-exchange filters are both popular options. You can even find water filters that add electrolytes for flavor.
Clean and Reuse Your Vape Coils
If you vape, you’re probably painfully aware of the waste you create because you have vivid memories of how much you threw away every day during your time as a smoker. All of those cigarette butts with their plastic filters – probably tens of thousands of them – ultimately ended up in landfills and will be slowly breaking down over the next several hundred years. You’d like to do better now that you vape, but it isn’t easy. You can recycle your e-liquid bottles, but good luck finding a recycler that wants your old vape coils.
Although it might be difficult to avoid throwing your vape coils away with your standard household trash, there is a way to drastically reduce the number of coils you discard. Instead of throwing your gunky coils away, clean and reuse them. With a device like the ROBO2020 automatic vape coil cleaner, you can remove the gunk from your dirty coils – and even dry them, preparing them for immediate use – in about a half hour. ROBO2020 makes it possible to reuse the same coil many times, dramatically reducing the volume of waste that you generate by vaping.
Buy a Reusable Coffee Cup
Here’s a crazy fact: Did you know that the coffee drinkers around the world collectively use 16 billion disposable coffee cups each year? Our love for coffee creates a serious strain on the environment. You’re not just throwing away a piece of paper when you discard a single-use coffee cup because the cup itself is lined with plastic. Most disposable coffee cups also have plastic lids. In addition to the landfill pollution caused by coffee cups, there’s also the energy cost; the energy used to produce those billions of coffee cups could instead have been used to power tens of thousands of homes.
The good news is that there’s no longer a need to use disposable coffee cups because all of the well-known coffee chains are now happy to serve your coffee in reusable cups instead. Using a reusable coffee cup doesn’t just have an environmental benefit; there’s also a good chance that it’ll make your coffee taste better. The low-quality plastic used to line disposable coffee cups could potentially interact with hot liquids on a molecular level, altering the flavor of your beverage in subtle ways. In addition, a reusable coffee cup will often have a vacuum wall to keep your beverage hot for hours. Disposable cups can’t compete with that feature.
Encourage Local Restaurants to Use Compostable Containers
In our effort to minimize unnecessary close contact with others, we’ve all embraced take-out and delivery food to a much greater extent over the past couple of years instead of eating in restaurant dining rooms. It’s important to do what you feel is necessary to protect your family’s health, of course, but take-out food does have an environmental impact when it’s served in plastic or foam containers. When you eat at a restaurant, you’re using dishes and tableware that will be washed and reused. Plastic containers and single-use cutlery, on the other hand, will almost certainly end up in a landfill.
One of the greatest trends that has developed in the world of convenient food over the past couple of years is that many restaurants are now serving their take-out meals in compostable containers. It’s entirely possible that the restaurants in your area are already using these types of containers because many states and cities have recently banned single-use plastic items – so look closely at the labels the next time you eat a take-out meal. You may discover that you can actually add the containers to your compost bin or take them to a local composting facility.
Compostable food containers do have their own problems. There have been some reports of contamination, for instance, with non-compostable plastic. Nevertheless, it seems pretty clear that compostable containers are better than the single-use alternatives, and they’ll only get better in the future. If your local restaurants aren’t using compostable containers yet, encourage them to make the switch because it looks like we’ll all be eating a lot of take-out food for the foreseeable future.