Empowering Hope & Healing Through Education
Empowering Hope & Healing Through Education
Every decision we make has a consequence. When we choose to eat fruit and vegetables instead of foods filled with sugar and additives, the consequence that occurs as a result of these actions, ultimately leads to a healthier you! There have been several studies of our overuse of plastic bags and paper and plastic food packaging, as well as the impact that these actions are having on our entire planet. Even households with a low-income can make small changes that ultimately lead to bigger positive consequences for the environment. In this article I will show how you can reduce waste and your environmental impact in a way that benefits you in a cost-efficient manner.
Have you considered the impact the packaging your food comes in has on our ecosystem? In helping you to better understand why this change is so beneficial for our ecosystem, and your personal health, I want to start by pointing out some important facts. In a 2008 press release by the National Research Defense Council, Eric Goldstein who is the Urban Program Co-Director stated that “The average American family takes home 1,500 shopping bags per year”. A big part of making this change is being mindful of the number of plastic bags you use as well as recycling any if you do use them. In our home, we use roughly 144 plastic shopping bags per year. We do this by simply putting our groceries back loosely in the cart or by asking for paper bags, which we re-use later on. Eventually, using something such as cheese cloth bag to store fruit and veggies is ideal; being selective of what fruits and vegetables really need a bag can also cut down your plastic bag usage. The second fact I want to mention is that “at least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of plastic marine debris,” according to the Worldwatch Institute. A profound image from National Geographic caught my attention the other day while on Instagram. It was of a white bird wrapped in a plastic produce bag. This is just one devastating example of the impact our waste has on our ecosystem, and why I feel this change is so important for not just our family, but other families as well. Recycling is already extremely prevalent in our household and now, we are going to be able to reuse even more of the things we are already purchasing and help ourselves become even more conscientious of how our choices effect our environment.
Finding ways to help reduce our environmental impact and improve personal health, is why choosing to reduce the amount of waste we put out, as well as reusing and recycling the things that we can is so important. The Environmental Protection Agency launched a program in the 1970’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, to help get the community involved in making a conscious effort to reduce our individual environmental impact. Their website is filled with helpful tips in making changes in your life to help with this effort, and where I was able to draw ideas from. Ultimately, I decided the best way to make the transition from plastic to glass was to try and fulfill each of the 3 steps of this program.
The first step was to reduce the waste we were already producing. By limiting the number of plastic bags, we utilized for fruits and vegetables, as well as only requesting a bag when we had lots of very small items, we immediately cut our plastic grocery bag usage down from 12 bags per month to 6. Another technique we picked up that also lead us into the next step in this program, was requesting paper grocery bags instead of plastic grocery bags, which we later reuse for storing items that we recycle through our local waste management company. This allows us to take the paper grocery bag and the recycled materials and send them all out for recycling. The last step is recycling and we fulfilled this by not only getting an account to have our local waste management collect and recycle acceptable materials, but when we are out in public and notice recycle bins, we make a conscious effort to recycle any acceptable items we may have with us. We are fortunate to live in an area where most public spaces are equipped with garbage, recycle, and sometimes even compost bins. Ultimately, utilizing every step of this program was key in taking steps to reduce our family’s impact on the environment through our food storage.
Conscious food storage is another piece of change we have made that has reduced our impact on our ecosystem. Glass jars not only are a cost efficient, reusable solution for storing food but, plastic containers have the potential of leeching bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates, two plasticizers, into our food. Buying glass jars outright in the store can be rather expensive, so we began consciously choosing things like spaghetti sauce, and pickles which come in glass jars, so we could reuse them later. Another great place to find reusable jars is by searching or placing an add in your local buy nothing group. Buy Nothing, a hyper-local gift economy, was started in Bainbridge Washington in 2013 and has become a worldwide movement that is so large it has groups in 30 nations. These groups can be a great place to search for someone in your area who may have glass jars to gift to you, free of charge. Glass containers are just another way to not only decrease your family’s risk of being exposed to potentially harmful plasticizers, but to reduce the impact your family is having on the environment
Small changes, such as using fewer plastic bags, and storing your food more consciously, not only helps the environment but ultimately, it helps your family become more conscious of the effect our actions have on every aspect of life.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Program
"The average american family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shoppings bag a year."
2008 Press Release by Eric Goldstein
"At least 267 different species are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, and plastics and other synthetic materials cause the most problems for marine animals and birds."
Produced by Eye on Earth
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