“People say I’m extravagant because I want to be surrounded by beauty. But tell me, who wants to be surrounded by garbage?” – Imelda Marcos
Happy April beautiful people. Spring is here, even though it doesn’t feel like it in Delaware (come on mother nature – quit playin’)! This morning I spent a few hours cleaning out the fridge and decluttering the living room. It felt oh so good to throw out and recycle a bunch of crap that we never use. But, as good as it felt, it also made me realize how much waste we actually produce. There are only 2 of us in the house (not counting the pup) and it is pretty crazy to see how much trash 2 people can acquire (2 clean, environmentally conscious people mind you). So, that got me thinking about garbage which has inspired today’s post and this month’s challenge. Can we reduce the amount of waste we produce each week? Can YOU?
What the hell have we done?
Here are some mind-boggling facts for you.
- According to the EPA, humans have consumed more resources in the last 50 years than any other period in history.
- Did you know that your junk mail alone creates over 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year? That’s right – all of those fliers, advertisements, paper bills, insurance offers etc. are contributing to the problem. If you are like us, you see those papers and immediately throw them away. Well, it turns out that the average household receives 848 pieces of junk mail each year. Maybe we need to be more mindful about how we dispose of all of that paper!
- In 2005, the U.S alone landfilled 144 billion beverage containers; 54 billion aluminum cans, 52 billion plastic bottles, and 30 billion glass bottles.
- In the U.S, we waste 30-40% of our food supply. That means that each person wastes around 20 lbs of food every month. Where does this uneaten food end up? Landfills. Why is that bad? Aside from the fact that hunger is a global epidemic, landfill waste releases a significant amount of methane into the air.
- More than 3 million children under the age of 5 die every year due to pollution and other environmental factors (Conserve Energy Future, 2017).
- More than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year (Plastic Oceans Foundation, 2016).
Every week, Mr. GGC and I throw away rotten vegetables, stale bread, wilted lettuce, expired milk and fruits that contain too many bruises for our liking. This is concerning when you read about facts such as this one:
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that nearly 50 million Americans, including 16 million children, are food insecure.”
In addition to food, we throw out mail, coffee cups from Dunkin and WaWa, tons of paper at work because we don’t have easy access to recycling, little plastic lunch bags, plastic wrap, plastic water bottles…the list goes on and on. This year, we have worked very hard to recycle more, however there are many times when we throw something away without giving it a second thought. I’m sure each of you can relate to this. I’d say its about time we make a change.
This month, our goal is to track how much waste we produce in 1 week. We will make a running list of everything that we throw away in our home, including food, paper, and plastic products. We will then set a goal to reduce the amount of food that we throw away, to recycle more (even when it is not convenient) and to find creative ways to reuse and repurpose our “trash”.
Why are we so wasteful as a society? With the technology, knowledge and resources that we have access to today, we should be doing more to conserve, preserve and restore our environment. We use so many resources such as water and energy to grow food and create products, only to throw 25-40% of it away.
So let me ask you this: What do you think Mr. GGC and I should do to make a difference? What types of challenges would you like to see us take on this month to reduce our wasteful ways? Share your thoughts with us.
Until next time.
-The Going Green Couple