Sunday, 30 January 2011

Confessions of a Wannabe Eco Warrior: Part Two

As a mother to three gorgeous children, the way I look at the world has changed somewhat. As I’ve explained before, I’ve always been concerned about world and environmental issues, but now it’s not just about the world that I live in, it’s the world that my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in. More to the point, will there be a world left for them?

In my attempts to live a greener, more environmentally aware everyday life I don’t always succeed, I am not a perfectly green person but I am doing the best I can. I guess what I’m trying to say is just do what you can; whatever you do, it is one more person doing one more thing and all those one things add up. This is not a wishy washy philosophy, there is power in numbers and I really believe that. It does still mean of course that I have to get up off my chair and do something.

Here in the UK, the buzz phrase for reducing waste is REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE.

How can I REDUCE?

• The landfills in the world can’t take much more, so humans are dumping rubbish in the bottom of the sea. Nice. Reduce the rubbish you produce! You can choose to buy food with less packaging. Ideally buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than ready packed. Better still, bring along your own cloth bags to put them in as you go round the market.
• Every day, families throw away food. Mountains of the stuff. The simple answer here is to buy less and use what we have more efficiently. Make up the weeks menu, buy only what you need and stick to it. Less consumer buying means less demand means less manufacturing. In principle.

How can I RE-USE?

• Buy second hand – charity stores aren’t grim, they are opportunities to save the planet! Not only that but hopefully the proceeds are going to a good cause (more on this later). Also remember to donate unwanted clothes to charity so that they can be re-used too and not added to landfill sites. Ask the shops if they are currently accepting clothes/books/toys though… if not, then try another shop, otherwise it may still get chucked.
• If clothes really are past it, tear them up for washing up rags for the car or use them in pet beds. Pretty fabrics could be cut up for patchwork or reworked into a new garment if you’re that way inclined.
• Donate toys to toddler groups and churches.
• Re-use plastic carrier bags – ideally as shopping bags but also as waste paper bin liners at home. When you throw the filled bag away though with the main household waste, don’t tie it up, allow it to spill into the main bag, this gives it a better chance of breaking down.

Time to RECYCLE?

This part is frustratingly area dependent. For example where I live, the local council will collect glass, tin cans, some plastics, and paper. The council in the next district will collect green waste and cardboard as well. I am prepared to travel a bit to take my cardboard to the amenity tip but I know I am in the minority; not that people don’t WANT to recycle particularly, it’s simply one more thing to fit into an already busy week. Try to integrate a fortnightly or weekly trip to the recycling centre into a trip elsewhere. Every bag recycled is a bag less in the landfills, polluting the earth with leaching chemicals and atmosphere with released gasses. Separate your waste at home and get the children involved.

Can you compost? You can now get quite small ones if you have a small garden, or as my Grandfather does, dig the food waste directly into the ground on a rotation basis.

Look out for Part Three – More things to do to reduce our impact on the world.

Part One :
Part Three :

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