I remember uncovering treefrogs from folds of outdoor cushions, wet with morning fog. Their long legs ending in flattened thumbs; they croaked like a bullhorn at night. They’ve been long gone for years, along with the summer fog and winter rains.
Climate defines our identity in the landscape we have grown accustomed to. The plants, animals, bacteria and fungi are changing before our eyes.
My generation was raised believing everything was at our disposal. We thought we would always have plenty – and we did! We have lived better than queens and pashas of empires foretold. But unfortunately, we were and are still wasteful in our opulence, and this waste contributes to the demise of our planet.
Our conspicuous consumption burns fossil fuels, cuts down trees and pollutes our air and water.
The old saying “waste not, want not,” first coined in 1576, means “willful waste makes woeful want,” and it’s particularly relevant today. Wasteful behavior is a monumental contributor to our climate crisis.
Personal changes we make can have a big impact, and they’re the easiest to tackle.
Plastic Must Go
In the first decade of this century, we’ve created more plastic than all the plastic in history up to the year 2000. It’s not going away anytime soon. According to the EPA, “every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”
Their chemicals are present in mothers’ milk and the fat of our bodies. Bees take micro-plastics home on their wings.
Everything we buy is strapped and wrapped, secured with battalions of plastic. It’s a bugger to bust into; it cuts your skin. It’s ubiquitous and unsustainable for the planet.
Who ordained that everything must be enshrined in a petrochemically derived vessel?
Don’t wrap or carry food in plastic bags. Most stores now offer an alternative to plastic bags in the form of canvas bags. Keep them handy in your car.
Buy sustainably made reusable utensils, cups and storage containers.
Quaff your water from a metal bottle, bring your own lidded cup to the coffee shop.
You can easily reduce the amount of waste you cause by using something such as the De’Longhi ECP3420 in your own kitchen in a reusable cup-to-go. Ditch the coffee pods unless you’re committed to recycling them, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Our oceans team with billions of pounds of plastic swirling in convergences that cover 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. Think about that when you reach for that plastic bottle.
Reduce Energy Waste at Home
The bulk of energy we use at home heats or cools us – and it’s only going to get hotter and colder as the chaos ensues. Investing in a “smart thermostat” will help.
The rest is consumed by “energy vampires,” such as televisions, appliances, and electronics that literally suck power when we walk away. According to the EPA, the total electricity consumed annually by idle electronics equals the annual output of 12 power plants. Turn off your gadgets at night and stop the bloodletting.
You can’t turn off your refrigerator or even your TV, but you can replace them with energy-efficient options, which may even come with a rebate.
It has been found that an LED TV can use between thirty and seventy percent less energy than a plasma or LCD.
The Center for Sustainable Energy is a great source of energy-saving advice.
Food is Precious
The intersection of food and climate change is real and daunting. Food will become dearer as heatwaves, floods and freezes alter how and where we grow it. Wasting a precious commodity like food is a travesty.
According to UN’s Food and Ag Organization, 14 percent of food is lost between harvest and retail. Food waste is a major loss of resources, including water, land, energy, labor, and capital. In addition, food production adds to our greenhouse gas emissions that fuel our climate crisis.
Don’t buy more than you can eat, make leftovers your friend, understand expiration and best-by dates. Grow your own food, even if it’s herbs and tomatoes in pots.
Most waste management services provide bins for organic materials like food. Sending it off with your weekly bin collection isn’t your only option though, you could think about starting your own compost bin to use for your home plants and garden.
I’ve mentioned before I have worms – they live in a bin called the “Wiggle Inn” and happily turn my food scraps into beautiful castings.
Do the research and buy food from companies committed to reducing food waste.
These three areas of focus are simple ways to help reduce our footprint. They won’t bring back my frogs, but it can make a big impact if everyone joins in.
What are you doing to reduce your consumption and waste fewer resources?