AN OPEN LETTER FROM MOTHER NATURE
You’ve likely heard of the three magic R’s; reduce, reuse and recycle, but perhaps are unsure of what their significances are or how to implement them. I’ve created some steps to help put things into perspective and get you started on launching them into action. Please appreciate and enjoy all that I have given you and reciprocate your love by taking care of me in return!
Reducing your waste load can have a massive impact on my environment. You may think that the actions of one person are pretty insignificant but you can think again! In 2014, the average European generated 475 kg of waste (1) and the average American 728 kg (2). Yes, in one year that was the average (some produced more) physical waste per person. Uncollected waste forms that too need to be significantly reduced are excessive water and electricity use - it is estimated that the average American uses 80-100 gallons (378 litres) a day (3)! These are commodities that aren’t an endless supply and often use non-renewable energy sources to produce them, so please use them sparingly.
● If you don’t really need it, don’t take it! Ditch plastic cups, straws and the wad of excess napkins. Don’t mindlessly use sheets of paper to scribble on or ask for receipts from places like ATM machines if you know you won’t look at them. Avoid the printer unless you really need to use it, most documents are now available online.
● Don’t waste water. Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth, don’t take long showers or overflush the toilet. Water is liquid gold and vital to all life forms, you wouldn’t throw treasure in the trash so don’t let precious water go to waste by leaving it to run.
● Don’t waste food! Despite food being decomposable, it is taking up massive amounts of landfill space and an increasingly long time to decompose due to artificial ingredients present in many foods such as preservatives. Not to mention, all that food should be in the bellies of some of the 800 million people who are severely famished in the world ). - Start with less and make more if you need rather than over plate-ing and throwing the excess. - Save leftover food in the fridge or freezer for another time. - Give excess food to people who need it like the homeless. - Don’t buy food unless you’re actually going to eat it… all of it. Plan your meals in advance and shop for less more frequently rather than buying more less often. This will save perishable goods (and your money) from going to waste. - Don’t immediately throw food when it reaches the expiry date printed on the label before checking it - many foods are perfectly fine and safe to consume for several days and sometimes weeks after the sell-by date. This is because companies want to protect their reputation so they print earlier sell by or use by dates than necessary (5). As long as you store your food correctly and perform a simple smell, look and taste check before you chuck, you’ll be good to go!
● Drive less! Walk more, ride a bike or at the very least carpool to cut down on fuel consumption and reduce air pollution.
● Turn off your lights and electricity - if you’re not in the room turn off the light. If something plugged into a socket isn’t currently being used, turn the socket off by the switch to disconnect circuit flow, otherwise, energy is still being wasted.
I could go on and on...
Adopting a habit of reusing will sure save you a lot of money and save me a lot of trash. Most items, unless it’s unhygienic to do so, are reusable several times if not infinitely before they need to be thrown.
● Clean and refill your plastic bottles and takeaway tubs several times before recycling them. If you can, avoid drinking from plastic bottles altogether as they are unhealthy for you. Instead, purchase a glass or thermos bottle you can continue to refill (6). ● Reuse glass jars and canisters as storage and pantry containers. ● Never throw your shopping bags if they’re in good condition! Reuse them every time you shop to stop from taking new ones or better yet make a one-off purchase of a strong, reusable shopping tote. Did you know 2 million plastic bags are used per minute (7 [take a look at this shocking infographic])? Places like the UK have already put a charge in place (5p) for every plastic bag given to deter people from taking what they don't need. But it’s
enough. The countries leading by example are the likes of Kenya and Ethiopia, who have banned plastic bags altogether. I can’t take any more forever-lasting plastic bags suffocating my oceans and ending up in the stomachs of animals! ● Reuse paper, magazines and newspapers for art projects, note taking, packing delicate items or even window cleaning (newspaper works wonders for this). ● Donate clothes, books and toys rather than dumping them. Someone else really needs them so head to your charity shop or personally hand out items that are clean and in good condition. Those in unfit condition can be recycled. ● Old furniture and broken dishes can be refurbished, upcycled and turned into new items.
Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. It has taken the world by storm, sweeping into the houses of most residents, mainly in the western hemisphere. Many have yet to join the movement though. Some countries, cities and towns still don’t have recycling systems in place to support the practice of recycling - however, there are other ways you can recycle if you live in one of these places. Sometimes even the people that do have the means to recycle think it’s ‘too much effort’ but if you have the knowledge and access to recycling systems then you have no excuse! Consider all the perfectly recyclable items sitting in a landfill and polluting my soil, that will last forever.
- Recycle all waste that can be processed at your local recycling centres. This often includes glass, paper, plastic, aluminium and cardboard. Some centres also recycle electrical items and batteries which always have to be disposed of carefully due to the chemicals they contain - never throw electrical goods in with regular garbage.
- Buy recycled goods and support eco-friendly businesses. Where there is demand there is action, so push for recycled goods over non-recycled goods.
You are now ready to embark on your green journey. It only takes a little bit of effort to make a huge difference and when we all do our part, our world is a much healthier, kinder, more beautiful place. Make sure to pass on the message!
With love, Mother Nature xo