Really, the best thing that we can do for the planet
is to use less of it. At the heart of the environmental
crisis is our consumer society. Here are a few questions
you can ask before you buy: Do I, or the other person
I am buying this for, really need this? Is there another
product that would do the same thing but more sustainably?
Will this last a long time? Do I know how this item
was made, how it will be used and how it will be disposed
of? Where was this made and under what circumstances?
Are the materials used to make this renewable and have
they been harvested in a sustainable manner?
Regrettably, because we live in a “disposable
society,” we are encouraged to buy a new “improved”
item even if the one we have can be repaired. When we
buy, we should buy items that are durable, and we should
maintain them and have them repaired when necessary.
If we do this, many things can not only last a lifetime,
but can be passed along from generation to generation.
If something is truly unusable for its original purpose,
try to be creative and think of how else it might be
used. When you are done with it, think if someone else
might be able to use it.
Rather than throwing an item out when neither you nor
anyone else can make use of it, have it recycled. And
while recycling is not perfect — it requires energy
and the process of changing something into something else
often produces by-products — it is better than sending
goods to the landfill or having them incinerated.
Find out what types of materials can be recycled in your
area. Clean and sort the materials before putting them
out on the curb as often collectors will not pick up recycling
that is mixed or contains non-recyclables.