In this class we have learned a lot about the environment and sustainability. We can all take information from this class and use it to rethink the choices that we make every day. For example, what can we do to lessen our personal global footprints? Global footprints can consist of how much waste we produce, how often we drive our cars and even how much water and electricity we use. If we gradually start to cut back on these things, it could really start to make a difference.
Humans produce a large amount of waste. According to National Geographic, each American citizen produces 4.6 pounds of waste per day on average. An alarming 55% of this waste is buried in landfills, only 33% of the waste gets recycled and the rest is sent to incinerators. It is important for us to start to be more aware of what things we should be throwing away and what things we should be recycling. Plastic bottles should always be recycled. If you are someone who drinks a lot of water and is guilty of purchasing cases of bottled water, it is time for you to consider investing in a reusable cup. I say “invest” because not only will you be helping the environment, but you will also be saving money since you will no longer be purchasing bottled water. Eventually the reusable cup you have purchased will have paid for itself. My favorite reusable bottle that I have is my Yeti Rambler. These keep your drink hot or cold for hours. For instance, I have had the same ice in mine since noon today. It is now 2:15am and the ice has still not completely melted. These are a little pricey. I was lucky enough to get mine on sale, but a lot of people tell me that the generic ones from Walmart work just as well.
Another way we can reduce our waste is to purchase reusable grocery bags. I just started doing this recently and it feels really good to not throw away five or six plastic bags every time I return from the grocery store. These reusable bags are inexpensive and come in a lot of different sizes. Even the ones that look small hold more than a regular grocery bag would. They are also more durable. Most grocery stores will sell reusable grocery bags near the register, or you could try to order them online. These bags usually cost less than one dollar and if you are a household of one, you probably only need one or two of these bags anyway, depending on what size you opt for. I really love my reusable bags due to their durability compared to the plastic ones. I also know that using these bags has greatly reduced the amount of plastic that I put into the landfill, so that feels great too.
It is really easy to go without driving your car here in Charleston. A lot of people bike here and pretty much everything is within biking distance when you live downtown. I usually do not drive unless I go to the grocery store or to somewhere like Mount Pleasant. However, where I am from, it is really difficult to go anywhere without driving. West Virginia is known for their mountains. I live on a mountain, and so does pretty much everyone else. Unless you live downtown. In this situation where it is impossible to avoid driving, I would suggest to carpool with your friends that are going to the same place as you or using services such as Uber.
Reducing water and electricity use are extremely easy. It is important to turn off all of your lights and electronics before leaving your home. Also, turning off electronics that you are not using when you are home. Taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth are ways that you can preserve water. Also, making sure that your faucets are turned all the way off without any drips.
It may seem hard to get a start on these things, but every decision that positively impacts the environment that each person makes can start to make a big difference in the long run.