Each year, we produce far more than we’re able to consume. In the U.S., nearly 17 million tons of clothing and other textiles were generated in 2017 alone—and, according to the EPA, more than 11 million tons ended up in a landfill that same year while a comparatively little amount, about 2.6 million tons, were recycled.
Instead of buying clothing or other products that are destined to be thrown out within a year or two, opt for items that are longer lasting. For example, the Right Pack backpack is made of durable cordura fabric and comes with a lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry about it ending up in a landfill.
Mend, Don’t Discard
Even durable items need upkeep. Invest in a sewing kit to fix minor rips and tears instead of throwing the item away. You can always cover up small holes with patches. Missing buttons and zippers can usually be replaced. If a piece of clothing doesn’t fit anymore, try getting it altered. (For example, most shoe repair shops can quickly punch a new hole in your belt if it’s grown too big or small). While you’re there, shoes can often be resoled or reheeled to last for years longer.
Reuse Again and Again
Around the world, about 210 billion single-use bottles of water are consumed each year, according to TAPP Water, whose biodegradable filters can be installed on sinks to create clean drinking water. Most of those bottles don’t get recycled, and even the ones that do still have a cost in terms of the energy and water needed to make plastic bottles in the first place.
Try buying reusable products instead of disposable or single-use items to cut down on unnecessary environmental waste. Water bottles are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Bring a flexible bag like the Hatchet Backpack when shopping, so you can skip the plastic bags. Carry your food in reusable containers and a durable lunch bag instead of wrapping it in plastic snack bags or tin foil. And invest in a travel mug for your coffee when you get it on-the-go.
Cook at Home
Ordering in can create a ton of waste, from the disposable packaging your food is kept in to the fuel used to bring you your meal. If you order take-out a few times a week, try replacing just one of those meals with a home-cooked one to cut down on the environmental costs. Another bonus? Studies show that home-cooked meals tend to be healthier and have fewer calories than meals eaten out, so you’re doing yourself and the environment a favor.
Walking, running, bicycling, skateboarding, rollerblading—these are all great ways to get around without using the fuel needed to drive a car. Instead of automatically hopping behind the steering wheel whenever you need to run a quick errand or go somewhere close by, challenge yourself to get there using manpower instead. Miss having a trunk or backseat to throw your stuff in? Get in the habit of always bringing a backpack with you so that you can carry whatever you pick up along the way.
Have a tip for how to help protect the environment? Share it with us by using #LifeUnzipped on social media.
By: Jessen O’Brien