The average American generates about 2,072 pounds of trash per year. And in total, America produces 254 million tons of trash per year. We only recycle about a third of that trash. And on a global scale, humanity produces 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage per year. (Titlemax).
Where does all this garbage go? Landfills and the world’s oceans. Many reports estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. (One Green Planet)
Obviously the problem of pollution must ultimately be solved by world governments. But as world governments increasingly fail to do what needs to be done, it is up to us as individuals to try and do our part.
Some people are making an effort to adopt what is called a “zero waste lifestyle” in order to reduce their personal carbon footprint. And some people are so good at it that they only generate one mason jar of garbage per year.
People who adopt a zero waste lifestyle have given up on plastic and other disposable amenities in favor of anything re-usable. Many people are familiar with the practice of using re-usable bags at the grocery store, or bringing a mug to Starbucks instead of getting a disposable cup. But zero waste folk go even further than that, going as far to even do re-usable diapers, re-usable feminine products and re-usable toilet paper. It may sound icky, but it’s not impossible, and doesn’t even have to be unsanitary when done right.
Here are some tips below from One Green Planet:
1) Get rid of disposables in your kitchen.
- Replace paper towels with reusable rags.
- Pack to-go meals with reusable sandwich bags.
- Use Non-Disposable or biodegradable dinnerware.
- Always bring your own shopping bags.
- Earth friendly sponges.
2) Buy in bulk
- Bring mason jars to the grocery store to hold bulk items or foods from the deli counter.
- Consider buying bulk castile soap to use as hand and dish cleaner instead of buying a bunch of little bottles of different cleaners.
3) Eat your leftovers
- Forty percent of all food goes to waste in the U.S.
4) Shop second hand
- Carbon Trust estimates that CO2 emissions associated with clothing account for three percent of global emissions. This number includes out-sourced production, shipping, washing, and drying. Shopping second hand saves good clothing from a landfill and reduces the overall demand for clothing production.
5) Take care of clothes
- Buying fewer items of higher quality will save you money in the long run and make it more likely you will take the time to mend rips and tears instead of throwing it out.
6) Bring your lunch
- Disposable lunches (to-go packaging, plastic utensils, etc) generate 100 pounds of trash per person annually.
7) Go digital
- The average office worker uses two pounds of paper per day! Take notes on your laptop and communicate with your colleague’s via e-mail rather than using paper.
- Unless your office has gone completely paper-less, chances are there are stacks of paper that could be recycled. While reusable water bottles are the BEST option, any plastic water bottles should be recycled as well.
9) Simplify cleaning supplies
- White Vinegar and baking soda are all natural alternatives to dangerous chemical cleaners. They are versatile, effective, and eliminate plastic bottle waste.
10) Make your own cosmetics
- Save money, avoid harsh chemicals, plastic containers, and packaging by making your own cosmetics. Check out Free People’s blog for instructions on how to make your own natural cheek and lip stains, perfume, shampoo, make-up remover, and more. Also be sure to check out OGP’s very own DIY beauty guides right here.
First of all, what needs to be understood in the conversation about climate destruction is that this has the more grievous consequences for the survival of the human race itself. It’s not just the polar bears. It’s not just the ice caps. It’s the future of the human race.
Now whatever happens, nature will survive. In the Earth’s 4.5 billion years of existence, nature has endured 5 major mass extinctions that destroyed most of the life on the planet (at least 60%), and nature will survive humanity, even if it takes a couple hundred thousand or million years for nature to get back on track. However, it is not certain that humanity itself will survive.
Today, mankind is presiding over what scientists are unanimously describing as a sixth major mass extinction event.
According to the Living Planet Report put out in 2014 by the World Wildlife Fund, humans have killed up to half of the wildlife on the planet in the last 40 years (World Wildlife Fund). And according to the Living Planet Report put out in 2016, this level of decline could increase to two-thirds by 2020. And now a recent study 2018 has said that humans have killed off 83% of wild mammals.
What is also terrifying is that the Permian Extinction (the most deadly extinction event on Earth) may have been caused by circumstances similar to the causes of global warming today. A team of researchers from Canada, Italy, Germany and the US say they have discovered what caused the Permian Extinction. According to a paper published in the journal Palaeoworld, volcanic eruptions pumped large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, causing average temperatures to rise by eight to 11°C. This melted vast amounts of methane that had been trapped in the permafrost and sea floor, causing temperatures to soar even further to levels lethal to most life on land and in the oceans.
Professor Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, has said, “If there were a large methane release, which is now possible because of the instability of the methane hydrates underneath the Arctic continental shelves, the off-shore waters, that could quite easily give rise to a very large [methane] pulse.” He was one of the authors of a paper in the journal Nature, which suggested it was possible for a truly vast amount of frozen methane to be released over just 10 years – a blink of an eye in geological terms, which could theoretically lead to similar events that caused the Permian Extinction (Independent).
So this is the key issue we face today. This should be a political focus, a spiritual focus, and a psychological focus of all our current endeavors. Doing what we can to stop this destruction before it is too late.
METAL GAIA ARTICLES
Humans Are Paving the Way for a Sixth Major Mass Extinction (World Future Fund)
Sixth mass extinction: The era of ‘biological annihilation’ (CNN, 7-11-17)
Study: We’ve wiped out half the world’s wildlife since 1970 (VOX, 9-30-14)
Are We in the Midst Of a Sixth Mass Extinction? (New York Times, 6-1-12)
Extinction Threat, A Call to World Leaders at Rio Earth Summit: (CNN World News, 6-20-12)
According to the article above: 41% of amphibians, 25% of mammals, 13% of birds, 30% of conifers and 20% of all plants are all threatened with extinction.
One in Five Mammals Threatened With Extinction (Common Dreams, 11-3-09)
The survival of 17,921 species is in jeopardy.
Almost 50% Of The World’s Primates Are In Danger Of Extinction (CNN, 8-5-08)
Habitat destruction as well as hunting are the greatest threats to primates today.