March 7, 2018
Sustainability is crucial–it’s time we all get on board
Society has fortunately reached the point of recognizing that sustainability is crucial for our survival–perhaps we can thank the millennials for that, but it’s time for all of us get on board.
For years I’ve looked at potential purchases and thought “Where am I going to store that?” and “How soon before I just throw it away?”.
In reality, there is no “away”
We just can’t keep buying every new gizmo on the market and throwing the old one away. In the words of growNYC.org “In reality, there is no “away”. Our junk goes somewhere and it’s not always good.
Consider this staggering fact: residents of New York throw away 12,000 tons of waste every single day. New York has no landfills or incinerators so the non-recyclable garbage is either buried or shipped out of state and burned.
And it isn’t just New York. The United States has a whole produces 33% of the world’s solid waste and we only have 4.6% of the global population. Our track record for using the products we buy is horrendous–80% of them end up in the garbage after only one use. (OK, that’s fine for diapers–but not a lot of other stuff!)
We need to stop buying things we don’t really need and take care of what we already own.
Our water use must be sustainable
In addition to hard products, our use of water must remain sustainable. We all know that no new water is being produced, the entire world shares the same supply of water, there isn’t enough of it and we must clean and treat our water in a way that in turn doesn’t create more damage.
Many cities across the country are turning to Green Infrastructure (mother nature) as a method of managing and cleaning stormwater in a sustainable method. CurrentWater has published articles here on successes enjoyed in Seattle, Milwaukee and now New York.
There are many things we can do to help conserve and protect water. If your municipality allows it, disconnect your downspouts and install rainbarrels to collect rain water to use in your garden. You’ll save money by using a “free” supply of water and help your town by drawing less treated water from the municipal supply.
When you are replacing worn-out appliances (like dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, faucets) look for the EPA WaterSense label indicating water efficiency.
We can all help–and we must
Vote with your dollar by buying products from companies that are taking an active part in sustainability and have a mission to conserve, recycle and reduce waste. We are fortunate to be living in a time period where big and small industries are taking an active role in stewardship.
Anheuser-Busch calls their program “Water for a Better World”. Pepsico’s is PwP Planet Pillar which covers a wide array of sustainability issues, Vulcan Real Estate is the world’s first “Salmon-Safe” accredited developer (protecting salmon from construction pollution), and Levi Strauss has produced a Sustainability Guidebook which includes The Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines which must be followed by all of their contractors worldwide. I’ve only touched on a few here, and it is a movement which is growing.
Be thoughtful in your purchases–
If you don’t really need it, don’t buy it. Take care of what you own. If it lasts longer you’ll save money anyway. Buy “used”. Not only will you get a bargain but it’s another way to recycle. Vintage clothing can reveal some really fun funky styles. Used furniture, especially “casegoods” (dressers, cabinets, bookshelves–furniture made of hard materials) can be a really good value. The older products were often better quality than the new cheap stuff. Don’t “throw it away”–donate it (if it’s still in decent shape).
That new cell phone looks very appealing and does have a better camera–but, I think I should wait. Businesses want us to buy, buy, buy. I would suggest that we wait, wait, wait. But if you can’t, just choose your supplier carefully.
See you next time,
For facts on recycling from growNYC, click here
Anheuser-Busch “Water for a Better World”, click here
Pepsico “PwP Planet Pillar”, click here
Vulcan Real Estate, Salmon-Safe accredidation, click here
Levi Strauss Sustainability Guidebook, click here
Green Infrastructure in Seattle, click here
Green Infrastructure in New York, Part 1, click here
Green Infrastructure in Milwaukee, click here