Buy as little plastic as possible. Corn plastic, which is a biodedegradable substance, is now being used for everything from travel mugs to ball point pens. Every time you buy something made out of plastic, think about the 2,000 years it will take that item to biodegrade.
Buy local. There are so many reasons to do this. When you stop at a local farm market for corn or peaches, chances are that produce was very recently picked, retaining valuable nutrients (not to mention flavor). Not only does the food taste better, it is better for you. In addition, the fossil fuels used to transport that product from Florida to Ohio, for example, are almost non-existent when you buy local.
Go to the library. I love books and usually have at least two, if not three, going at the same time. I have purchased hardcover books that I want in my personal library. But novels and business books of interest can be picked up at any library. Libraries are wonderful resources – and oh so cost-effective! Most have story hours, craft times, book clubs for all ages and a host of other activities.
Shop at used clothing stores. Because children outgrow clothes so quickly, it doesn’t make sense to buy them a new outfit every time the sleeves are too short or the jeans have a rip. Most of the clothes you can purchase in department store are imported, adding to the environmental waste created to transport them to this country. Adults, too, benefit from this practice – and many people find the “thrill” of a great bargain at a used clothing store addicting! Plus, you can simplify your own wardrobe by taking your used clothing to the same stores where you shop.
Look for recycled sport equipment. If your child has ever signed up for hockey or track, you know how much the equipment can cost! Be kind to your budget, and find a local used sporting goods store, or just place a small classified ad in your local paper. Chances are, you can pick up a gently used baseball uniform, knee pads or soccer ball at a fraction of the price of a new one. (Hint: This goes for musical instruments, too!)
Use recyclable bags. Did you know that well over one billion plastic bags are given out free each day? But nothing, as the old adage goes, is really free. The actual costs paid by our environment and society for the fleeting convenience of unlimited, free, single-use plastic bags is astonishingly high. Not only does it take massive amounts of fossil fuels to produce the bags, they take over 1,000 years to biodegrade. Sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food. Turtles think the bags are jellyfish, their primary food source. Once swallowed, plastic bags choke animals or block their intestines, leading to an agonizing death. On land, many cows, goats and other animals suffer a similar fate when they eat plastic bags while foraging for food. Because they are so lightweight, the bags can become airborne, causing unsightly litter in trees.
White is right. If you typically purchase paper towels, napkins and toilet paper decorated with pretty designs, think about switching to plain white. Today’s technology is producing chlorine-free, soft and absorbent paper towels made from recycled paper. The ink used to print the designs on paper is often petroleum-based. By purchasing white paper products, you can reduce our independence on fossil fuels.