by Jody Tyler
Is it easy? Not as easy as it should be. Is it convenient? It’s not convenient.
Is it worth it? You betcha. Once you begin to appreciate the environment around you, you start to notice many new things. Life tends to teach you more about how to take care of the things you love, and now the earth is added to that list of things.
It’s hard to unlearn and it’s hard to un-see. Some of the things that you notice are garbage on the side of the road, in a restaurant the server bringing you a styrofoam to-go container, finding yourself taking another route so you don’t have to smell the landfill close by. You notice when someone has a single use plastic water bottle or a plastic bag, knowing they were supposed to be outlawed, the overflowing garbage toters by the side of the road.
You also notice when you go to an event and they serve in compostable glasses, or when you have the choice to put your toss-away in a recycle or compostable bin, and the neighbor that only puts out a recycle bin for pick-up.
You find that you seek out the new product made from plant based materials, and those that have a home in biodegradable packaging, and you continue to look for that brand. These types of things become very important to you…and so, you are on your way to going green.
It’s a rewarding journey and you find yourself diving deep into what it’s really like to live a zero-waste life. In our society, it seems to be a lofty goal rather than a way of life. I am proud to say that I have only tossed away a couple bags of garbage in a couple years in my home. They mostly consisted of styrofoam containers that I accidentally purchased as packaging. My recycle bin, though, is often full. That would be perfect if I knew that the recyclables were to actually be recycled, and that plastic didn’t have a half-life.
Somehow more and more plastic is finding its way to the ocean...it’s best to avoid single use plastics as much as you can, for the health of you and the environment. My home is full of glass bottles, homemade cleaning supplies with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils and peroxide. Most of the ingredient’s containers were made of plastic though, so I continually search for alternatives to the plastic packaging. Local stores like Marilla’s Mindful Solutions in Geneva make it easy to limit the purchase of items contained in plastic.
Some tips I have found that I love to pass on:
Don’t toss away your batteries! Please don’t! You can purchase a recycle bin on a website called Battery Recyclers of America that comes with a container to recycle the batteries in, prepaid postage to the recycle center, and a recycling certificate. If we choose to use batteries, I believe we need to take responsibility that they will be recycled. You can visit them at www.batteryrecyclersofamerica.com. I purchase a container almost yearly and I am happy to let my friends and family know to pass the old batteries on to me! More recycling options can by found on County websites, like the Ontario County Recycles website.
I would think it’s safe to assume that most of the odor from a landfill comes from food that could be composted. The methane that you smell is the gas that comes from rotting food. Why not turn it into healthy soil for our land instead? I have a small bucket in my kitchen that stores food waste until I venture a few roads over to the local compost pile. I am so fortunate to have a friend that owns the business and I can drop my compost off for free. There is a business on the West side of Seneca Lake called Finger Lakes Compost that actually comes to you! You can visit their website to see their pick-up schedules, prices, and a bit of inspiration! The EPA has a page devoted to composting basics https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home if you choose to try it in your own backyard!
Most grocery stores offer a plastic bag recycling bin near the entryway. Any clean and dry plastic bags can be recycled there. Think candy wrappers, pet food packaging, bread bags, saran wrap, zip lock bags, baggies and cereal bags. I save them in a special bag and put them in my car when it’s full to take them into the grocery store when it’s convenient.
Going green starts with small steps; it doesn't happen overnight. Be proud of yourself when making small commitments and be sure to tell your friends, family, children, and grandchildren of your “going-green” accomplishments.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Lorax