I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but you’ve all heard how important recycling is and how severe our climate issues are right now.
But, the steps taken are not enough.
Every year, over 360 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide and almost 14 million tons of that end up in the ocean, according to Ann Colson in her book Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: A Beginner’s Guide to Reducing Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions. On top of that, one piece of plastic can take 450 years to decompose.
We have become too lazy and addicted to convenience. We are surrounded by single-use plastics that we only use for a couple of hours. We’ve been negligent for too long and I’m sorry to say that we can’t recycle our way out of this.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the biggest contributors to pollution are major companies that don’t enforce regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. What you do still matters and will affect the world around you. Every single thing you throw into the trash ends up in someone’s environment — someone’s home.
Knowing this, the journey to reduce our carbon footprint can seem very daunting. While we can continue to try to evoke large-scale political change, there are some easy, at-home ways you can make a difference.
Many young adults, including myself, have struggled with the weight of environmental guilt for a long time. But, I have taken steps to live a zero-waste lifestyle.
What cities are doing to decrease waste production is opening up “refilleries,” which are shops where you bring your own containers and fill them up with their products, like cleaning supplies, facial products and hair products.
This is a great step toward a better future. If you live around the Tampa area, there are two options for “refilleries.” The Refillery is located at 7490 30th Ave. North Suite B in St. Pete, and Tampa’s newest edition, Lufka, is located at 4222 N. Florida Ave.
There are plenty of DIY recipes for making household products online that can be made from recycled materials. Some of them will help you save money in the long run.
You can find body wash at the local Ybor City Saturday market. There is one booth called Soap Handmade by Jeanie that makes handmade vegan soaps with no plastic packaging upon request.
While there are recipes on how to make your own, there are actually companies, like the popular cosmetics company Lush that are creating shampoo and conditioner bars without packaging. Deodorant bars are becoming widely produced as well. A good place to find them for a bargain is on the online shop Etsy.
Another easy way to directly reduce your plastic output is to bring your own bags or containers. This means bringing your tote bags to the grocery store and bringing refillable cups to restaurants.
Going plastic-free can be easy if you have the right help.
Relationships are a two-way street. Let’s start giving back to the Earth before she dumps us.
Summer Hampton is a senior majoring in communications.