Trash is Trashy: How to Reduce Your Waste

You know what’s gross? Garbage. Pollution? Pathetic. Litter? Literally the worst. Everybody knows that all the cool kids recycle, environmentalism is hot, and sustainable living never goes out of style. Reduce your waste while staying on top of current trends with these hip tips.

Are you a tastemaker who loves fresh veggies? One of this season’s hottest accessories is a green thumb. Get a jump on your home garden by starting a compost pile. 

The USDA estimates that thirty to forty percent of the food supply in the United States is wasted.

Food loss occurs for many reasons, with some types of loss—such as spoilage—occurring at every stage of the production and supply chain. Between the farm gate and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras (USDA).

Instead of throwing out your extras like a sucker, throw them into a compost pile and let that dank decomposition do its thing. Mother Nature herself is the OG recycler. After a while you’ll have a stash of fertilizer you can use to juice up a home garden.

To start a heap… pile six to eight inches of brown materials (carbon like leaves, dead grass, or dry newspaper) on a wood pallet or on the ground, and then add a couple inches of green material (nitrogen, found in fruit and vegetable scraps or chicken manure). Top it off with a layer of finished compost or garden soil to inject active soil microbes. Repeat the process until the materials are used up—or it gets too large—and mix it all together (Siddler).

Crunchy veggies straight from the garden make for phenomenal salads and other healthy meals, also you can share extras with your friends. They’ll be so jealous of your bounty, don't be surprised when they start their own garden next season. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and you should encourage it.

Are you a style icon, someone who’s a little more Project Runway than HGTV? For your next wardrobe update try staying away from fast fashion and visit your local thrift store for bargain deals on fabulous fits. The fashion industry produces an obscene amount of waste.

Much modern clothing is not made to last. Due to super-fast production, designs are generally not well stress-tested before sale, and cheap synthetic fabrics are used in order to keep costs low. Much of it will end up in landfill after only being worn a handful of times… The industry produces an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste annually, much of which is burnt or finds its way to landfill, while less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new garments. Some of this waste consists of items that never even reached the consumer – clothing lines that have become outdated and so are destroyed instead of sold. (Crumbie)

Um, could you imagine being responsible for that amount of garbage? Embarrassing. Instead of buying new, mass-produced, plastic-filled clothes from a mega-corporation that dumps heaps of trash into Chilean deserts, why not visit your local Goodwill for your next fashion fix? CPL has a whole host of tips to make your next thrift trip both sustainable and stylish. As spring cleaning season heats up, think about donating those old threads that have been languishing in your closet. The cycle of reuse works best when the whole community gets involved.

Are you an innovative entrepreneur who has made their fortune drilling for oil or other nonrenewable energy sources? Try pivoting away from fossil fuels and investing in green energy infrastructure like solar and wind. The Climate Accountability Institute recently published a report that demonstrated only twenty oil, gas, and coal companies are responsible for 35% of all global emissions since 1965. Yuck.

Global emissions of industrial (fossil fuel and cement) carbon dioxide have totaled 1,336 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (GtCO2) since the industrial revolution, of which half has been emitted since 1984 — a decade after scientists first built computer models demonstrating that greenhouse gases would cause global warming. Industrial CO2 emissions continued to accelerate even after the UNFCCC was established and have risen 50.3 percent since 1992. (CAI)

According to Pew Research, “Most Americans (77%) say it’s more important for the United States to develop alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, than to produce more coal, oil and other fossil fuels,” (Desilver). Solar panels and wind turbines are going to be the hot pieces of infrastructure in the 2020s. Don’t get caught holding on to cheugy pipelines, update your business now or get left behind.

As always, our librarians are available to help you stay stylish and contemporary. Don’t miss out on the latest sustainability trends—visit the library to learn more about composting, home gardening, climate change, and more.

References and Further Reading

AFP. (2021, November 8). Fast fashion’s disastrous effect on Chilean environment. Fashion United. https://fashionunited.uk/news/fashion/fast-fashion-s-disastrous-effect-on-chilean-environment/2021110859063

Climate Accountability Institute Rationale. (2019). Climate Accountability Institute. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from, https://climateaccountability.org/rationale.html

Crumbie, A. (2021, October 5). What is fast fashion and why is it a problem? Ethical Consumer. https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/fashion-clothing/what-fast-fashion-why-it-problem

Desilver, D. (2020, January 15). Renewable energy is growing fast in the U.S., but fossil fuels still dominate. Pew Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/01/15/renewable-energy-is-growing-fast-in-the-u-s-but-fossil-fuels-still-dominate/

Food waste facts. (2022). U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from, https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs

Sidder, A. (2016, September 9). The green, brown, and beautiful history of compost. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/compost--a-history-in-green-and-brown 

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