3 Steps to Becoming an Effortless Environmentalist this Earth Day

Posted On Friday, 13 April 2018
3 Steps to Becoming an Effortless Environmentalist this Earth Day

Remember those moonshot earth-friendly resolutions you made last Earth Day? How many did you keep up with?

Don’t feel bad; many of us are in the same boat. Turns out big changes are easier to make with many small changes –- changes that almost seem effortless. Because they are effortless, small changes are so much likelier to be kept!

Going green can be especially overwhelming. One of the biggest obstacles to improving environmental conditions is our daily habits.

However, if we can start by making a few minor shifts in our daily routines, it can add up to making a big difference.

Time for an Environmental Intervention

Why now? What’s changed? In a word: China.

As China pushes back strongly on accepting America’s trash for recycling, it’s time for an environmental intervention with ourselves because we are in imminent danger of drowning in our own trash.

At 1,609 pounds per person, per year, the United States is the number-one trash-producing country in the world. China used to process nearly one-third of the recyclable plastic in North America’s trash, but not anymore as its garbage ban is fully in effect as of January 1, 2018.

With waste becoming more difficult to ditch, embracing a zero-waste mentality has gone from “nice to do,” to absolutely must do. Time, money and confusion are often given as reasons why people fail to adopt a greener lifestyle, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take a ton of time to become an effortless environmentalist.

Read on for three ecofriendly trends that will be easy to adapt into your already hectic schedule and get you off to a good start in becoming an effortless environmentalist.

1) Ditch Jogging and Start Plogging

A Swedish fitness trend that’s not only gaining in popularity but also collecting unwanted waste is called plogging –- because as you jog you pick up litter as you run!

It’s no surprise that the Swedes developed this fitness movement. Their recycling policy is so efficient that the country is close to meeting its goal of being completely waste free and Sweden is consistently ranked number-one for green living worldwide.

Plogging is an active form of recycling. Strap on a bag and give yourself a goal of picking up 4-5 pounds of trash along your route, which is the amount the Environmental Protection Agency estimates the average American dumps each day. You’ll not only burn more calories, you'll also be taking an active step toward litter control. Search for the hashtag “plogging” on social media (#plogging) to connect with like-minded ploggers around the world.

2) Bag a Compostable Lunch

Packing a healthy lunch will be good for you, your pocket, and if you use compostable packaging, also good for the planet.

It’s a no-brainer that bagging your lunch can be healthier than eating out every day, but is all that extra packaging in your lunch bag healthier for the environment? From plastic zipper bags that keep food fresh, to little plastic straws in that juice box or plastic bottles for our water, and the food scraps that we just don’t have time to consume… all are most likely heading to landfill.

You can easily convert your entire family’s bagged lunches into compostable waste using innovative bags and snacks in packages that are certified compostable, as well as compostable paper straws and compostable containers –- and a stainless-steel water bottle for your drinks.

Look for the TIPA logo on the package so you know that it is compostable plastic. B.O.S.S raw functional superfood bars and Yogalyte electrolyte dietary supplements are some of the brands that are using compostable packaging and will make for great additions to your compostable lunch. Your food will stay fresh, and when lunchtime is over you can toss your entire lunch bag, food scraps and all, into the compost bin.

Unlike conventional plastics, compostable plastics will not add to plastic pollution, it returns to nature while adding nourishment to the soil.

3) Bring Your Own Bag

In the United States, we use 100 billion plastic bags every year. Plastic bags, which never fully break down and create litter, can clog storm drains and damage infrastructure on their way to become ocean pollution. Putting a stop to plastic bag pollution on a personal level is so simple to do it’s almost a no-brainer. Use a reusable bag whenever you go shopping!

Make sure to keep a couple of reusable bags in the trunk of your car so that they are always available when you go shopping. When you get home and have unpacked, make sure to put the bags back in the trunk for the next shopping trip!

Three small effortless steps to a successful Earth Day this year –- with a big payoff –- and you will be well on your way to becoming an effortless environmentalist.

Gail Barnes, PhD

Gail Barnes, PhD, is a technology and sustainability expert who has consulted with companies worldwide on product sustainability innovation with composting and recycling strategies, as well as navigating food safety and regulatory processes and procedures and advising on consumer insights and evolving trends. She began her career as a high school teacher, and her corporate career with Unilever in South Africa.

Barnes’ passion for sustainability and the environment has led to her work in several global environmental initiatives including the development of packaging to protect the nutritional value and taste of food. Her career has helped her gain insight on industry technology issues and consumer trends and education practices.

South African born and educated, Barnes is multilingual and has a Master of Science degree in biology and a Ph.D. in applied chemistry - food science from the University of Natal. She earned her master of business leadership from the School of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa. Barnes also volunteers for the U.S. Composting Council.

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