Week 2: Reduce (Part II)
As a follow-up on how to reduce in our daily lives, Part II will focus on our daily lives during the lunch hour. Here you will read the cold hard fact, along with an easy solution. Enjoy!
Fact 1: Plastic disposable utensils: Plastic cutlery is non-biodegradable, can leach toxic chemicals when handled improperly, and is widely used. Worldcentric.org estimates 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in just the United States. The majority of these are thrown out after just one use.
Solution: Don’t use the plastic one-time-use utensils. They may be convenient, but they’re not doing the environment any good. Instead, find ones that are biodegradable that you can compost after using or find a set that can be reused over and over again. Here is a large selection to choose from.
Fact 2: The Container Recycling Institute claims that 2.81 million juice boxes were sold in the U.S. in 2006, most of which cannot be recycled due to the inseparability of the cardboard, plastic, and aluminum foil used in the product. Also, an independent study done in June of 2010 by the Environmental Law Foundation found toxic levels of lead in more than 40 different juices and juice boxes.
Solution: Buying juice boxes is an easy solution to sending your kids something to drink in their lunch, but have you every really looking into what is in it? Sugar. So much sugar and after all of the processing that juice has been through, there are barley any nutrients left. Look into investing a juicer at home. You can make fresh juice (even add some vegetables without them knowing) and send it in a reusable container. Not only are you improving the environment, but you are also improving your families health. Win win.
Fact 3: Paper towels and tissues: 3,460,000 tons of tissues and paper towels wound up in landfills in 2008.
Solution: Stop using disposable napkins and paper towels. Instead opt for durable, washable cloth napkins that won’t wind up in a landfill. When it gets dirty, all you have to do is throw it in the wash and by the end of the cycle it’s like having a new napkin all over again! Also, if you need to use paper towels or napkins, find ones that are recycled or that can be composted after use. Also, do not use paper bags. A study on the life cycle of three types of disposable bags (single-use plastic, paper, and compostable plastic) showed that both compostable plastic and paper bags require more material per bag in the manufacturing process. This means “higher consumption of raw materials in the manufacture of the bags…[and] greater energy in bag manufacturing and greater fuel use in the transport of the finished product. …The added requirements of manufacturing energy and transport for the compostable and paper bag systems far exceed the raw material use in the standard plastic bag system.” (from a peer reviewed Boustead Consulting & Associates report). Find a bag you can keep reusing.
Fact 4: According to the EPA, Americans discarded about 2.7 million tons of aluminum, the largest source being used beverage and packaging containers. And in the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
Solution: Instead of using aluminum, send items in durable, long-lasting containers that will last years rather than disposable sandwich wraps, chip bags, fruit salad or pudding cups. Or, if you end up using foil for cooking, wash it off after using it and recycle it after you are done!
Fact 5: The average American school-age child throws away 67 pounds of lunch waste a year. With the population of kids in the US alone accounting for over 70 million, that’s over 4.6 billion pounds of waste that
could be easily avoided. (EPA). 65 percent of landfills are filled with organic Municipal Solid Waste like food, paper, cardboard, yard cliipings and recyclables, which can be reduced by simply bringing reusables and conserving. Methane is a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide and contributes to global warming.
Solution: Talk to your school about adding a yard waste / food compost program to the cafeteria. Not only will this cut down on how much food waste ends up in a land fill, but a program like this will also teach kids at a young age how easy it is to separate what is on their tray when they are done. Starting a good habit early on will only help future generations. Here is a great resource page on how to pack a more sustainable lunch: http://www.reuseit.com/take-action/campaigns/wfl-school.
All facts, statistics and some suggestions came from: http://www.reuseit.com/learn-more. Check out Reuse Its selection of high-quality reusable household items at the reuseit.com™ store and start making a difference!