Saturday, January 12, 2019

Hello 2019: Solutions & Hope

There is another side to Squirrels-n-Sweets. A green side. With that said, 2018 was a tough year for us "tree-huggers" as we pleaded with the world to protect natural resources and the environment. It's easy to get demoralized, especially when it feels like no one cares. That's why it's important to go into 2019 remembering that people do care. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.

So please, if you care, show it. Here are a few of our home's solutions to keep pushing for a healthy planet and a happy self in the new year.

Did you know that doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces carbon pollution over the year by 24%?

There are some items that are best purchased new (e.g. sanitary and safety-code reasons). The majority, however, are just sitting out there seeking new purpose.

Action: Before hitting that, "add to cart" button - ask yourself some questions. Do you really need this item- will you still want/use it a year from now? Is this the best use of your hard earned money? How was this made and do I support those practices?
  • Second Hand Goods. My favorite place to shop has become Facebook Marketplace! We've used it to procure all sorts of things including a fireplace screen with tools, a pepper grinder, and a French Press.
  • Rent the Look. Companies like Stitch Fix provide rental fashion so you can swap out that cute skirt you'll probably never wear again. Le Tote even offers maternity clothing which is amazing for moms-to-be! 
  • Donate. Instead of chucking old stuff in the dumpster, try to give it new life with a few fixes or simply donate it to a charity organization. 

Every day in the United States, 50 million plastic bottles are landfilled. Talk about a lot of waste! Recycling is great and a good place to start, but it is not the answer.  Plastic only has a 9 percent recycle rate. That’s about to drop even lower because China has put a ban on plastic imports from the United States for recycling.

Action: This can be the hardest one but is the most important. Produce. Less. Waste. Here are some simple things that you can do to help reduce waste:
  • Stop using plastic straws. The Ocean will thank you. And yes - you need the Ocean.  Most (70%) of the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by marine plants. Don't kill the Ocean, bro. 
  • Reusable cups and bottles. We rock these hella cool cups for our weekly coffee dates and get all sorts of compliments. When those aren't around, we've used mason jars. Some stores are even giving a small discount for bringing a reusable cup, like Swings Coffee. Plastic water bottles are a big pet peeve of mine when it's so easy (and cheap) to use a refillable bottle.
  • Resuable Take Out Containers. Restaurants have loved this! They save a little money whenever we bring in our own containers. We place the order, make a stupid smile, and politely request they use what we brought. So far, so good!
  • Sustainable Parties. If you're having guests, you can wash and reuse those plastic cups/forks or simply go the extra mile with real serving ware. 
  • Bar Soap, Shampoo, and Conditioner. Ditch the excess plastic. Not going to lie - I still use bottled shampoo and conditioner because I have yet to meet a bar version that can handle my hair. 
  • Buy from Bulk Section. Some grocery stores have these magically sections where you can get your dried goods without the plastic container. We love Mom's Organic Grocery Market for their diverse selection and compostable bags. This is great for simple things like nuts, rice, oats, and dried fruit. 
  • Toys. Parents and family love their children - that doesn't mean you have to shower them in gifts that will hold their attention for a few weeks. Check out plastic-free children toys! Join or start a toy library with your friends. 
When you do recycle, please make sure you're recycling responsibly. When it doubt - throw it out! By including non-recyclable materials, entire batches can be contaminated and then tossed to the landfill. Check with your local recycling company as to what items they accept.

If every American replaced one meal of chicken per week with a vegan meal (i.e. salad with avocado, cranberries, and quinoa), the impact would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the roads. Also, people can save more water by not eating one steak than they can by not showering for six months.

"It's already there - so why not?" This was my mother's perspective on meat that comes from slaughter-houses. Her view surprised me as she is a person who was raised on a farm and swore off killing animals because it was too hard.

Action. Look. I'm not going to say, "go vegan! go vegetarian!" - that's a personal choice. What I will say is, if you can afford it and it's available, please consider the alternatives and be thoughtful about how you handle food waste.
  • Certified humane animal products. Enjoy animal products from animals who did not live a life in pain. Yes, they all end up in the "same place" but so do we. Don't let their journey suck. 
  • Meatless Mondays. The meat industry takes up a LOT of resources. Try adding more vegetables to your life and skip the carne, your health and the planet will benefit! 
  • Shop Local. If you can, support local farms. The food is fresher and doesn't require a jumbo jet to bring it to you.
  • Compost Food. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires landfills to block out air, moisture and sunlight – the crucial elements for proper biodegradation. That means biodegradables (like food) just sit there, unable to decompose for years. Yum! Start a community compost or check for compost services in your area. No such luck? We've gone rogue. We collect our compost in a compostable bag* and when it gets full, we march into the neighboring woods and bury it. Here's a list of 100 things you can compost 
*Compostable bags are NOT the same as biodegradable.

You know what gets me hot and bothered? The day my husband retired from his sneaker obsession because he realized it wasn't productive to the environment.

It should not cost more to obtain basic needs just because they were made via humanitarian standards - that's how incredibly low the bar has been set! As the consumers, we need to demand better.

Action.  The more people support higher-standard goods, the more accessible and available they will become. Invest your money with your a clear conscious.
  • Buy Sustainable. This will definitely put a hitch in your shopping giddyup! It takes a lot more work to find clothing and shoes that are responsibly sourced. We enjoy resources like BetterShoes, Amour Vert, Pact, Threadleaf, and Thought Clothing.
  • Renewable Energy. Though the technology still isn't perfect, it's important to support alternative solutions and reduce carbon emissions. Check out Arcadia Power as a simple way to get started. 
  • Boycott. Yes, I'm looking right at you - Canada Goose jackets. We know where that fur comes from and how you obtain it. I'm also looking at you, Palm oil industry. If something goes against your morals, don't give it your dollars. Check the ingredient list. Research how it was made and if you agree with it. 

No one cares. No one listens. Everyone has a short attention span. 

Action: Then unleash the kracken. Email your government representatives. Volunteer and/or donate to non-profits who align with your passions. Help others learn. And go easy on yourself. We're all doing our best and that gives me hope. Thank you!

♥ Sending hugs 

Going Zero Waste
Carbon Tracker Initiative