Maybe you’re feeling a little bit like the world is going all to hell around you, like I am this week. The earth is heating and the ice caps are melting and the polar bears are fucked because corporations get off scot-free (and our administration is working around the clock to make sure that they got off scot free-er) for polluting and emitting greenhouse gases and punching baby seals right in their little baby seal faces, all to make a little bit more profit, consequences be damned. It feels helpless and hopeless. But, we can’t just sit on our asses and eat non-free-trade chocolate ice cream out of non-recyclable containers with one-time use plastic spoons because we’re sad about it. We’ve got to stay vigilant and continue to give a damn, as exhausting as that may feel.
Towards that end, I feel strongly that making small personal choices that are eco-friendly can help you feel empowered and stave off the don’t-give- a-damns long enough to keep fighting the good fight. No, it’s not going to totally offset the level of environmental fuckery being perpetrated by your friendly neighborhood fracking operation, but we need to keep fighting this war on all fronts, and taking small steps is how you keep your head in the game while avoiding being part of the problem.
Here’s some tips rated from least to most pain in the ass that you can start implementing into your daily routine right away to help give our current baby-seal-hating administration the metaphorical finger.
This one is so crazy easy. You literally just take all of your kitchen scraps, dump them in a canister or a bag on your counter, and dump them in a pile outside. That’s literally it. I don’t even care if you use the compost or not—just keeping your organic waste out of landfills helps out, because kitchen waste trapped under mountains of plastic garbage turns into the greenhouse methane gas, while kitchen waste thrown in a pile in your yard creates some slightly better dirt and a squirrel buffet. I live in an apartment building, and I still compost in a tiny pile behind some shrubs. It doesn’t smell like anything.
2. Reduce your single-use items
Plastic spoons, extra napkins, plastic straws, paper towels, and coffee stirrers are items that will touch your mouth or hands for roughly forty seconds before being shuffled off to a landfill to remain for hundreds of years after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. Lots of this manufactured-to-be-garbage stuff is foisted on you by default if you eat out, but you can reduce your individual usage. Buy and carry a metal straw with you when you go out. Ask for your coffee “for here” in a ceramic mug when you order your coffee and intend to stick around in the coffee shop for a while. And, yes—bring the goddamn canvas bags to the store with you.
3. Eliminate recycling contamination
You already recycle, but did you know that there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong? If you throw something non-recyclable into your recycling, it screws up the whole system and turns the good recycling into trash. Google the name of your town + “recycling ordinances” and figure out which plastics your town can actually recycle. Make sure it’s all properly sorted, or you’re wasting a whole lot of effort. Don’t fall into environmental despair. Keep fighting with just a few small changes, and know that you’re making a concrete difference.