“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” That’s the mantra we’ve been chanting since kindergarten, but in an age of consumerism where Forever 21 releases new clothing lines every three weeks and the average American spends over $20 on morning coffee each week, we’ve forgotten how to live responsibly. The two R’s missing from our recycling rhyme are – Repair and Repurpose.
Instead of throwing things out when they slow down or upgrading to faster technology, consider fixing your products to save it’s lifetime and some change. The other primary way to upgrade your eco-friendliness score is to repurpose items you have lying around the house; turn old jars into vases or storage for markers or use the case for those amazing pair of sunglasses you lost at the beach last summer to store your favorite organic tampons!
The United States, followed by Germany and then China, is the top producer of solid waste in the world, indicative of the global trend where developed countries (largely the Americas and Europe) are disproportionately creating waste and far outpacing rates of even their neighbors. The U.S. consumes 30% of the world’s resources despite making up only 5% of the world’s population and it produces 30% of the world’s waste. Low-income countries have a much higher proportion of organic waste, such as food scraps whereas we are drowning in plastic. Did you know New York recycles only a fifth of its garbage and trash haulers still find landfill more profitable than recycling?
Paper, on the other hand, is the single largest component of waste in high-income countries; in the United States, one person generates 705 pounds of paper waste each year. According to an EPA report on trash in the US, one-third of that paper waste comes from the corrugated cardboard boxes in which nearly everything we buy gets packaged and shipped. If all of these packages were recycled and every American switched to paperless banking statements, we could save enough money to send 17,000 high school graduates to college each year!
Some countries have assigned financial penalties to those who don’t recycle properly, especially for businesses, but often corruption can lead to inefficiencies even where policies are in place. In contrast, Sweden, has developed tax breaks and incentives for citizens who go beyond proper waste disposal. The result is less than 1% of waste ending up in landfills!
If these sad stats are hurting your heart as much as they’re hurting ours, this Earth Day, join us in learning ways to repair and repurpose.
Ways to Repair
If you’re not handy with tools, have no fear! There are tons of ways around that including instructional videos on YouTube, DIY tutorials on Pinterest, and websites like Angie’s List where you can search for contractors, repairmen or list a project that you need help with. Also, try sites like Groupon for discounts on fix-it services or repair shops in a nearby area.
Ways to Repurpose
This is where your creativity can earn you big bucks – there are literally dozens of ways to repurpose common household items that often end up as garbage in landfills, litter in oceans, and so on. Plastic cups can be turned into plant-holders; punch a few holes in the bottom for water drainage and fill with soil and seeds for a fun windowsill or kitchen pick-me-up. Washed jars can be used for storage (coins to spices) to drinking vessels (a la Mason); they can be upcycled and used to create lamps and chandeliers, and so on!
Clothes can be transformed into sofa cushion covers, lamp shades, and even made into stuffed animals! Amazon cardboard boxes can be turned into shoe storage racks, pet toy holders, shower caddies for toiletries or toilet paper; old luggage can be turned into side tables, foot stools, and even cabinets! Use your imagination and if you’re stuck, simply hit the Pinterest button. Old bicycle wheels can be used as a tie or scarf hanger, old stuffed animals can be donated to pet shelters, ex-lovers’ t-shirts can be torn into exercise strips, and even broken objects can be used in art.
Check back into our online store tomorrow, on the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, where we’ll be celebrating with a 25% one day flash sale on all of our organic and natural products. Then go through your trash to rescue some repurposables that can be used to store your tampons and pads. Send us ideas/ photos of your DIY projects so we can share them on our social media pages too!