Five Ways to be Green
This podcast was produced by Polk County Conservation and funded by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education program or REAP-CEP.
Hi, my name is Heidi Anderson. I am a naturalist with Polk County Conservation. My job is to educate people about our natural world and how we can become better stewards of the earth. So here are five easy things you can do to help save the earth.
Number one, eat and buy locally produced food. Did you know our food typically travels 1,500 miles from the farm to our plate? It takes 17 times more oil to transport non-local food compared to local food. You can buy locally grown food at farmers markets or from Community Supported Agriculture farms. Encourage your grocery store to buy foods from local farmers. This will help conserve resources and support area farmers. Plus, the food also tastes better!
Number two, don’t buy plastic water bottles. Drinking water is good for our health. Water bottles are convenient ways to drink water on the go. However plastic water bottles are not friendly to the earth. These bottles require 1.5 million barrels of oil each year to make. Only 12% of these bottles end of getting recycled. The rest end up in landfills.
Consider buying a sturdy reusable water bottle. Some research indicates certain types of plastic bottles can leach toxins into the water and be harmful to our health. Stay away from #7 hard clear plastic and instead choose lined aluminum, stainless steel, or glass bottles.
Number three, get rid of the junk mail! Yes, junk mail is annoying but it also uses valuable natural resources like trees, water, and energy. The average American receives 10.8 pieces of junk mail each week. Many of the biggest company mailers and magazines do not use recycled content in their paper.
To reduce your junk mail go to DirectMail.com and choose which types of mail you don’t want to receive. You can reduce the number of catalogs you receive by going to catalogchoice.org. Over 100 million trees are harvested to make junk mail every year. If everyone in the U.S. was able to reduce the amount of junk mail received, we could drastically reduce this number.
Number four, use reusable shopping bags. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic sacks are used in the U.S. each year. It takes 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees to produce plastic and paper bags each year. One of the problems with plastic bags is they don’t biodegrade, they photo degrade.
That means they break down into smaller and smaller bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest them. You can reduce the demand for plastic and paper shopping bags by taking reusable bags to the store. Many grocery stores are now selling reusable bags. There is also a large selection of reusable bags for sale on reusablebags.com.
Number five, pack a no waste lunch. According to the New York State Department of Conservation, parents who pack a child's lunch in disposable bags or containers generate 45 to 90 pounds of garbage every year. That equals to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.
Convenient prepackaged choices like Lunchables are terribly overpackaged and are unhealthy choices. These conveniences come at an environmental cost as our landfills clog up with plastic and our garbage incinerators continue to spew out hazardous emissions. Avoid using plastic baggies and cutlery, paper napkins, prepackaged food or juice boxes. Use reusable containers. Don’t forget, these tips apply to adults too when packing a lunch for work.
These five simple things can make a big difference. The health of our environment is a responsibility we all share. I’ll leave you with a quote from Margaret Meade, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has!"
This podcast was funded by REAP-CEP which is a program the State of Iowa invests in to enhance and protect the state's natural and cultural resources. REAP provides money for projects through state agency budgets or in the form of grants. For more information about REAP, visit www.iowareap.com