By reducing the amount of our individual consumption we can directly control how our lifestyle impacts the environment. Every consumer makes two important choices that affect the amount of waste generated:
1. What products we choose to buy or use AND
2. How we choose to dispose of the product when finished with it
Before making a purchase, first decide if you really need it; then look at all the choices available and consider the following:
- Which product has the least packaging?
- Is the packaging recycled or recyclable?
- What percentage of the product is made from recycled materials?
- Was the product produced humanely?
- Will the product affect the environment negatively?
- Are there other products that affect the environment less?
- If you need the product, choose the one meeting most of the above criteria.
Here are some simple guidelines that can help in making good purchasing decisions.
Purchasing recycled products also helps create a market for the recycled material, thus “completing the loop.” Consumer demand is a powerful factor affecting the waste stream, and our decisions make a huge difference.
Another area of reduction we all must address is our personal energy consumption. Building a new home that is passive solar and highly energy efficient is paramount to the reduction of energy use globally. Utilizing “green” building practices and materials in new construction is more viable than ever before. Incorporating energy efficient lighting, xeriscaping, solar collectors and/or electricity generating windmills into new home construction should become a global standard in appropriate climates or buy Green-e certified electricity. Retrofitting existing homes with these clean energy producers and resource saving techniques is desirable, viable and, in most cases, affordable.
One other way to reduce environmental impact is to purchase your food locally whenever possible and to buy organic or part organic products. Organic farming and gardening with compost sustains the planet while most commercial farming practices degrade the environment. Additionally the transportation of food over long distances is compounding the negative impact on the Earth, increasing the importance of buying locally or regionally produced food when possible.