Less Is the New Green

Seeing is Believing
About eight years ago, I stumbled across Waste Land, a 2010 documentary about artist Vik Muniz’s journey to the world’s largest landfill in Brazil. In the film, Vik solicits landfill workers to help him create one of a kind art with recyclable materials sourced from the landfill. The art and the helpers eventually make it to the most respected auction house in London. Vik’s vision to create art from things nobody wanted with people nobody saw worth in reshaped how I viewed my consumerism habits and furthered my understanding of waste. What began as documentary to chronicle Vik’s creative process turned into a human narrative about empathy, compassion, and the gravity of waste.  

Out with the New
People are not only throwing away old things, but a lot of new things too. Books, food, and even human beings. Waste was no longer a mere action to discard unwanted things for me. It became a social issue worthy of my time and resources to take what was wrong about waste and make it right. Throughout the years, old things have become new to me and I’ve developed habits to think about how my purchases will impact our earth.

Recycling Is Not the Answer
I along with many people I know used to think recycling was the answer. As long as waste was sorted and placed in its proper recycling bin, it was green. Nope. Not so much. The recycling industry is a business and this means they have to make money. Demand is low for recyclable waste and the supply far exceeds what people are willing to pay for it.

“The U.S. exports about one-third of its recycling, and nearly half goes to China. For decades, China has used recyclables from around the world to supply its manufacturing boom. But this summer it declared that this “foreign waste” includes too many other non-recyclable materials that are “dirty,” even “hazardous.” In a filing with the World Trade Organization the country listed 24 kinds of solid wastes it would ban “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.” www.NPR.com. (2017). Recycling chaos in the U.S. as china bans ‘foreign waste’ Retrieved 1/8/19 from https://www.npr.org/2017/12/09/568797388/recycling-chaos-in-u-s-as-china-bans-foreign-waste

You Are the Answer
Here are 3 things you can do today to help our earth.

  1. Use what you have. Buying eco-friendly comes second only to not buying at all. Repair what you already own. This could be clothes, shoes, furniture, electronics, and more.
  2. Eliminate as much plastic as possible. Beyond not using plastic straws, always carry a reusable bag, a water bottle or a hybrid cold and hot mug. Bring your own cloth bags to shop for produce and buy just what you need from the bulk section.
  3. Commitment to sharing your green ideas with 3 or more people this year.

If you need a little help to reduce your plastic consumption. Sign up today for a greenUp box! Receive 10% off your first box when you subscribe to their e-news. FYI, I don’t receive anything from greenUp, but strongly believe in their work. 



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