Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day we thought we would share some tips on how to become a "greener" consumer. Here's what you can do:

At a coffee shop -- Many of us stop at a coffee shop on the way into work to get a jumpstart to the day. But what happens to that Styrofoam or waxed paper cup that housed the coffee you just purchased? Bring an insulated cup or thermos with a lid next time, and ask your barista to fill it up instead of a disposable cup. Even if the cup is recyclable, it’s still a resource that has to be produced and then recycled. So, bring your own cup and drink up!

At a Winery -- Wineries are a big part of the culture around the world, and they bring tourists and locals, alike. Whether you are in Australia or the Finger Lakes region of New York there are little things that you can do on your next trip to help limit the amount of waste being produced and still enjoy yourself. Some wineries provide samples of their wine in small plastic containers with labeled lids, and if you’re at one of them, ask if you can be served the wines in a wine glass, instead.

At the bookstore -- Buy your textbooks used -- if you are in Ithaca, NY stop by The Bookery for a used book. Acquaint yourself with IthacaFreecycle, where Ithacans give away their unneeded property or ask for something they need. The options are fantastic! You will find similar stores and organizations around the country. Check Craigslist or other swap sites to see if they have what you are looking for!

At the grocery store -- Stick to the outer edge of the grocery store where products are healthy, fresh, and full of delicious flavor. Many of us already bring our own bags to take home our groceries, but still put our fresh veggies in plastic bags. Use your reusable bags for that, too! Spend some time at the deli counter instead of buying the pre-packaged or frozen meats and cheeses. If you’re in a hurry, grab products in packaging that you can re-use! A package of turkey in a plastic container means that you can re-use the plastic container to pack a lunch or store leftovers instead of buying fancy container products. Then, if that container has held a few too many macaroni and cheese leftovers, you can throw it in your recycling bin instead of the trash.

For the products you need in the center of the grocery store, check to see that the packaging is recyclable, or if it came from recycled materials. Many packaging products can first become excellent kid’s crafts and can then be recycled when your child outgrows them. If your household buys pop (soda) or juice often, try choosing 2 liter or quart bottles instead of individual servings. You can reuse these jugs for water, lemonade, or iced tea instead of purchasing a pitcher, and then recycle them. You can also fill ¾ of the bottle with water and freeze instead of using a store-bought ice pack. If you already have 20 ounce bottles, fill them with water and take them to the gym! Then, after multiple reuses, recycle them as well. And your health concerns regarding reuse of plastic bottles leading to the breakdown of the plastics into carcinogens? Both the American Cancer Society and researchers like Dr. Rolf Halden of Johns Hopkins say this is untrue. So, reuse away!!!
Finally, those plastic bags your food is placed in at the checkout line can be recycled, too. Check and see if your grocery store has a bin for clean and dry bags.

We hope these tips help you be a little greener today and everyday. Happy Earthday!

-BK & TS

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