A: Being green has multiple meanings. Each individual chooses how one wish to save the environment. For some that is simply turning off the water when brushing their teeth and or buying energy efficient appliances. For others it means altering their daily lives by eating organic produce, carpooling/biking/taking mass transportation to work to reduce their carbon footprint, and changing their consumer habits so they are more conscience of the waste they produce. Being green is about levels of commitment. The Earth can only benefit from whatever effort you are willing to invest in order to save the environment. Therefore, it is up to you to determine what you can do in order to have a positive impact on the world. Remember everything adds up, and if everyone made a little effort to help, we could all live in a better place!
Q: What are the three R’s?
A: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Reduce means simply cutting down or getting rid of excess materials that you could live without. For example, reducing the amount of paper towels you use to dry your hands or reducing the amount of clothes you continuously buy for your wardrobe. Reuse means to take items you already have and use them again. For example, reuse a refillable water bottle instead of having to buy bottled water every day. Recycling is simply taking materials, such as glass, plastic, or aluminum, and putting them through a process that breaks them down and rebuilds them again. That way Earth’s limited natural resources are not used up as quickly.
Q: I noticed on bottom of my plastic container there is a little number with a recycling sign around it. What does that mean?
A: 1. (PETE) Polyethylene Terephthalate – The most common and easiest of the plastics to recycle. Ex: water bottles
2. (HDPE) High Density Polyethylene – The second most common and easiest of the plastic to recycle. Ex: milk containers, hair care product bottles
3. (PVC) Polyvinyl Chloride – Difficult to recycling. Found in toys, pipes, bottle caps
4. (LDPE) Low-density Polyethylene – Melted down to create more the same items. Ex: sandwich bags, plastic wrap, grocery bags
5. (PP) Polypropylene – Recycled into fibers. Ex: clothing, ropes
6. (PS) Polystyrene – The amount of space it takes up to recycle it makes it expensive when transporting it, but it is commonly reused. Ex: Styrofoam, packaging peanuts
Q: I heard that if you don’t recycle correctly it get’s thrown away. Is that true?
A: It pains me to say it, but yes. One major flaw in the system is that sometimes garbage gets mixed into recycling, which then “contaminates” the recyclable materials turning them into garbage as well. Another problem that may occur happens when some recycling programs only offer recycling for plastics 1 and 2 and plastics 3-6 get thrown in there “contaminating” the other recyclables. Make sure you separate your recycling and garbage and know check with your local recycling program to see what plastics you can recycle.
Q: What is your ecological footprint?
A: Your ecological footprint is your environmental impact and how many Earth’s it would take to support your lifestyle. Your ecological footprint is broken down into four consumption categories measuring your carbon footprint, food footprint, housing footprint, and goods and services footprint. Take the quiz here to find your ecological footprint.
Q: My water bottle claims to be BPA free. What does that mean?
A: BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical used to manufacture plastics in consumer products around the world. Liquids have the tendency to cause BPA to leak from the plastic and contaminate your water. BPA can mimic the body’s hormone functions and cause negative health effects, especially to infants who are in early development stages. I would recommend buying plastic bottles and toys that are BPA free to avoid any health risks.
Q: Can I toss electronics in the garbage?
A: ABSOLUTELY NOT! These items must be properly disposed by taking them to a place that recycles electronics. Also, some cities host electronic recycling days. Find out my by contacting your local waste/recycling management department to find out when and where.
Q: Is bottled water healthier for you?
A: There is a common misconception that bottled water is healthier for you. However, I am here to tell you that it is not and the healthiest water for you to consume is tap water. That’s right, water from your faucet. I understand that bottled water comes from beautiful natural springs or glaciers, however the EPA oversees tap water while the FDA oversees bottled water. FDA oversight does not apply to water being packaged and sold in the same state leaving nearly 70% of bottled water free of FDA regulation. Bottled water also sits in bottles containing BPA in the plastic for long periods of time. On the other hand, tap water must be regulated to fit the consumer’s needs. It may taste “gross” at first, but I promise you will get used to the taste and once you drink bottled water again, you will notice how flat and lack of refreshing feeling bottled water truly is.