Reuse, Renew, Recycle. Reuse, Renew, Recycle. We’ve all heard it a million times – but this year in celebrating Earth day I wanted to share with you my readers some specific ways in which you can start shrinking your carbon footprint today. And don’t worry – recycling isn’t on the list.
Now wait, before you skip to the next item because you’re thinking to yourself I don’t have a yard or I have a black thumb or I’m just too busy, let me ask you this: have you at least checked in your area for farmer’s markets or community gardens that offer compost drop-off sites? If you’re a Brooklynite like me, we’ve got tons. My system: I keep a plastic bag in the freezer which I put my fruit/veggie scraps in all week (for a complete list of what you can compost in NYC click HERE) and then on Saturdays I carry it down to the farmer’s market in Grand Army Plaza. So easy! Other benefits – I have to take out the trash about half as often, and my trash almost never stinks. For a complete list of NYC compost drop-off sites, click HERE.
2) Use less paper.
This a big one, and very far reaching. There are many more ways to start using less paper than you might think. For example, sign up for paperless statements and start paying all your bills online. When traveling, use mobile boarding passes instead of printed tickets (did you know you can purchase NJ Transit tickets on your phone? Click HERE. You’ll soon be able to do the same for Metro North and LIRR). Buy an iPad so you can use PDFs instead of printing out music for teaching and gigs. If you get catalogues in the mail, call them up and tell them you don’t want them. Use the front and back of paper. The list goes on and on. Once you make the change in consciousness about unnecessary paper usage, you’ll find yourself changing your habits.
3) Shop local.
By simply purchasing food that was grown in your region, you’re helping the environment, your own health, supporting local businesses, encouraging job growth, supporting area farms, etc, etc! I myself am a member of the Park Slope Food Coop in my neighborhood, which I love because it allows me to purchase almost all local produce at a fraction of the cost I would spend elsewhere. Farmer’s markets are also a great way to shop local. You can also shop locally online. Have you heard of Good Eggs? My sister and brother-in-law hipped me to this one, and it’s pretty rad. GoodEggs.com offers a wide selection of almost all locally sourced food (produce, eggs/meat, prepared foods, etc.) and shipping is free for orders over $30. It’s definitely worth checking out. NOTE: While I’m sure the woman in the stock photograph above is planning on reusing or recycling that paper bag, I recommend that you bring your own!
4) Don’t throw away useable stuff.
It really kills me when I see a friend who’s moving and they’re literally throwing away all this stuff that other people might be able to use – just because they’re too lazy to go through it and bring the useable items to Good Will. There’s no excuse for this. It’s as simple as this: whenever you find yourself being “done” with something in your home, ask yourself: could I use this for another purpose? And if not, might someone out there get some further use out of this? If the answer is yes, then bring it over to a Good Will or Salvation Army. Better yet, arrange a clothing swap party with your friends.
5) Buy a reusable coffee mug.
I’ll admit, this one I’m including in here in the hopes that it will motivate me to do this myself. With nearly 8.5 million people living in NYC, can you imagine how many disposable coffee cups are used every day in this city? I shudder to think. By bringing your own reusable coffee mug into your local coffee shop, you’ll be helping to cut down on waste big-time. And some places will even give you a discount for doing so (Starbucks for example provides a 10 cent discount for bringing your own mug). So let’s do this – me included!