What Does Your Trash Say About You?

Between your K Cups and plastic bags, the trash combined from both could circle the earth close to 20 times yearly… And where does all that trash go? In places like this

120423050950-lebanon-landfill-horizontal-large-galleryThe numbers get scary in regards to calculating our trash production yearly. We consume too much, use too little, and place the trash in the wrong bins because we just don’t know, and frankly don’t care. But maybe we would care a little more if these landfills were in our front yard or if the gas emissions coming off of them were visible. What we cant see we ignore and trash is just another one of those things.

The initiative we have in placing compost and recyclables into the designated trash bins is less than half the total amount of landfill picked up every day. But more than half the landfill trash is recyclable, just not placed in the right bin. What the landfill produces is lots of toxic gas and waste that just gets pilled into the earth till the sight has reached it’s capacity. Once that has happened, the landfill gets dumped elsewhere.

So what does your trash look like? Is it separated by number of recycled plastic and your biodegradable and compostable food is placed in a compost bin for your garden? Or does everything you trash go into one big trash bin and thrown out in a bigger trash bin? This is the problem.

bottles

Knowledge of your trash, and also taking the extra step in separating your trash, could make such a difference on the earth. There are many things that you consume and trash that may even have an after life for you such as coffee grounds, scrap wood and cardboard, and the remains from the lawn being cut, that can be used around the house or given to the right people.

If reading the ingredients or where something was made is a regular occurrence for you before buying something, then add what materials it is made out of to that list. There are many brands and items you can buy that are easily recyclable and reusable. Used coffee grounds can be used in your pants soil, biodegradable materials can be left in the garden and will seem to disappear into the ground, and plastic can be separated by numbers one through seven and taken to your local recycle center. Here is a list of brands that take the initiative:

img_6984There are more companies not included in the list. But what our main focus should be is  reducing the amount of total trash in landfills by adding more to our recycle bin and educating ourselves on the companies we buy from and their take back policies.

References

+ Retrieved from http://www.electronicstakeback.com/wp-content/uploads/target.pdf

+ Garment collecting. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://about.hm.com/en/About/sustainability/commitments/reduce-waste/garment-collecting.html

+ How Bad Are K-Cups for the Environment? – The Atlantic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/

+ LUSH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.lushusa.com/null/5-pot-program,en_US,pg.html

+ Manufacturer Takeback Programs in the U.S. – Electronics TakeBack Coalition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.electronicstakeback.com/how-to-recycle-electronics/manufacturer-takeback-programs/

+ Recycling – Apple. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/recycling/

+ Worn Wear: Better Than New – Patagonia.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.patagonia.com/us/worn-wear

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$165 Billion Worth of Edible Food Goes to Waste Each Year in the US Alone; Who’s to Blame?

An alarming 1.3 billion metric tons of food get’s thrown out each year in America between the farmers, retailers, and consumers. All while 48.1 mil Americans have food insecurities and a total of 795 mil people in the world are hungry. So why is all this food going to waste if so many people are suffering from hunger? Here’s why:

  1. The Farmers: Farmers also deal with hunger themselves. Due to their vulnerability to the environment, farmers are more susceptible to drought, epidemics, or pests who could ruin their food supply. But farmers are also to blame for discarding a lot of food. Due to standards of the retailers and supermarkets, farmers have to toss produce that doesn’t fit standards of color, weight or shape. They also leave all produce that falls on the ground before harvest.
  1. The Retailers: As mentioned before, the farmers must meet the retailers standards for the appearance of the food. These standards are high due to customer demand and the retailers need to make profit. No blemishes or bruises, no odd coloring, and no shapes that do not fit the expected shape of that fruit or vegetable. In fact, approximately 17% of the food thrown out is just vegetables. And that is usually just because a consumer would bypass that vegetable for one that “looks better”. Looks better? Really? It’s not the oscars and you are not picking out a dress, it is a cucumber…
  1. The Household: Of that $165 billion worth of food waste, approximately 1/3 is being wasted in the household alone. There are a number of factors contributing to why so much food is being wasted in the home. This includes cheap prices, grocery store deals, “family pack” size quantities, but most importantly not having proper knowledge of food and how to interpret the dates.

w-foodwasteLuckily there are organizations and groups of people who do rescue this food waste and use it to feed their families or a large number of the hungry. Here is a list of organizations and what they do to help:

  • Hidden Harvest where the group rescues produce that is left behind in the fields and orchards after harvest. This organization feeds 50,000 hungry people in the Coachella Valley, CA alone.
  • Global Hunger Foundation who’s job is to alleviate hunger from women and children of several communities around the world living in the developing countries such as; Kenya, Nepal, Tanzania, El Salvador, and Niger.
  • Hands for Hunger gathers unused or potential trash food from grocery stores, hotels, and businesses in the Bahamas and brings it to low income residences.
  • Culinary Misfits is a couple of catering chefs who pick the “ugly vegetables” from grocery stores that would normally go unwanted and turn them into their gourmet meals.
  • Dumpster Divers. Whether you are homeless, hungry, or just know your local grocery store throws out way too much edible food to pass up, dumpster divers are everywhere and they are smart. They have saved money on groceries that are better and more expensive then they would typically eat if boughten at the store.
  • & More…

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But those organizations helping aren’t enough. There are plenty of ways you can help in reducing the tons and tons of food wasted every year.

You can start at the home. Make a grocery list instead of guessing what you need while there. This will prevent you from doubling grocery items or buying something you do not need. Another step is portion control, make as much as you can eat. You can also freeze grocery items like meat, fruit, and by placing herbs and greens in ice cubes. This will allow your food to last longer. Know that the expiration, sell by, or best used by dates are when that item is expected to be at it’s very best, that does not mean after that date, throw it out. If it smells fine, looks fine, and is not growing mold, then it is probably good to eat.

You can follow up by asking your grocery store what they do with their waste. Many grocery stores may not answer or disclose such information, but it is worth a shot. Ask and encourage them to make a trip to a local feeding shelter for homeless and hungry. Or volunteer yourself to take as much of the food that will be thrown out that night and drive it to a shelter. And last but not least, stop being so picky about your fruits and vegetables at the store, they all taste the same no matter what shape or color they are. Just remember, Bananas are best when bruised and freckled!

References

What’s Your Deal Coca-Cola?

It seems like the bigger a company becomes, the less environmentally responsible they think they have to be. Profit comes first, and the environment comes second (if at all). That is how it has always been for companies like Coca Cola, Chevron, Ford, Walmart, and so many more.

As Adam Lowry, CEO of Method household products, mentions in “Why Evil Is Better in Business (or Is It?)INC, businesses think that their way to “‘do good’ is to make as much money as possible and then donate some of it to causes it thinks are important.” But people are starting to question these companies right, or wrong doings. Just because you donate money to probable causes, does not take away the fact that you are harming the earth in one way or another.

This leads to another hidden problem. Being a sustainable business does not just mean keeping carbon out of the air or not chopping down trees, it also means protecting humans from disease, or keeping animals out of harm. It means not overusing your resources to make your product or not monopolizing the economy. This is how companies can cover up the wrongs with rights.

Coca-Cola has revealed that they are using sustainable packaging, protecting workers rights, and building water plants for poor communities. This is all really great except for the part where they forgot how they are contributing to one the top ten leading causes of death in America, Obesity or in technical terms Diabetes.

global_obesity_fat_americans_30_percent_of_world_s_human_biomass-650x487Climate Change is real and relevant to everyone, including these large corporations. Where there is a lot of impact, there should be a lot of change. These companies are a large part of the negative effects happening on the environment so they should be the ones making the biggest changes in terms of becoming more sustainable, not only as a company but with their own products especially. Supporting charities and helping developing countries is good, and should continue. But the first thing that should happen is for these companies to take a look at their own products first and make a change there.

Whether these companies believe in Climate Change or not, eventually their resources will run out if they continue to use at the same rate they do now or have for the past 20+ years. So why not make a shift now? Why not focus on promoting health and sustainability in your own product instead of putting the focus on others? Your drink is the problem Coca-Cola. You are the problem. Let’s Start There!

Resources

+ Non Renewable Resources 

+ Sustainable Business

+ Why Evil Is Better in Business (or Is It?)

+ http://moodle.woodbury.edu/pluginfile.php/186446/mod_resource/content/1/SM_Ch12.pdf

+ Image 1: http://killercoke.org/img/content/coke_dietitians_for_professional_integrity.jpg

+ Image 2: WWFMI_640X360.jpg

+ Image 3: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwionMXKw9LLAhUCOCYKHb5QDcIQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fguardianlv.com%2F2013%2F08%2Fobesity-is-caused-by-laziness%2F&bvm=bv.117218890,d.eWE&psig=AFQjCNHZuKK5BMXYhF6YnmsRgotMaizevg&ust=1458675432870881