Compost What You Can
Food waste and yard trimmings make up 26% of waste that goes into US landfills. Those are materials that can easily be composted instead. Composting is easy and benefits the environment in many ways!
Composting food waste and yard trimmings helps reduce fossil fuel use and carbon monoxide emissions from trash trucks. And once that food waste reaches the landfill, it takes up space and releases the potent greenhouse gas, methane.
Through composting, your food and yard waste becomes nutrient-dense matter (humus) that can be mixed into your gardens and flower boxes to give them a nutritional boost that is far superior to the short-term blast from most commercial fertilizers!
Composting bins are a great addition to any yard and come in a variety of shapes and sizes that fit into just about any budget. With a wide range of colors and materials that allow you to consider your backyard décor when picking a bin. If you are handy, there are DIY bins that you can make yourself. Some cities offer composting bins to city residents at a discount.
Find a beginners guide to composting online and go for it!
Plant for pollinators
Pollinators are animals and insects that move pollen around in the course of their daily search for food. There is disturbing evidence worldwide that pollinating animals are suffering from loss of habitat, chemical misuse, invasive plant and animal species, and diseases and parasites. If you are thinking, “Pish posh, pollinators,” consider this: these busy little bees, bats, butterflies, and birds are what make things like blueberries, melons, peaches, and potatoes possible.
To help them (and everyone else by extension) cultivate native plants that provide nectar and food for pollinators. Be sure these plants are not treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Crazy as it sounds, some garden stores are selling “bee-friendly” plants that have bee-killing pesticides in them. Go figure.
Make your yard, porch, or balcony a pollinator’s’ paradise by providing food, water, and shelter.
Grow your own food (or at least herbs)
Try growing your favorite fresh cooking herbs at home. Fresh herbs add extra flavor to your food, a pop of color to your surroundings, and can save you from running out to the store right in the middle of cooking dinner! Growing your own herbs saves money (a.k.a. green), time, and adds beauty and functionality to your landscape. And, since you are not dowsing your parsley with pesticides, you’re reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and protecting pollinators at the same time. Look at you go!
You do not have to have a green thumb for most live herb plants. Place an herb pot outside or even in a sunny window inside, and set a cell phone reminder to water generously once a week. Get creative with it; paint your flower pots as a quick and easy DIY, or Google herbal cocktails for a sassy homemade spirit.
Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Seriously!
For every six plastic water bottles we use, only one makes into a recycling container. The rest end up in the landfill, or as trash on the roadside and in rivers, lakes, and the ocean where they do no good.
Instead, get a stainless steel water bottle for every member of your household. Water bottles come in an infinite variety (it’s true, we’ve counted) of graphics, colors, and sizes. Get a water bottle that matches your workout clothes or your personality and make it part of your “gear.” Don’t leave the house without it and you will always be prepared and hydrated.
Get reusable bags and actually reuse them
Say “No” to plastic shopping bags. Reusable bags can help to protect marine life and are fun and stylish! Many plastic bags end up polluting our waterways and killing thousands of marine mammals yearly. When they make it to the landfill, it will take 1,000 years or more for one bag to break down. Recycling them is better than throwing them away, but the process still requires millions of gallons of non-renewable resources.
Since you will be reusing your bags many times, spend a little more to get something stylish, unique, or even handmade. Motivate your friends to begin their own personal ban on plastic bags!
This article was originally published in the Summer 2017 print issue of Sass Magazine.