How to be Sustainable in an Unsustainable Culture By Brandon Wasser

In a world of single serving everything, do you ever wonder about all the waste you produce?
Whether it is an aluminum can, a cardboard box, or the plastic rings around a 6-pack, I am constantly trying to be wary of my own personal impact on this very finite Earth. What happens to this wrapper when I’m done with my Clif Bar? How many aluminum cans have I crushed in my hand? Probably thousands. Sodas, beers, and even those darn bubby water drinks; I definitely have a footprint as does everyone else participating in this system.

Single use, recyclable, post-consumer recycled, refurbished, reclaimed, throw-away and sustainable are not just buzzwords. Sometimes when we talk about what is sustainable, arguments come up that pass blame onto corporations, capitalism and culture. This is lazy thinking. This mentality is not uncommon though, nor accidental. In order for the economy to grow, citizens need to participate in the buying and consumption of goods.

The great news is that we have the closest thing to a free market that you will find in the world. We get to vote with our dollars every day, and in the coming cultural shifts, this will make or break companies. Not only do we have the power to use our spending to support sustainability, but there are many things we can do at home and in our daily lives that can help. This goes far beyond your reusable coffee mug or water bottle.

Recycling our waste is only one variety of sustainable living. I have found in my own life, and through the help of environmentally-minded peers that there are many easy ways that you can lessen your impact at home. Reuse is another big opportunity for change. Taking your old clothes to Secret Seconds or another second hand store is a great way to help the community and give your unwanted clothes and goods a second chance in this world. Shops like Upcycled take items that would otherwise be thrown away and create wonderful products that you can use in your everyday life! A wallet made from recycled bicycle tubes? Yes please!

Composting food scraps, whether in your garden, worm bin, or through a food-scrap collection service like Soil Cycle is a great place to start.

Reusing plastic zipper bags is a wonderful way to store things, even food items. Washing out your empty bags is easy and gives new life to an otherwise obsolete piece of trash.
Bulk items in grocery stores are a really great way to avoid excess packaging altogether. Combine this with your pre-washed reused plastic zipper bags and you have a double threat against ecological destruction. Some stores even sell personal hygiene items in the bulk section. The Good Food store has hand soap, body wash, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent and dishwashing soaps all in bulk bins that you can use to refill your soap bottles from home. Rejoice in this amazing way to never have to buy plastic bottles again!

Next time someone tells you that it isn't worth their time or energy to reduce waste, be sure to share these simple ideas before riding away on your zero emission bicycle.

— Brandon Wasser

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