When most people hear the term “greening the planet,” they often think of tree-huggers or sailing the ocean to save the whales. As crucial as these attention-getting programs are, it is a myriad of little things that many people are already doing that will once again help return nature to its natural balance. It will just take more people doing more of these little things more often to begin to make a significant difference.
1. Waste Reduction: Landfills are becoming full and more and more expensive to operate and maintain. Over half of the trash is the recyclable material of some sort. Reducing waste saves money and helps to eliminate areas that become dead zones for years to come. Using reusable canvas shopping bags rather than plastic ones saves trash. Recycling cans, bottles, construction materials, and yard waste can make a massive dent in the landfill load. It is estimated that wasted food accounts for twenty percent of trash. Buying wisely and consuming what you buy reduces waste significantly.
2. Recycling: Aluminum cans and paper are the only two consumer items which are recycled to an extent. Metals are also recycled on the commercial level. Both aluminum and paper have right economic reasons for recyclers. Many plastics, metal cans, and glass items can also be recycled, but the economic benefit is not apparent enough to increase the use of the things made from recycled material. Making a conscious effort to buy materials made from recycled glass and plastics will encourage the greater use of these materials and reduce waste disposal issues. Most landfills do not segregate building materials for potential reuse by do-it-yourselfers, but making these bulky materials available can significantly reduce landfill rubble including concrete chunks, lumber, windows, and doors. All of these items have the potential for a second life.
3. Yard Potential: Everyone wants a beautiful yard, but all too often this means exotic plants and yards bags of waste. As a general rule, native plants grow best in the local area. These also tend to be the most water and climate-wise. Most exotic plants demand more water and attention and can produce an excess of yard waste. The yard waste should be composted on-site by the homeowner to be recycled back into the yard. Composting is a natural way to recycle nutrients and organic matter; both of which are needed by the grass and plants in the yard.
4. Water Conservation: The truth is that there is virtually the same amount of water on the planet as there ever was. However, the availability of fresh water for human consumption is declining mainly because there are now seven billion people consuming the same volume of clean water that existed for far fewer people. Add to that is the fact that many people choose to live where the water resources are minimal or heavily dependent on natural weather cycles. Conserving water includes everything from shorter showers, to carefully planned yard irrigation, to using grey water for gardens where allowed.
Greening the planet is not a harsh process but the simple realization that with the population today, resources must be used more wisely and efficiently. Excess usage is not only wasteful but expensive. One person taking advantage of these steps is nice, but if half the population made the same effort, the planet would return the favor by staying green and bountiful.