One of my big goals for 2016 is to reduce.
As a society I think we place a lot of emphasis on recycling. Which isn’t an inherently bad thing–but recycling is just one of the ways we cut down on the amount of trash we put into the world. And it is, arguably, the most energy intensive (carbon-wise) of the three. Not to mention the problem that you can’t recycle everything. Especially where I live.
I’m cutting out products that have a lot of excess packaging. Individually wrapped snacks. Extra plastic for sealing. Anything with styrofoam.
There’s also reusing/repurposing. Composting is a big one.
There’s always a balance, of course. Yes, I can make my own granola bars and yogurt, but not everyone has the time to do it. Generally speaking, you can compost any sort of produce leftovers, but animals products are no go. And like most people, we have a finite amount of space in which to compost. There are limitations, but we work with and around them.
There are other reductions and reuses, too. Although our water gets slowly cycled back into the aquifer, I want to reuse more of it for our garden and houseplants. I’m going to go back to buying more secondhand clothes (which is also usually more cost effective), repairing tears, and cutting up unsalvageable items for rags. Energy use is straight reduction: better electricity management, less driving.
There’s a lot more that we need to do and a large chunk of it happens on the societal and industrial levelw. But that doesn’t make the actions of individuals meaningless. It goes back to the idea of consciousness I’ve been working on cultivating. If we’re aware and thoughtful, we are capable of so much. It’s not always easy and not every solution is available to every person, but that does not make it less worthwhile. Rather, it’s a better reason to do what we can when we can.