There are a ton of things we could all be doing to help the environment – but which ones are the most important? The researchers at Condé Nast publications tracked down the experts and grilled them – and here’s what they learned.
- Use a mug instead of a paper cup. When you buy a cup of coffee or tea in a disposable container every day, you create about 23 pounds of waste each year. Styrofoam cups are the worst, since they’ll never degrade. Still, Americans throw away 25 BILLION of them annually. Even 500 years from now, the foam coffee cup you used this morning will be sitting in a landfill somewhere. So, use a mug. In fact, if you take your own mug to Starbucks, they’ll knock 10 cents off the price of your drink. Those dimes can add up to an extra $15 each year if you buy coffee three times a week.
- Recycle your old gadgets. Barbara Kyle is the national coordinator of the Electronics Take Back Commission. She says that cell phones and other electronics contain a bunch of toxic metals and other pollutants. So, instead of tossing them, recycle them at a drop off spot in your area. Just go to GoodRecyclers.com to find a list of places that’ll be happy to take them.
- Think before you spend. Every day, each of us tosses about 4-and-a-half pounds of junk: Unused clothing, appliances, toys, papers, plastic and more. While some of that gets recycled, roughly three pounds go straight to the landfill. For every pound of stuff you throw away, the companies that made and transported it created about 71 pounds of industrial waste. That means each of us is responsible for producing a staggering 59 tons of waste each year. Clogged landfills aren’t the only consequence. Decomposing garbage releases methane, which has even more global warming power than carbon dioxide. The solution? Buy less, and you’ll have less to throw away.