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Seven Fast and Easy Green Resolutions for 2017

POSTED UNDER Recycling & Waste Reduction

Make your 2017 a little greener and our planet a little cleaner with these fast and easy green resolutions. You’ve heard that a little goes a long way, and you might be surprised by the potential impact of these small things.

Bring your own shopping bags. You may have gotten the hang of taking your own bags to the grocery store – but you can take them other places as well. In fact, anywhere you shop (including Macy’s – and by the way, we offer reusable totes for sale in our stores). You can even get collapsible bags that fit easily into your pocket or purse, so you’re never caught without one.

Why are plastic bags so bad, you ask? They’re the second most prevalent form of litter (after cigarette butts). More than 4 billion of them end up clogging storm drains and polluting streams, rivers, lakes and oceans each year – where they cause the deaths of more than one million birds and hundreds of thousands of sea creatures, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. So break that plastic bag habit, and give the planet a break.

Bring your own water bottle. Every year, Americans use more than 50 billion plastic water bottles, according to water conservation organization Ban the Bottle – but since the U.S. recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, that means about 38 billion of them end being thrown away. What’s more, the oil used to produce plastic water bottles for the U.S. alone is enough to power more than 1.3 million cars, according to Pacific Institute.

Reusable water bottles keep your wallet greener, too – bottled water is many times more expensive than tap water. In fact, if you drink the recommended 8 glasses a day, over the course of a year you’d spend about 49 cents for tap water…or $1,400 for bottled water, also according to Ban the Bottle. (If you don’t like the taste of tap, a water filter or filtration pitcher will solve that issue for you.)

Eat more locally-sourced food. We know from your response to this summer’s “Show Us Your Farmers Market Haul” contest that many of you already love shopping your local farmers market. If you haven’t discovered the pleasures of this sustainable food source yet, resolve to try it out in 2017 and reduce your carbon footprint.

Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate, which uses a tremendous amount of fossil fuels as well as other natural resources. Locally sourced food, like what you can find at the farmers market, travels much shorter distances – and is usually treated with fewer chemicals that contribute to the pollution of air, water, and land. Here are a few more reasons to visit your local farmers market, and eat more locally-sourced food.

Green your cleaning. And detox your home in the process. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household cleaning products are among the most toxic substances we’re exposed to on a regular basis – including ammonia, chlorine bleach, aerosol propellants, detergents, petroleum distillates, drain cleaners and toluene. Not only do many of these substances give off toxic fumes, but they’re also absorbed through the skin (so if you’re the one doing the cleaning, you’re getting a double whammy).

Green cleaning products are often made with ingredients you probably already have around the house: vinegar, baking soda, coconut oil and castile soap. You can even make your own green cleaning products using these simple recipes from Small Footprint Family. It’s easy, and it’s much less expensive than buying them.

Waste less food. A shocking 40 percent of food is thrown out in the United States, according to The Natural Resources Defense Council, which launched the Save the Food campaign in 2016. That’s about 200 pounds of food per person. And that’s not only costing you a lot of money, but it’s also putting a heavy-duty strain on the environment.

You can waste less food by planning meals ahead and shopping accordingly, using leftovers, and being smart about when you throw away food (there’s more to “use by” and expiration dates than you might think). Explore the options and ideas at Save the Food, and start making better choices for your wallet, your weight, and the environment.

Start composting. No matter how thorough you are in food preparation, there are going to be some scraps you’re unable to use – and that’s where composting comes in.

Organic wastes (e.g., food waste and yard waste) make up between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we throw away each year, according to the US Composting Council. Composting is a great way to reduce that percentage, and convert an environmental liability into a benefit.

Compost is terrific for plants, gardens, and lawns, and it also helps reduce runoff, preventing soil erosion and keeping harmful chemicals out of our waterways. In an apartment? Believe it or not, there are composting solutions for you, too. Organic Authority offers great, simple tips on getting started. And, here’s a list of 100 things you can compost from Small Footprint Family.

Up your recycling game. We’ve covered recycling quite a bit on Macy’s Green Living this year, including insights on what you can and can’t recycle in your curbside recycling bin, how to find recycling locations for materials your recycling provider can’t process, and even what happens when non-recyclables are thrown in curbside recycling bins (hint: nothing good).

In 2017, resolve to find out what your local recycling provider can and cannot process, and adjust your recycling game accordingly. You’ll not only ensure more efficient recycling in your community, but also reduce what goes into landfills.

There. We promised quick and easy. Even if you pick only one of these resolutions or make a green resolution of your own, you’ll make a positive impact on our planet. So enjoy a greener, cleaner 2017 – and be sure to let us know what you’re doing!


You might also like:

The Growth of Sustainable Farming

Organic, Natural Hair Care

Your How-To Guide for Recycling

Associate Spotlight: Janet Saunders Tackles an Environmental Menace


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