On a recent business trip in Washington D.C., I met a taxi driver who was born in Nigeria and we were spoke about consumerism and its effect on the world. During his last trip to Nigeria, he encountered a landfill comprised of old computers, iPhones and other cell phones that was as high as a 10-story building and as wide as many lakes in Nigeria.
Consumption is what drives our economy. New gadgets come out all of the time, from the iPhone 6 to smaller, faster laptops, to tablets and phablets, to new juicers and coffee makers. The waste generated from the purchases we make is astronomical. To make matters even more dire, most electronic equipment is not recyclable. Our purchasing keeps jobs alive but it also contributes to a huge waste problem around the world.
Our system is broken and our mass consumerism depletes the finite resources that we have on this planet. For the health of this planet, for our generation and future generations, it is important to be educated and to make choices that support outstanding conditions on our planet and help us live well. Landfills containing all of the items we purchase and throw away do not support the welfare of our planet. The United States of America makes up five percent of the world’s population and we produce 30 percent of the world’s waste. We need to start taking action now to reduce the amount of waste that each of us produces.
Here are five ways to reduce the amount of waste that we send to landfill and reduce what we each consume on a daily basis:
1. Bring on Solar Power
For those of us who own homes, solar panels are a great way to generate your own electricity and heat and light your home.
2. Travel Green
Traveling is necessary in life: long car trips, bus and train trips, flights, we all take them. Getting out of the city and into nature is important. Many car rental companies, bus lines, train lines and airlines allow passengers to buy carbon offsets to counteract the pollution that these trips contribute. JetBlue, Amtrak and Budget Avis are a few of the forward thinking companies that offer carbon offsets for your travel.
3. Buy sustainable, eco-friendly materials
Self-explanatory. This stuff exists. It may cost more, but it does more to help our planet.
4. Donate old clothing
Help those who have less than you while keeping your clothing out of the trash.
5. Buy less.
We can all get by on a lot less than what we really have. Plain and simple.
We have a lot of power in the choices we make about the things that we purchase and why we purchase them. Use the power you do have and make choices for the planet. Please take on these practices and begin to create a dialogue for the health of the planet among your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and the people you encounter in your lives.
The planet will thank you.
About the Author: Michael Forman is a native of Bronx, NY and has lived in NYC for almost his entire life. Michael is the Executive Farm Director of Pure Love Organic Farms, an organic, urban Farm which he and three other friends created in 2012 from a former garbage dump-site and also works as the North American Account Manager for Totally Green in the Sustainable Technologies field (www.feedtheorca.com). Michael’s big picture goal is to create a solution to the water issues that are happening in the Western part of the United States through organic agricultural practices and make organic farming available to young farmers.