Living the Zero Waste Life

Although there are arguments about where the most pollution comes from, industry or human consumers, Lloyd Alter reports that a study from “the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and Aalto University in Finland…bucked the common belief that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of emissions; it actually claimed that 72% of emissions were caused by our own personal consumption, the choices we make about where and how we live.”

Modern humans have been bucking nature’s recycling process for 300 years. Nature recycles everything—water, plants, carcasses—all gets returned to the air, oceans or soil and is used again. Humans have been just throwing used things away. Americans are the most wasteful people on earth, creating 250 million tons of garbage a year. Most of it goes into landfills where it is buried or burned. A lot just becomes litter, disfiguring our environment and clogging our waters. We owe it to our own quality of life and to future generations to practice zero waste living. This article from The Environmental Magazine lays out a five-step program for getting there. And another article from Treehugger tells the story of a British woman’s attempt to live a one ton of carbon a year lifestyle, which is what each of has to average by 2030 to stay under 1.5 degrees warming. That may be a bit much for most of us, but we can try for the two-and-a-half ton of carbon a year goal, which is what we all need to achieve by 2050 to keep global warming under 2° centigrade.

One of the ways we can reach this goal is to greatly reduce our use of plastic. The five-step program has some suggestions on how to do that, and some product reviews I’ve found give us access to ways to shun plastics in brewing our coffee, shampooing our hair and applying our make-up.

We can also garden. It’s a way to avoid buying plastic packaged and processed food, controlling pesticides and using our compost rather than chemical fertilizer. It is still winter, but as any gardener knows, winter is the time to have fun planning the layout for the next season’s garden and starting to sow plants. Garden designer Elizabeth Waddington shares some creative garden plans in this article from Treehugger. And she gives many suggestions in this other article for starting seeds indoors. I remember my years of gardening when, in winter, Trudy and I browsed the seed catalogues (which often included garden plans) and then started tomatoes and pepper plants on top of a heated pad and under grow-lights in the basement. That was the most fun! Getting out with the rototiller in the spring…well, that’s another story.

You can find this and all the Creation Care blogs for the church website I have written at a consolidating blog I have created:

Thanks for your interest in caring for God’s creation! Elliott

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