And so it begins, our first bit of advice on how you can be an Ocean Guardian, in preparation for the 2018 Ocean Guardian Contest! Along this journey of blogs, we will be reflecting on our everyday life and consumer patterns. By sharing some important environmental ideas, we will see what can be changed to benefit our planet and our lives. The punch is that you can win a free vacation out of showing us how you are a environmental steward!
“Out of sight, out of mind”. In our fast-paced world, it is so easy for us to think this way. We chuck out our trash and promptly forget about it — it’s someone else’s problem now. With over 7 billion people on the planet, this way of thinking can lead to issues both on a micro and the macro-level. For instance, something as small as the improper disposal of waste has led to the creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a spinning mass of soupy litter that has accumulated in the Pacific. So before we toss an item “away”, let’s take a moment to brainstorm the following five questions!
1. Did I need really need this item in the first place?
Before we even begin to think about what is the best way to get rid of our goods, let’s first try to cut out this issue. From the moment we think about purchasing something, we need to understand the future implications throughout the product lifecycle. Most importantly, we need to reflect on our consumption patterns as a culture. We can’t go back in time, and it doesn’t do to regret the past — rather learn from our own mistakes, and avoid making them in the future. Once we start to realize how many things that we can truly live without, not only will we save a few extra bucks, but we’ll also keep more waste out of our landfills and oceans. So next time you go shopping for clothes or for a trip, remember to constantly ask yourself: do I really need this?
2. Can it be fixed?
I know from personal experience that I was not raised with the same fixer-upper attitude as my parents. Where my parents’ first solution is to get out the toolbox or the sewing kit when something is torn, ripped, or broken. My first reaction is: it’s done for good. However, with so much access to information these days — WikiHow pages, YouTube tutorials, and more — learning how to repair your goods before tossing them is just a quick internet search away. It can also be a fun project! Next time you get a rip in your jeans, think about how it is an opportunity to get creative instead of it being a “bummer”!
3. Can I donate or sell it?
Just because an item is no longer useful to you does not necessarily mean it is completely obsolete. Try to think if there is someone else who would benefit from this item. Craigslist, Poshmark, community blogs, and local item drives are just a few platforms. Share your used resources with someone else who can make good use of them. Think of all the people who have made use of items at thrift stores. Think of hand-me-downs and selling old clothes as a way to counter the fast-fashion movement!
4. Can it be repurposed?
With so many DIYideas on websites like Pinterest and Facebook, it is easier than ever to find inspiration to make new use of an old item. Repurposing goods not only keeps them out of the landfill. It also gives you a canvas to express your creativity and create something new that’s totally unique. You would be amazed at how old T-shirts can be made into such beautiful bags and carpets, and yes, even you can do it!
5. And if all else fails…is there anything else I can do?
I get it. Tossing something in the trash is the most easy, natural way of moving on and forgetting about a broken good. However, it’s time that we start taking responsibility for our harmful actions. When the first four questions don’t give you an immediate solution, the least we can do is make one last attempt to find an alternative. Take advantage of your vast network of inspiration. Call or text to a friend for additional advice, creative ideas, or a helping hand!
So, what do you say?!
A product’s lifecycle does not end once it stops working, its purpose or functionality becomes obsolete, or we deem it is no longer useful to us. It’s up to us as individuals to be aware of what happens to our trash when we throw it “away”. People can now make an entire wardrobe out of items that have been made from trash (and they look good too). So let’s take accountability for our personal consumption patterns and start brainstorming responsible alternatives. That way, we ensure our trash never finds its way into our magnificent oceans! I hope the first of our environmental ideas has set you off on a good foot. We will see you here soon!
Written by Kerry Dunn