Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blogger: ... And That is Why I Recycle

Everyday when I look out of my window, while sitting at my desk, I am greeted by the sight of that plastic bag on a high branch of the tree in front of my building. I hate that bag with every inch of my body. It is too high up for me to reach, and it has been there for over a month. Despite the strong winds, snow and rain of the past weeks, nothing will take it off.

The other day somebody asked me why I keep posting about 'boring' plastic pollution, and this is my answer: that one effing plastic bag that not only ruins my view but suffocates the tree too.

This little piece of goddamned plastic is enough for me to feel furious, to feel angry, to want to do something, to want to reduce the waste and pollution that surrounds me. I have been following The Ocean Cleanup project, and have donated and bought two bracelets of the 4Ocean project as well. You might come up to me and tell me that Hungary has no oceans, and although you'd be right, I will tell you that you are turning a blind eye to the problem. The ocean still surrounds us, and your plastic waste ended up there too, that is the problem. Every bottle, every bag, every plastic plate or container, that is not disposed of properly ends up somewhere where it causes damage. Of course, years back we did not separate our garbage and as such it makes sense, that some things are a result of unwanted effects. But today we know what happens. So TODAY we should care. 

Plastic is just one of the many things that we don't dispose of properly, and I didn't notice how much of it surrounds us until I started washing everything and putting it out in the right bin. From childhood toys to earphones, not just containers, but pens, discs, old broken rulers, cutlery, chords, and every little fold and box within a single pack of cookies. I find it to be an incredible waste, but there is no money in green, at least not as much as there is in plastic. But hopefully, as we are running out of oil, maybe plastic products will decrease as well. What continuously revolts my stomach about these stories is all that plastic that is found in the stomach of animals. Suffocation is the single worst way to die, it is the only thing I am afraid of, maybe even irrationally, but I am terrified of choking to death. Then I see a picture of a whale that has over 200 plastic bags ingested in its stomach and I feel the urge to puke my guts out. If, by disposing of plastic properly, I end up saving the life of just one fish, then it will have been worth it. Of the two bracelets I got from 4Ocean, one was to help sea turtles, one to help the endangered Hawaiian Monk seals, because the death of all these animals will have terrible effects on our habitat one day. Water is key, but all who live thanks to it should be of the same importance. And that is why I recycle.

Recently I read a list of things we can all do to make the Earth a greener place and I found that I do almost all of them, and those that I didn't, I have started to implement since the beginning of 2019. I would like to pass on these smart and easy tips to make sure you leave behind a better world for your children and old You.

Turn down your thermostat. I have five radiators in my apartment, and two are situated in such a stupid place, that they do not really help the room temperature at all. For that reason I turn them off the minute they turn on heating in the apartment. Unfortunately, they are not that strong even on the highest level, but I do recommend those who can regulate it to turn it down to the proper level. You all have sweaters at home, I personally put out my favorite blankets for my guests and they use them gladly.
Turn the water off while you wash your teeth. Actually, the idea of the little water filled cup next to your toothbrush is older than I can recall. That is the amount of water you actually need, or perhaps twice of that, but that is all.
Use tote bags while shopping. I have like seven, and depending on my moods, I always put another one in my bag to take with me, almost every other day I have to run into the shop for something, and I am always happy to have it with me.
Bring water with you in a reusable bottle. I am still looking for the perfect one, because they all seem to leak, but nonetheless, I think we all forget to drink the proper amounts of water daily, and having your own bottle helps with that. You can always fill up your bottle during the day.
Turn off and unplug the electronic appliances that you are not using. I religiously turn off my wifi and modem the minute before I step out the door. I am not home, why should it be going? Same with every appliance that has a little standby light going even if you don't use it, it just bothers me.
Put things out to dry, don't use a dryer. I don't have one, so that is the easiest. Also, a lot of times humidity is good for you and your apartment as well. Drying your clothes in the open in the apartment is actually one of the best things possible. You don't need any of your clothing dried that bad...
Wash things on a more medium temperature. If you can check the temperature of any water in your kitchen/bathroom, please do. That said, set the temperature of the cooler, freezer and boiler well. There are user manuals online as well, even if you inherit something or you threw out the guide by mistake, there are ways to fix that mistake if you just try to.
Collect trash separately. Every time when I decide to declutter my apartment, I go with three trash cans: plastic/metal, paper and everything else. I make sure to get rid of everything properly, because it is not nearly as hard as one would think. Help yourself, have trash cans for everything and look up how and were to dispose of them.
Once you don't need it, recycle it, rethink it, re-gift it. I have re-gifted hundreds of things, from clothing items to toys, of course, not without letting the others know that these are hand-me-downs. Still, just because I don't want to wear a shirt anymore, doesn't mean someone out there cannot make great use of it.
Don't use straws. Just don't. Or get reusable ones and wash them with the dishes.
Change your light bulbs to led. It is really in the little things that can then make the big differences.
Shop from local markets. First, they might be expensive, but they don't put everything in plastic bags/boxes. If you help local markets, prices will change, the consumer society has to change. (As a university student I know, that money sometimes is hard to come buy, and we are likely to buy cheaper options. That is OK. The aim is to spend your money correctly once you have it. Not to mention, that you can help markets in other ways as well, what you need is the willingness!)
Change to environmentally friendly cleaning products or make them yourself. I do not know how many DIY videos are out there help you to get on track with this, or just learning how much can be resolved with just a bit of lemon juice, but this might be easier than all the other steps.
If you have a garden or terrace, collect rain water and use it. This is something I haven't done before, but I do go and clean my terrace when it is raining, so I don't have to use it from the tap. Nonetheless, to water your plants and so, it is perfect.
Lower your meat consumption. Beef in particular is really bad for you. Now, I personally hate vegans, so I wouldn't want to go as far as removing meat completely, we are, after all, animals. But some meats more than others have bad effects on the environment once they pass through our bodies, so reducing the quantity, or changing it, to whiter meats is a great option. I loved this part of my life particularly because I learned tons of new recipes.
Drive less, instead cycle or walk. I am not big on cycling, I do love to walk. Knowing how to drive is a great advantage, but it is not the same as having your own car and using it all the time. You can have a license and still choose to use it only when necessary. Walking is, the most beneficial, and you won't sweat as much as you would with cycling. Still, scooters and roller blades are also an option.
Don't print out everything. The minute they told us at the university that they cannot print things for us, I got myself an ebook reader. It has been my best friend ever since. Some things are good to print out, but mostly because you do need them in that format, not just because you like wasting paper. And if it has a purpose you should print it out, the emphasis is on the fact that it can and should be reduced.
Use rechargeable batteries. We are running out of things that require batteries, but if you do, not having to throw out batteries is a good thing.
Stop using paper towels. Admittedly, this one is the hardest for me, but I promise to work on it.
Plant trees. Even if you don't have a place for it, there are hundreds of charities you can send money too, or help physically if you don't have the money.
It's best, if you don't buy it at all. I have a terrible spending problem, and quite frankly, there is only one thing that I could come up with in order to ensure that I don't spend money for no reason: I sleep on it. If I wake up the next week still wanting it, I do buy it. If I go back and they don't have it at the store anymore? That is a sign too. If after a week I cannot think of anything but that one thing, I buy it. That easy. This technique helped me in saving a lot of money, as I have ended up sometimes finding the same thing for half the price, just because I looked around.
Take short showers. Done. I only treat myself to a big bath once every month.
Switch to water-saving taps and shower heads. Ask your local store. The guy always asking you if he can help will be thrilled!
Help the thermal insulation with curtains and blinds. In addition I bought a bunch of warm blankets that brighten the colors in my apartment.
Use mulch beneath your plants, so it dries the ground slower. It is my mission in life to master gardening, this will be the first thing I do.
Unsubscribe from mail-ordered catalogs, write it on your inbox that you don't want fliers. I have, on a nice pink paper, they are still putting them in there, but I won't stop making signs until they do.
Don't ask for paper based monthly bank statements. Become friends with your online banking application or website, and if you do need a copy of it, go to your closest bank. Those people are there to help you. Unless you have a specific use for them, it is better to cancel those letters.
Teach your children and relatives, or friends how to live a greener life. Yes, they hate my facebook posts already, but I won't stop, because I feel the need to do my little part to ensure a better life for those I love.

Governments are against greener ways because it isn't profitable right now, it might be in 10+ years, but politicians cannot think for more than a couple of years ahead, because of reelections. They need results NOW. But if we both get together and showcase that we want a greener life, we cannot go unnoticed, because we are after all the voters that they want to please.

As long as I live I will try and make better decisions and not try to avoid things just because I might be lazy. Every solution is out there, just waiting to be found. If you do just one of the things listed above, trust me, it will matter in the long run. Even if it wasn't the horrifying images of a whale's stomach that drove you towards wanting to do better, I can still tell for sure, that something out there is going to piss you off too enough to want to say no to plastic. And when you do, start spreading the word. For me, I know, that the piece of plastic on the tree I see from my window will forever be a reminder.

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