Do you think about your personal impact on the environment? It’s something I think about almost every day. I was a kid in the 90’s, which means that I grew up in the era of the invention of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” and had a childhood centered around being highly conscious of our environment. Between that and parents who made sure I had a broad world view – beyond myself, and beyond convenience – I can get pretty hippy-dippy about environmental stuff. So, if it’s not your thing to eat kale chips or whatever, bear with me. I’m going to give you six really easy things that I do to help the environment that you can do too.
- Choose my bike over my car when possible. Luckily, Northwest Arkansas is a really bicycle friendly region. We have extensive trail systems, lots of “share” lanes, and a community that supports cycling. You don’t need me to tell you about the negative environmental impacts of driving your car.
Your challenge: bike (or walk) somewhere you normally drive. Just try it once, you’ll feel amazing! Let me know how it goes!
- Recycle! I live in Fayetteville and have two of the small recycling bins the city provides, so I’m really lucky to be able to stick my recyclables on the curb each week. We also have a set of blue bins in our kitchen and a bin in our bathroom for recycling. I’ve found that if there’s a place (or three) in the house for recycling to go, it doesn’t stray into the trash can. Lots of folks have to go the extra mile and tote their recycling to the nearest drop-off center. Fayetteville has plenty of these scattered around though – so no excuses!
Your challenge: set up a recycling bin in your home. Already have one? Add another!
- Compost! I have a little bin for compost in my kitchen that sits by the sink. Having the bin in sight is important, especially if you’re just starting to compost, because it’s a reminder to put things in the bin (and also to empty it!) Lately I’ve been branching out our composting into more paper goods. I even put a compost bin in our bathroom for tissues, cotton balls, and q-tips. We have a big metal trash can with holes drilled in all sides in our backyard for the compost to go when it leaves the house.
Your challenge: compost something! No excuses. Figure out where you can start or contribute to a compost pile or bin and put something in it! (When I lived in an apartment I worked with my church to set up a compost bin in their garden and brought my bucket of scraps to the pile weekly.)
- Donate what I don’t use. This goes for all things, but when I think about it I usually think most about clothes. We don’t have textile recycling in Fayetteville, so a lot of times a stained t-shirt is a big bulk of our trash for the week. If things are still usable though, it’s important to donate them to a thrift store where they can await their next home! I have a bag in my home office that is marked “give away”. And that bag is always there. That way, as I’m trying something on – if I’m not into it – it has a place. It’s not like, oh I should donate this one day when I go through my closet. I actually never go through my closet in one big day of purging. I just have the bag, and fill it up over the course of a month or so, and take it to the thrift store when it’s full.
Your Challenge: create an out-box in your home for things to donate. Make it somewhere permanent. Don’t worry about filling it up, just know that it’s there and when you come across that chipped tea cup that’s still too pretty to throw away or a dress that doesn’t fit any more, you’ll know where to put them.
- Choose to Buy things with less packaging, or recyclable packaging. This is something I’m working on a lot lately. It’s really challenging to do since our city only recycles plastic numbers 1 and 2. And worse, the plastic containers have to have an opening smaller than their base (aka be bottle shaped). Choosing a recyclable cardboard egg carton over plastic or styrofoam is easy, but buying spinach that’s not in a plastic clam shell container can be hard. This week I’m making a grocery list that is broken up by which store I will buy each thing at, and I’m going to do it with where I can buy things in bulk and bring my own container in mind.
Your Challenge: Shop consciously. Next time you’re at the store think about the packaging around your food. Make choices that are environmentally friendly when possible. And if you find yogurt in a container that Fayetteville recycles, I will be your best friend.
- Share the knowledge. Lately I haven’t been able to shut up about composting toilets. We had a plumbing problem at my house, and I was all – “See! See! If we had a composting toilet, these roots wouldn’t be an issue!” And what I’ve learned is that there are a lot of people who are also super into composting toilets (automatic friend people!) But also, there are people who don’t know a thing about them, or don’t totally get it. I am excited that I get to share and make some normalcy out of environmentalism for those people just by having a chat.
Your Challenge: Talk to someone about something you do to help the environment or something you wish you could do. Who knows, they might be able to help you do it or do it better!
I want to know, what’s on your list? What things do you do to help the environment? What things do you wish you could do? Let’s figure out how to make them possible! What things do you have questions about? Let’s find the answers! Leave a comment below.
Northwest Arkansas Land Trust – The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust came up at my dinner table last night thanks to a couple of inspiringly environmentalist friends of mine. They kindly explained how the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust works to preserve the natural beauty of the Ozarks. Definitely worth checking out.
Ozark Natural Science Center – A local organization the strives to enhance our understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of the Ozark natural environment through school programs. Really powerful stuff.
Beaver Watershed Alliance – Northwest Arkansas has one water source: Beaver Lake. We need to keep it clean! Check out the Beaver Watershed Alliance to find out more.
Carbon Footprint Calculator – An eye opening and fun way to discover the things you use every day and their impact on our environment.
What’s this all about?
The Northwest Arkansas Bloggers have launched #NWArkCares to share social issues and raise awareness for local causes. Each month we are focusing on a different issue/cause. To play along, follow the hashtag #NWArkCares on twitter, instagram, and facebook or check us out on Facebook.
April’s #NWARKcares cause was the environment. Through my blogger friends’ posts and conversations this month, I learned a lot about the important factors in preserving the natural beauty of this place, the Ozarks.