There’s no point in stressing over things we can’t control, right? So, acknowledging the disturbing levels of consumption in America feels futile. What power does any one of us have to fix the factories, the supply chains, and environmental impacts of the corporations like Unilever who make many products we need and use frequently? This argument is understandable.
We Americans, and all those with the comforts and conveniences available in first-world countries, have more or less thrown our hands in the air with this topic. We choose not to think about how much the earth and people get mistreated and exploited every day. But we need to face the truth—
- The average North American household uses roughly 240 gallons of water daily for indoor and outdoor uses.
- In 2017, the average American generated 4.5 lbs of municipal solid waste (MSW) each day, with only 1.6 lbs recovered for recycling or composting. For comparison, MSW generation rates (lbs/person/day) were 2.20 in Sweden, 2.98 in the U.K., and 3.71 in Germany.
- Drivers traveled over 3.2 trillion vehicle-miles in the U.S. in 2018, a 112% increase since 1980. This is equivalent to more than 6.5 million round-trips to the moon.
- In 2017, more food reached landfills than any other material. This waste accounts for roughly 15% of the municipal solid waste stream and represents a loss of $450 per person each year
- Rubber, leather, and textiles make up more than 9 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. according to EPA estimates. That means the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year.
It’s true that big companies generate most waste. It’s also true that we need to drive to get to work, and we need to buy clothes for our growing children, and many of us are too financially strapped to boycott corporations that make affordable goods. We know the problems, but what can we really do? We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.
But this is unsustainable. If we go indefinitely at this rate, we will destroy this beautiful earth that God created for us and called “good.” So much is out of our control–but we, individually and collectively, can make better choices. One million people doing something will help our planet more than ten thousand people living militantly low-waste lifestyles.
In other words–it’s the little things that count.
Shop secondhand and/or locally when possible. Don’t be so quick to throw away leftovers and bags and old clothes; remember the saying “reduce reuse recycle.” Make sustainable swaps–reusable water bottle vs. disposable ones, reusable bags vs. disposable ones, etc. Educate others; be that person who saves the giftbags at the Christmas party or that person who insists people recycle their soda cans at the family reunion–and explain WHY. Start a recycling or composting program in your home, workplace, church, wherever.
Most importantly, don’t give in to apathy; don’t lose hope. Just do your part and encourage (not pressure–encourage) those around you to do the same.
As one of my favorite sustainability YouTubers, Shelbizleee, always says: “You cannot do all the good that the world needs, but the world needs all the good that you can do.”
How do you try to be a good steward of the earth? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!
P.S. Here’s my latest vid. Thanks to anyone who watches. Please like and subscribe if you enjoy it. ♥ This was my first time editing in Davinci Resolve, and I had way too much fun. 🙂