Recycle Old Habits


Jadyn Ford, Writer

We are all guilty — myself included — of turning a blind eye to our struggling environment. Once a year, Earth Day gently reminds us of our damage, yet is forgotten about the next day.

The United States is the leading producer of garbage in the world. Recently, I’ve opened my eyes to the amount of waste gone through without a thought.  Everything is disposable, and convenience is more important than ensuring our planet can sustain itself.

The US alone produces 30 million tons of plastic each year, and only 7% of that makes its way to a recycling center; the rest is burned or shoved into landfills. This is not sustainable. For example, plastic products such as grocery bags and water bottles take up to 500 years to decompose. Imagine the effect of just each drive-thru coffee chain in Sioux Falls; the amount of disposable cups that are pumped out every day really pile up.

Fortunately there are a few things we, average teenagers, can do to make a difference. Here are some minimalist changes that you can make to help out the Earth:

  1. Buy a reusable cup! Your baristas will be happy to serve your drink in one. In fact, Starbucks offers a 10 cent discount for those who do!
  2. Make the switch to reusable grocery bags. Most grocery stores sell them for under a buck, and they will last a lifetime!
  3. Limit the amount of drive-thru stops you make per week. The bags, cups, and containers do not disappear once you’ve finished your meal.
  4. Be aware of “fast fashion”. Our population buys 400% more clothes than we did only two decades ago. Try to cut back your wardrobe from dozens of meant-to-be-replaced items to several durable ones. The US based company Patagonia, for example, is Fair Trade Certified, and is crafted with organic, sustainable fabrics. If spending those extra bucks is a problem, shopping second hand also reduces the command for low quality clothing, plus it’s fun!

Living a minimal and conscious lifestyle is both beneficial for the environment as well as our mental health.  Joshua Becker, the founder of the “Becoming Minimalist” blog explains the relationship between minimalism and the Earth as follows:

“Too often, we get caught up in the thinking that the only way to save the environment is to make all these difficult sacrifices in life — like owning less, but minimalism is only a sacrifice if you’ve bought into the lies of a consumerist culture where we are constantly told that more is better. But more is not better. Possessions never fully deliver on their promise of increased happiness in life — they only distract us from it.”

We can all relate to the pressure we feel to buy useless items, and later realizing we didn’t need to. It’s time we make a promise to Mother Earth and put her needs in front of ours. This Earth day, let’s replace our greed with respect for our planet, and shift our habits. Let’s make every day Earth Day.