If you’ve learned any eco-lessons at all, whether it be from TV, school, blogs, or friends, you know that eliminating your waste as much as possible is like Going Green 101. When I was a kid, I learned all about our overflowing landfills, which were packed with plastics and Styrofoam and other unnatural items that would take thousands of years to deteriorate. Eliminating trash was important.
While we at the Drought Diaries love all forms of going green, we’re primarily a water-themed blog, not a landfill-themed blog. So why should we weigh in on saving trash? It’s simple: as unnatural garbage breaks down, their chemical components leach into the soil and pollute waterways. When you make less garbage, you save water in the long-run.
Another link between eliminating waste and saving water comes in the form of simply consuming less. We’ve discussed virtual water before, and one key piece of information when it comes to virtual water consumption is that not only is water contained in the products we use, it’s also contained in what we don’t use – packaging, damaged or spoiled produce, etc. If we limit our purchases to only what we need, buy loose items and reuse our containers and shopping bags, we can reduce about one third of our total waste. In fact, when California banned plastic bags a few years ago, they saw a very quick reduction in the amount of waste on their beaches.
Another way to save waste to save water is to recycle and compost rather than throw things away. We’ve all heard the benefits of recycling, but one major downside is that the recycling process is, itself, water-intensive. The plastic recycling process uses water as a coolant. Does this mean you shouldn’t recycle? No. But eliminating our consumption of products that need to be recycled can be a big benefit.
You might be amazed at what you can compost. Feces. Styrofoam. Coffee grounds. Even vacuum bags and packing tape. The biggest way composting is superior to recycling is that it doesn’t have a virtual water footprint at all, plus you benefit by introducing nutrients into your garden and yard.
Finally, if you end up with a product that you don’t need, that cannot be recycled or composted, and that would be harmful to throw away, consider re-using instead. If you have something that you don’t use but someone else might find useful, like old clothes, tools from an abandoned hobby, or toys that your children have outgrown, give them to a friend or to charity. For the truly useless detritus of your life, like items that are irreparably stained, broken, or outdated, turn to crafts. Blogs and Pinterest are your friends.
Garbage is a state of mind. By that I mean, almost everything has a use besides decomposing in a landfill. With a little creative thinking, you can save water by wasting less.