What better time to discuss pollution than on Earth Day? The environment is the source of water, food and the air we breathe. It is only fitting that we should work to keep those resources clean and free of danger. However, transportation, chemicals and energy use put a lot of stress on nature. Population growth taxes the land due to the growth of cities and waste. We have to produce to consume and we consume a lot of materials. Most of what we buy does not work in a cradle-to-cradle scenario but cradle-to-grave instead. Our packaging is unsustainable and we throw away a great deal of items that cannot be broken down for reuse.
That is why efforts being made now are so important. Puma has introduced new shoe boxes that use one piece of cleverly folded cardboard and a reusable tote bag to package their shoes. This is a smart way of changing the way people consume products from the beginning. P&G has changed their approach towards creating products so that they use less water and energy. These are important steps that many other companies are making—and some should be making. In all honesty, consumers and can only purchase products. If the products we purchase are "green" then already we have made strides in helping our environment.
Yet, consumers are a big part of the product. Even if all products became "green" and used resources responsibly, it would all be a waste if people did not recycle and reuse materials. In many foreign countries like Germany and Japan, recycling is not only separated into sections, but it is also mandatory. Glass, paper, and plastic are reused and recycled. Many consumers use old materials for art projects or as something other than what they were intended for. Here's an example: When ordering Chinese food, the dish that it comes in is plastic with a lid; you can reheat the dish as many times as possible meaning that you don't throw it away, but hold onto it until you want/need to recycle it later. Small things like that become a big deal when everyone does it.
So what would I say is the best way to be eco-friendly? First, don't freak out and make it seem like everything is evil. It isn't. I would say that the best way to be eco-friendly or "green" is to only use what is necessary. It was true back in the olden days and it is true now. Remember learning about supply and demand? If there is low demand for an item, it will not be produced as much/as often. We can do our part by being smart in what we consume.
Image via UNC Asheville