Coming Soon: Making Consumer Waste a Thing of the Past

Sustainability diagram

Remember when you didn’t bring shopping bags with you to the market? Remember when you used a plastic straw without a second thought? Remember when you used to think about the carbon impact of your purchases before you bought them? Eh, two out of three was a good start.

People are highly adaptable when they choose to be and are incredibly resourceful when necessary. Now both skills are required to meet the rising challenges of our warming planet. We are a carbon-based society for now but, within that system, there are choices we can make to greatly reduce how much CO2 we create.

How important is sustainable consumer packaging?

Consider how a few daily substitutions could amplify your CO2 savings over the years. Carrying a refillable water bottle rather than buying single-use plastic ones not only saves a lot of money, it spares the planet about 31 lbs. of CO2 per year. A single reusable shopping bag saves about 1 lb. of CO2. A reusable coffee cup saves 125 lbs. of CO2, and skipping all those plastic straws saves another 8.6 lbs. In total, you just avoided 170 lbs. of CO2 without missing a beat ‒ minimum. If all 260M adults in the U.S. did the same, we’d avoid 22.1M tons of CO2 – from just four throw-away products!

Not only can we make major progress when we decarbonize small aspects of our daily routine, we can magnify our result by making our workplaces less CO2-intensive. Kinda logical. Get rid of single-use plastic bottles in your workplace and get off of disposable coffee cups. Do you run the place? Give everyone a water bottle and coffee tumbler for the holidays ‒ and then stop supplying the single-use bottles and paper cups in January. Coffee shops are happy to refill your reusable item if you pass it to them.

America puts 6.34 gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That’s about 6.34 gigatons too much if we want to keep the planet cool enough for crops to grow and rain to fall where we need it. Yet, we just saved 22M tons by drinking two beverages a little differently and being better grocery baggers. We can do it with lots of small steps. Then some medium steps. Then a few large steps later.

Please, start small and start today.

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