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Sierra Club Empowers Individuals to Embrace Zero Waste Living, Transforming Communities

Sierra Club Empowers Individuals to Embrace Zero Waste Living, Transforming Communities

The Sierra Club of the Eastern Shore is leading the charge in promoting a “zero waste lifestyle” by encouraging individuals to make personal changes in their daily habits. By focusing on the principles of refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot, the organization aims to educate citizens on the importance of minimizing waste and adopting sustainable practices.

In the first step, refuse, individuals are encouraged to question whether they truly need certain items. This includes single-use plastic bags, straws, and plastic water bottles. By avoiding the purchase of such items, individuals can significantly reduce their contribution to plastic waste. For example, instead of buying produce packaged in plastic, shoppers are encouraged to choose loose items. Additionally, diners can bring their own silicone bags or containers to restaurants to take home leftovers, eliminating the need for restaurant-supplied Styrofoam containers. Reusable bags should also be used at supermarkets and other stores, rather than opting for plastic or paper bags.

The next step is to reduce the amount of stuff individuals buy. Often, people purchase more than they actually need. By being mindful of this, individuals can make choices that result in less packaging waste. For example, laundry sheets can be purchased instead of liquid detergent in plastic jugs, shampoo bars can replace liquid shampoo in plastic containers, and toothpaste tablets can be used instead of toothpaste in tubes.

The third step is to reuse items whenever possible. Instead of throwing out stained clothing, for instance, individuals can repurpose them as rags. Thrift shops are also a great option for finding second-hand clothes, dishes, furniture, and other items. Furthermore, instead of buying plastic bags or containers, leftovers can be stored in glass jars, reducing the need for additional waste.

Recycling is the fourth step, but it is important to understand that not all materials can be effectively recycled. Recycling rates for plastics are dismally low, with only 5-6% of plastics sent for recycling actually being recycled in the United States. In contrast, paper has a recycling rate of 66%. It is important to check the recycling symbol on plastics, as those labeled with the numbers “1” or “2” are more likely to be recycled. Cardboard and aluminum also have strong recycling markets. Glass recycling can be more challenging due to the variety of colored glasses, but efforts should still be made to recycle it whenever possible.

Finally, the fifth step is to rot. Instead of throwing food waste into the trash, composting can be a beneficial practice. Fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, and eggshells can all be turned into nutrient-rich compost for gardens.

The Sierra Club of the Lower Eastern Shore has already achieved success with a plastic bag ban in Salisbury, and they hope to see similar legislation in other jurisdictions. By promoting the principles of the zero waste campaign and encouraging individuals to make small changes in their daily lives, the Sierra Club is leading the way towards a more sustainable future.

To learn more about the Zero Waste campaign or to get involved with the Sierra Club of the Lower Eastern Shore, visit their website at Lower Eastern Shore Group | Sierra Club.

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