Many people consider lifestyle choices and behaviors they feel will reduce harm to the Earth; Some recycle, some strive for zero waste, some eat a plant-based diet, and some choose to purchase items advertised as biodegradable.
Though there are several ways people can lessen their impact, purchasing items advertised as being biodegradable in particular has an appeal to people because it can seem like a more passive change because it is not uncommon for people to assume that biodegradable waste will disappear no matter what happens to it- This is not the case!
In order for biodegradation to occur, the presence of proper thermodynamic conditions and microorganisms are required. Putting organic or biodegradable waste into landfills does not support these necessary conditions and never gives wastes the opportunity to decompose, condemning them to reside in landfill space for decades.
In 2017, about 139.6 million tons of MSW (municipal solid waste) were landfilled in the United States (EPA), of that, nearly 94 million tons were organic wastes that would have been able to decompose if disposed of differently. Yikes!
Despite the bad news about limitations for biodegradable waste, do not be discouraged- Buying “biodegradable” products is an excellent choice if you know how to properly dispose of them. With these, composting is key!
Find local composting here: https://compostnow.org/compost-services/
When it comes to shopping, we all want to purchase a great product at the best possible price, right? Recently, I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to do this is to spend a few hours on Saturday morning shopping your local community garage sale.
Last weekend, my wife and I attended West Toledo’s Library Village Garage Sale, which is about 15 minutes from where we live. Shopping neighborhood garage sales can be a fun and rewarding hobby where you can score some great deals. Besides that, a community sale also offers 3 unique benefits to the host neighborhood.
Get to know other people in your neighborhood
Garage sales are one of the best ways to get to know neighbors that you otherwise would never meet. I mean, where else can you come onto a stranger’s lawn, go through their old stuff, have a conversation, and offer to buy at 90% less than retail value?
However, the benefits of these sales is not only in the buying and selling. Garage sales bring people together in a fun and festive atmosphere. For instance, last weekend there were people grilling hot dogs and selling tamales at the check-out lines. One guy was even selling corn as he rode his bicycle! As you know, the better you get to know your neighbors, the more tight-knit and healthy a community can become.
Second-hand shopping is good for the planet
Community-wide garage sales continue to grow in popularity because they are a win for the seller, buyer, and environment. For the seller, they are an opportunity to get cash for your items, and you’re guaranteed to have a lot of traffic throughout the day. As for the buyer, there is a much higher ROI to shop a neighborhood that has 80 sales within a one-mile area than to drive up and down random streets looking for a deal.
Perhaps the biggest win goes to Planet Earth, though. According to a 2013 infographic published by signs.com, there are on average 165,000 garage sales held in the United States every week. Furthermore, roughly 690,000 weekly shoppers make purchases while attending these sales. That’s a lot of merchandise that finds a second home and is spared a potential trip to the landfill. Can you imagine what 690,000 items per week would look like in one year?
Everyone who participates will likely profit
There are three main reasons why garage sales are such a great local profit opportunity. Of course, you already know that the seller profits when an item sells, and the buyer profits by paying far less than retail value. So, what is another way a community garage sale might be profitable?
Looking at our infographic above, the average profit margin of garage sale items that are later resold on eBay is 462%. Many people, myself included, are turning the idea of shopping at community garage sales into a fun side business. This is a great way to learn about various markets and earn a profit at the same time.
Me checking prices on eBay during the sale.
What neighborhood will you shop in this weekend?
Shopping at garage sales is the ultimate participation activity for being environmentally sustainable while simultaneously benefitting your local community. You never know what hidden treasures you’ll come across that someone is practically giving away!
This Saturday should be one of the best of the year for getting out and scoring some bargains. That’s because the second Saturday in August is National Garage Sale Day in the US. If you’re ready to get involved, you can use these three links to find a community sale in your neighborhood.
By the way, if you do go out this weekend, be sure to let me know about your best deals in the comments below.
Local food, as defined by the US Department of Agriculture, is “…the direct or intermediated marketing of food to consumers that is produced and distributed in a limited geographic area” (USDA). It is important to note that this definition can vary, and that guidelines on specific geographic boundaries differ based on state or region regulations. In relation to this article, local produce purchasing will refer to the attempt to purchase produce originating as close to the consumer’s home location as possible.
Why should anyone care about local produce?
We all know the produce we find in the store must be grown, but we may not all consider where it came from or how it got there. There’s not always an obvious need to think about those details when (for many Americans) finding produce is as simple as stopping by the grocery store and picking your preference. The ease and commonality of the process is less-than thought-provoking, but it must come from somewhere, right? The produce found in grocery stores must either be shipped, driven, or flown from where it was grown to wherever its consumption-fated destination may be. The distance between the two determines the unnecessary amount of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons that are released (EPA).
Some of the benefits that come from buying local produce include:
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
The less transportation required in the journey from farm to table, the lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Stimulation of local economy
When consumers buy produce locally, it increases the likelihood that local farmers will be able to stay in business, especially if they are smaller and must compete against various larger farms from other areas.
- Increased consumer consciousness
Understanding how food is grown and where it comes from encourages consumers to feel more connected with what they eat and aware of the food choices they make.
- Fresher, more nutritious produce
Produce is the most nutritious directly after-harvest food that is not local is often harvested long before it reaches consumers, meaning that it is likely to be less nutrient-dense than local produce.
How can I find local food?
- Grow your own garden
There is no safer way for a someone to guarantee that their produce is local than by growing it themselves.
- Visit local farmer’s markets
Most cities have a farmer’s market where local farmers, growers, and crafters gather to sell their goods.
- Visit county fairs/get to know farmers in the area
Similarly to farmer’s markets, county fairs are also an easy way to find local farmers and have the opportunity to speak to them about their practices.
- Purchase produce that is in season
Different areas have different produce that is in season and available at different times, so learning what types of produce are supposed to be in season allows consumers another way to tell if they are buying locally.
How do I know what’s in season?
Due to the wide variety of foods that can be consistently found in grocery stores, it is difficult to know what’s supposed to be in season and what’s not. The good news is, there’s an app for that! (https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/download-app) The Seasonal Food Guide app and website allows users to search by area, time of year, and type of produce, providing a results list of produce that is in season near them.
Have you ever thought about the environmental impact of one discarded water bottle?
A recent article from GreenPeace states that “12 million tons of plastic is entering our oceans every year”. That same article cites that “roughly 80% of litter in the seas comes from land”. That means the wind and waves are bringing our leftover containers and bags from the beach into our waterways.
The most noticeable impact of discarded bottles is pollution. The final destination for many these bottles is on the beach shore (ironically, where they probably began). Not only does this pollute our land and create an eyesore, but it is toxic to the many forms of wildlife that live in and around the water.
Recently, it was discovered by Chris Jordan that many Pacific Albatross die because of all of the plastic they ingest. To illustrate this, he photographed the remains of many of these birds. Chris found plastic containers and caps in nearly all of their stomachs. With no room for food to be processed, these birds died of starvation.