How to be Environmentally Friendly in the New Year


Story by Katie Lennon, Staff Writer

2019 is the perfect year to start becoming more environmentally conscious. From stores to actual products bought, environmentally conscious things can be hard to find, but not impossible.  

Worldwide, people buy about 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute, and only 23% are actually recycled. This means that plastic bottles are a large source of pollution in the world. By buying a reusable water bottle, someone can make a huge difference. One type of water bottle to buy are the ones made out of stainless steel. Buying a reusable water bottle reduces the amount of plastic that could potentially end up in the environment. It also reduces the amount of toxins that are released into the air during the production of plastic water bottles.

Many everyday products have also become recyclable in order to save plastic. Some alternatives are recycled toilet paper, recycled paper, and recycled toothbrushes. This can help cutdown on plastic waste, and lower the emissions that are released. There are even shoes made from recycled plastics. Rothy’s shoes take plastic water bottles and create patterned flats. So far, they have repurposed 20 million bottles, and are made by using PET plastic yarn, which is a form of polyester recycled filament yarns coming from bottles.  

Metal straws have also become a popular replacement for plastic or paper straws. Animals have been found choking on straws as a result of mistaking it as food. In order to cut down on this, many people have switched to reusable metal straws.

“Straws are incredibly harmful to our environment and they cause immense damage in our oceans, so I think reusable straws would be very beneficial,” said sophomore Joshuah Pribell.

Grocery stores are also a large contributor to plastic waste due to the shopping bags people use. An easy way to cut down on the use of these bags, is for people to bring their own reusable bags. This way, the person buying the groceries does not have to use the plastic bags, and as long as they remember to bring the reusable bags, they will rarely have to waste the plastic bag.

Another simple switch to make is to use light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs rather than halogen incandescent. LED bulbs last a lot longer than other bulbs and are also up to 80% more efficient. Up to 95% of the energy in LED lights is used for light, while only 5% is lost as heat. In incandescent light bulbs, up to 90% of the energy made can be lost as heat, and only 10% is converted to light. As a result of LED lights using less energy, the demand for energy from power plants decreases and can decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Amazon also sells rechargeable batteries. Batteries are full of toxic chemicals that are able to cause soil and water pollution. Because batteries are too harmful to be thrown into landfills, rechargeable batteries were made. This solves the problem, while saving people money and space. The batteries may cost more initially, but someone will not have to keep buying batteries, and they are inexpensive to charge. The positive environmental impact they cause is also worth the extra dollars.

“I use these [rechargeable batteries] to do my part in helping the environment, and because they are simpler to use,” said Pribell.

There are even specific companies that in a whole, are more environmentally friendly. For example, IKEA has invested in sustainability by getting 50% of its wood from sustainable forests. They also receive their cotton from farms that reach the Better Cotton Standards. Patagonia is another sustainable brand. All of their wetsuits are made of natural rubber and plastic water bottles get recycled into parkas. Nike even provides their designers with an app that helps them compare the environmental footprint of different fabrics. Nike has also redesigned its boxing in order to reduce the amount of packaging used.

Lots of brands and products are becoming more environmentally friendly, making it a lot easier to use products that benefit the environment. Even by using one less plastic water bottle, or a few reusable batteries, the environment could become a little bit cleaner.  

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