Worrisome quantities of waste are generated by human populations. Especially in cities, these have reached unprecedented and alarming levels. A largely uncontrolled practice, it affects everything on the planet (including us). This is why it is quite unbelievable that governments and similar authorities have so far not taken more decisive measures. But every person in every household in the world can make a difference by changing consumption habits and by being aware that even small actions if carried out by enough people, can help.

Materials like plastic (once considered synonymous with the advancement of human technology) inundates oceans, rivers, and forests, seriously affecting both plants and animals. The numbers in reference to plastic waste speak for themselves: it takes between 500 and 1,000 years for plastic to decompose. Plastic makes up 10% of all the waste generated by people. In the last ten years, humans have produced more plastic than in all previous history of life on the planet. Every year, 5 billion plastic bags are used in the world, and 50% of the plastic we use is never reused. Annually, enough plastic is discarded to circle the Earth four times. Finally, pulverized plastic ends up in the oceans where it contaminates water and the food of everything that inhabits the sea. It’s not just a worrisome situation, but one that’s absurd. We need to begin asking how much of the plastic we consume is unnecessary and which of it can be eliminated.

Normally, lists of New Year’s resolutions include plans regarding ourselves and our goals. They’re intended to correct those parts of ourselves that make us unhappy or displeased. But what would happen if this year we began with a purpose, not just about us, but to have a positive impact on the planet, its ecosystems, and all the beings with whom we share this same planet? What would happen if a good number of the world’s inhabitants all resolved at the same time take these measures? While the idea is romantic, it’s hardly unreasonable.

Here are some important and simple actions to reduce consumption and the production of more garbage…

• Separate your garbage and recycle everything you can.

• When you buy food, choose products without packaging or that’s sold in less polluting packaging made of paper or cardboard.

• Never use plastic bags. It’s better to carry fabric shopping bags that can be re-used.

• Use a reusable water bottle or container that can be washed instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles.

• Always wash and reuse glass containers.

• Repair shoes and clothing instead of buying more.

• Don’t use coffee makers that rely on metal or plastic cartridges. If you do, then recycle the used cartridges.

• Use bar soap (sold in paper or cardboard packaging) instead of bath gel.

• Make a conscious effort to buy less clothing, and give away what you don’t use. Discarded garments represent a huge percentage of garbage, and the industry is among the most polluting.

• Use biodegradable soaps, detergents and cleaning products. All of them eventually end up in rivers and the sea.

• Replace cling-wrap for food storage with waxed paper or biodegradable plastics.

• Use biodegradable waste to make compost in your garden or organize with neighbors to make community compost and use it to fertilize plants and gardens.

• Avoid the use of drinking straws, which are an unnecessary comfort.

• Use reusable mugs or thermos bottles and bring them with you when you buy coffee or tea.

• If you order to-go or take-out food, ask that it be delivered without plastic cutlery.

• When eating ice cream, use cookie cones and not plastic cups.

• Use menstrual cups instead of other feminine items whose composition and packaging relies on plastic.

• Look for a wholesale food outlet and bring your own jars and containers.

• Share this information with as many people as you can.

Image: Johnson Space Center, NASA.

Worrisome quantities of waste are generated by human populations. Especially in cities, these have reached unprecedented and alarming levels. A largely uncontrolled practice, it affects everything on the planet (including us). This is why it is quite unbelievable that governments and similar authorities have so far not taken more decisive measures. But every person in every household in the world can make a difference by changing consumption habits and by being aware that even small actions if carried out by enough people, can help.

Materials like plastic (once considered synonymous with the advancement of human technology) inundates oceans, rivers, and forests, seriously affecting both plants and animals. The numbers in reference to plastic waste speak for themselves: it takes between 500 and 1,000 years for plastic to decompose. Plastic makes up 10% of all the waste generated by people. In the last ten years, humans have produced more plastic than in all previous history of life on the planet. Every year, 5 billion plastic bags are used in the world, and 50% of the plastic we use is never reused. Annually, enough plastic is discarded to circle the Earth four times. Finally, pulverized plastic ends up in the oceans where it contaminates water and the food of everything that inhabits the sea. It’s not just a worrisome situation, but one that’s absurd. We need to begin asking how much of the plastic we consume is unnecessary and which of it can be eliminated.

Normally, lists of New Year’s resolutions include plans regarding ourselves and our goals. They’re intended to correct those parts of ourselves that make us unhappy or displeased. But what would happen if this year we began with a purpose, not just about us, but to have a positive impact on the planet, its ecosystems, and all the beings with whom we share this same planet? What would happen if a good number of the world’s inhabitants all resolved at the same time take these measures? While the idea is romantic, it’s hardly unreasonable.

Here are some important and simple actions to reduce consumption and the production of more garbage…

• Separate your garbage and recycle everything you can.

• When you buy food, choose products without packaging or that’s sold in less polluting packaging made of paper or cardboard.

• Never use plastic bags. It’s better to carry fabric shopping bags that can be re-used.

• Use a reusable water bottle or container that can be washed instead of buying single-use plastic water bottles.

• Always wash and reuse glass containers.

• Repair shoes and clothing instead of buying more.

• Don’t use coffee makers that rely on metal or plastic cartridges. If you do, then recycle the used cartridges.

• Use bar soap (sold in paper or cardboard packaging) instead of bath gel.

• Make a conscious effort to buy less clothing, and give away what you don’t use. Discarded garments represent a huge percentage of garbage, and the industry is among the most polluting.

• Use biodegradable soaps, detergents and cleaning products. All of them eventually end up in rivers and the sea.

• Replace cling-wrap for food storage with waxed paper or biodegradable plastics.

• Use biodegradable waste to make compost in your garden or organize with neighbors to make community compost and use it to fertilize plants and gardens.

• Avoid the use of drinking straws, which are an unnecessary comfort.

• Use reusable mugs or thermos bottles and bring them with you when you buy coffee or tea.

• If you order to-go or take-out food, ask that it be delivered without plastic cutlery.

• When eating ice cream, use cookie cones and not plastic cups.

• Use menstrual cups instead of other feminine items whose composition and packaging relies on plastic.

• Look for a wholesale food outlet and bring your own jars and containers.

• Share this information with as many people as you can.

Image: Johnson Space Center, NASA.