The journey to a greener planet starts with you…. And it’s not that hard.
Written and complied by C. Tosh
The time is now. Anywhere you look you can find articles, documentaries, books, millions of websites…. Facts, opinions – just so much information on how we are slowly killing the earth. I have been researching on my own for a long time now about ways to becoming greener but part of my job here at Lehman Township is to research data, attend both county and state meetings, work with local recycling and waste facilities and the county to make sure we are providing our residents with the best and most cost-effective options to recycle. We need to stress the importance of recycling during a time when it seems hopeless. Through this journey I have learned so much and felt this was a great platform to share not only the recycling end of being greener, but how you can lean in the direction of being greener and see that its not as hard as you think. A bit of this information was published in our December, 2019 Educational Advertisement in the Community News, so you may have already read pieces of this, but I urge you to read it anyhow.
Let’s talk “going green”. It seems to be all over anymore – it may even be a bit overwhelming. Going green doesn’t have to mean your roof is covered with solar panels that produce electricity to light your home or having a 2.62-acre garden so you never have to purchase produce wrapped with plastic. It can simply mean you rinse and recycle your pickle jars and purchase a re-usable water bottle. You can make it as simple or complex as you like, but as long as you are doing SOMETHING, then YOU are helping!
First things first. Leave those plastic water bottles at the store. In 2018, Americans used over 50 BILLION plastic water bottles. Only about 20% are ever recycled. Since so many water bottling companies simply use municipal water sources you may find yourself asking “Why am I paying 50c – $1 a bottle?” Purchase a good re-usable water bottle and refill it yourself. While the upfront cost of a re-usable water bottle is certainly more than a case of water, it will save money and reduce the use of plastic in the long run.
Be a Responsible Recycler. Recycling plays a part in reducing waste in your area. Did you know you are able to recycle right at the Lehman Township Municipal buildings? We take clean aluminum cans, tin cans, specific plastics, cardboard and paper. We are proud to be able to provide this low-cost service to Lehman Township residents as well as surrounding community members. Permits are $50 per year for non-township residents (just $30 for those ages 65+) and are now available. The biggest problem with todays recycling is what people are calling “wishful recycling”. Wishful recycling is where good intended people send items to be recycled because they believe or hope they are recyclable, but they aren’t. This creates an abundance of problems, including higher recycling prices due to added manpower and landfill space. Simply look on the container to see if it is recyclable, rinse the item and remove the lid/cap before tossing in into the recycling bin. Check with your local recycling center to see what materials they are currently taking and abide by those restrictions.
Utilize Local Recycling events. Throughout the years we have locked hands with Luzerne County and been host to multiple recycling events. Our paper-shredding events enable our residents to bring up to 3 file boxes of sensitive documents to be shredded on the spot. We have also had the pleasure of teaming up with both Luzerne County and DAMA to provide responsible electronics recycling to our residents. Keep your eye on our Facebook page and website for information for these events.
Stop Littering. Do not dump trash. Report any dump sites that you see. Recently, we have also locked hands with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, Luzerne County, Pick Up the Poconos and Visit Luzerne County for a multi-county anti-littering campaign. Illegal dumping is a big problem in our beautiful state and we are doing everything we can to stop it right here in our backyard. You may have begun to notice signs in and around Lehman to raise awareness that littering is a problem. Not only are police and zoning officials being encouraged by the state to fine and prosecute litterbugs, but grants are also being utilized by townships for dump site clean-ups and camera usage to catch and provide clear and irrefutable evidence of offenders. Illegal dumping is a crime. See something, say something.
Reduce that junk mail. In researching, I’ve learned that the average American gets around 41 pounds of junk mail per year. That’s either going straight to the trash (or if you already recycle – to a recycling center). Simply collect your junk mail and every week, make a few calls (or a few clicks) and cancel the junk.
Educate yourself and open your mind. The more research you do on your journey to be a healthier person and ways to make our earth a little healthier, the better. You will have jaw dropping moments as you discover new things. There are so many documentaries and scientific reports available to help all of us learn and understand that becoming more environmentally friendly isn’t as scary as it seems but is very necessary to change the future of our earth. You will surely run into many opinions in which you may not agree with – but keep looking. You many find they are way off from the facts – but you may find they are proven without a doubt to be true. The next paragraph I could not believe and in doing more and more research into it, my stomach churned, reality set in and it was a game changer for me.
Conserving water. It is estimated that up to 50% of all household water usage is wasted. The world’s fresh water supply is quickly diminishing due to pollution and drought – so it’s important to conserve all the water we can. Look into ways to catch and save rainwater for household use. This is probably the most alarming bit of information I have found. We are running out of water. Look into “Day Zero”, “Cape Town” or NASA’s satellite data on fresh water depletion. Its alarming that demand is due to exceed supply as soon as the year 2030. You read that correctly. According to “Water 2030 Global Water Supply and Demand model” which can be found by an internet search, our withdrawal of fresh water will surpass the supply of the earth sometime in the next 10 years.
Conserve energy. It’s almost impossible to stop using energy altogether as we use it every day for entertainment, cooking, transportation, lighting, heating and cooling homes. Whether you get energy from electric, oil or natural gas, it’s something that is a basic necessity. Some ways you can conserve energy is turning off the lights when you leave a room, shop EnergyStar appliances and use compact florescent bulbs. Not only will you save money on your electric bill and possibly be eligible for tax rebates but you are also helping the environment.
Be aware of your transportation. Bicycling, walking, carpooling or riding the bus are the best ways to commute sustainably. Since here in Lehman Township we live in an area where these options are either unrealistic and/or unavailable, making sure you are inflating your car tires, driving slower, and combining trips are helpful ways to both save gas and offset the carbon footprint.
How we fuel our bodies. With food being a necessary part of our existence, this is one of the most important ways to go green. The average distance food has traveled in the US from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. Try to shop local and buy from local farm stands or markets whenever possible. Be aware of where your food is coming from and how it got there. Meat produces more emissions per unit of energy compared to plant-based foods. Do your research on the pros and cons of what you are eating in regards to the environment and the body. Keep an open mind. Try “meatless Monday” and learn to make some new recipes to utilize the local produce – see where it takes you.
Know what is in your Cleaners. By converting your home to non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products you can reduce the amount of toxins you release into the earth and ground water immediately. All toxic cleaners, air fresheners, even laundry detergents can be replaced with some research. Foregoing toxic chemicals and choosing sustainable options will not only help the earth and save you money, you’ll also be creating a healthier living environment for your family (and pets too!).
Don’t forget your personal care. Think about what you brush your teeth with. Is it non-toxic? Okay for a septic? You don’t use toilet paper that isn’t okay for a septic if you have one, why would you use a toothpaste that is non-biodegrade and not good for the environment? Look into what is in that famous name toothpaste (or hand soap or shampoo and conditioner) and start to simplify your personal care with better-for-you-and-the-environment options.
Support Locally-Owned Businesses. You may be wondering how supporting local businesses helps the environment. Well, it’s because small businesses are more likely to conduct business in an environmentally-responsible way. They also work harder for your business – this includes caring for the areas around their business to create a beautiful and welcoming environment. In fact, the first person to reach out to me regarding our upcoming litter clean-up was a small business.
I do hope you’ve learned much from my research and it has given you the urge to do more research on your own.
We have compiled a list of websites that have helpful information. Some are facts, but some are opinions. All links contained herein are for personal use to guide you in the journey to a cleaner, greener lifestyle. Use this information as you please.
Why we need to recycling more and trash less
Waterways, Lawn Treatments & Stormwater
Household Cleaners and Personal Care
Home Guides at SF Gate: How does Household Cleaner Affect the Environment?
BnB Dealer: The Eco-Friendly Guide for Airbnb Hosts
One Green Planet: Dine with the Planet in Mind: Top 10 Eco-Friendly Foods
Healthline: 19 High-Protein Vegetables
Global Citizen: The 7 Best Foods You Can Eat For An Eco-Friendly Diet
Climate Nexus: Animal Agriculture’s Impact on Climate Change
The Telegraph: All seafood will run out in 2050, say scientists
Penn Dot: Litter Facts & Myths
Conserve Energy Future: Littering Facts
Conserving energy in the home
ENERGY STAR: Product Finder
Energy Sage: Energy Conservation: 10 ways to Save Energy
Energy Sage: The Environmental Benefits of Energy Efficiency