Americans only make up five percent of the world’s population, yet we produce about a quarter of the world’s garbage.
UW Environmental Studies Lecturer Kristi Straus is here to help. During a recent appearance on King 5’s New Day Northwest show, she offered tips on how people can start weaving sustainability into their everyday lifestyle.
She encouraged people to use less water. This can be achieved by taking shorter showers, taking fewer showers, using the dishwater instead of washing by hand, or loading a full load of laundry, instead of a half one. She also advised people to eat less meat.
"There’s a lot of water use, energy use, and fertilizers and stuff when we grow food," said Straus. "And so by eating grains and vegetables directly, you use a lot less of that than if you’re going to feed those grains and vegetables to animals and then eat the animals."
Her third and fourth tips focused on buying less stuff and buying locally sourced food. She emphasized that in today’s culture we’re encouraged to keep on buying more stuff. But, repairing or even borrowing items from friends can really cut down our carbon footprint. Also, buying locally sourced food not only decreases the number of greenhouse gas emissions released, but also helps farms and local businesses stay afloat.
The most surprising tip was to choose facial cleansers that don’t contain plastic beads. These Microbeads are used as exfoliants in face and body wash, toothpaste, soaps and deodorant. These tiny bits of plastic clog waterways and go straight into the Puget Sound.
Everyday, 8 trillion microbeads end up in aquatic habitats in the U.S. To combat the problem, President Obama signed a bill into law that requires manufactures to eliminate microbeads from their products by 2017.
"Sustainability is a complicated word," said Straus. "But I like to think about it as, how do we live really rich, satisfying lives but not use so many resources where our children, our children’s children and future generations can’t also live rich and satisfying lives."