Overwhelmed by Options

Raise your hand if you tried going green one or many times but got totally and completely overwhelmed by the amount of ways to do it. Raise your hand if you got totally overwhelmed by the amount of resources and contradictory resources out there on what is sustainable and what isn’t. Raise your hand if you just gave up because nothing seemed good enough. I can raise my hand for all of it and more.

One of the many reasons this blog was slow to push out and even slower to actualize and grow is because the many aspects of sustainability can be overwhelming from ethics to products there are a lot of hard decisions we are being asked to make. Do I support low wages in other countries to make this “green” product more available? Will I accept and support clean products made by sketchy and historical dirty corporations because they are easy to come by? Do I decide to never invest in new technology because of the wasteful development and “recycling”? The questions go on and on because it seems like every easy decision we ever had to make is no longer easy because we are becoming aware that every action has an equal and opposite reaction is not just a scientific principle but truly a way of life. In our wonderfully global society we are become aware that our decisions aren’t isolated to our homes but rather globally and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

With this post I want to harken back to the days of old and simplify the global impact to what we do at home. The three R’s are truly a simple and impactful way we can make easy changes to create a difference.

Reduce, as an American, I am more than aware that we create massive amounts of waste. As a flight attendant I am becoming more aware that I might be in one of the most wasteful industries in existence. By focusing on my household first I can make easy decisions on how to reduce my consumptions and waste from using reusable market bags to veering my home towards minimalism to make easy and quick changes. What are 3 things in your home you can reduce right now?

Reuse, this is something that has taken the grips of the politico in the US as many cities and states have made it a small fine to use a plastic grocery bag. While this is a greenwashing tactic by many governments it does make an impact in trash. Taking a step further I’ve take a look at many things I can reuse and have started only purchasing products that have reusable qualities such as fabric and glass only. What items have you been trashing instead of reusing?

Recycle, back in the day this was a no brainer. Growing up in the Greater Seattle Area I enjoyed sorting all my glass and paper for the recycling man to take care of. It wasn’t until I moved East that I found out the rest of the country wasn’t on board with our recycling ways. If you have access to recycling start, a quick google will tell you all your cities regulations and even provides printables you can keep as a resource. If your building or city doesn’t provide recycling, it gets a little more troublesome but I’m in that situation myself and will update you all on my success. If you can recycle, do not let others bully you out of it; in my job many can recycle and refuse, stand up and care for all of us.

Finally, there is a fourth R that was recently added to this mantra and it’s a little trickier and a little more fun. It’s REINVENT. We through out tons of perfectly fine objects because we just don’t know what to do with them anymore and this where pinterest became one of my good friends. If you’re feeling inventive take a look at that non-recylable object and try to find it a new meaning and home. I have taken pounds of used t-shirts under collection to make them into a quilt. If there’s a will there’s a way.

This blog post may seem a bit basic but when we’re overwhelmed and honestly a little downtrodden sometimes going back to the basics gives us a foundation to build upon.

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I wanted to add, as an extra how I have been trying to work on building my sustainable base after a year of truly giving up on a green Chicago life.

To reduce I have started educating myself on minimalism. After shocking myself with the amount of waste I bring home and take part in, as a single person home, I had to change my mindset on the sheer amount I needed. Starting with living a normal week but taking notes on what kind of trash I was filling my dumpster with and then making the educated to decision to stop purchasing, using, and bringing home individually wrapped products immediately, Then I made the decision to make all future purchases with the purpose of reusing and minimalism in mind.

Earlier I mentioned how I started only buying products in reusable packages. Today I pack a majority of my meals in previously owned tupperware and old jars. Food was an easy switch but turning my eye towards beauty products has set my on a whole new educational journey.

Recycling was a brutal R to move on to. The lack of recycling at my apartment complex and put me in a “give up” and “don’t care” mindset that really pushed me into a minor long lasting depression. I felt ill at ease and uncomfortable with not recycling and actually had a pile up 3 months worth of clean recycling when I first moved in, disgusting I know. In the last week I forced myself to research what Chicago’s real rules on recycling were. After discussing with many other citizens it was clear that Chicago didn’t have any recycling laws. I was wrong. Turns out most of the city gets away with not recycling because of our inept government. Once I found out I wrote a strategic letter to my apartment management to get recycling at our complex and even offered to educate the building. Recycling is going to be a long battle in Chicago but I’ve set myself to do it.

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