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Being Green Is Easy When You Think About It

I think we can agree that, generally, most humans follow an “out of sight, out of mind” lifestyle. I mean, we sort of have to because otherwise we’d all go insane. But, while it may be ideal for our mental health not to dwell on that giant asteroid that’s hurdling toward Earth right now (by the way, there was one that “barely” missed us over the weekend – it passed by from a distance closer than the Moon), there are some things we shouldn’t push out of our sight – for instance, our environment.

You go to a fast food restaurant drive-thru, and you want to be healthy, so you get a salad. You get some green stuff in a plastic container with a plastic lid, along with some healthy toppings in a plastic baggie, and some low-calorie salad dressing in a plastic packet, and some plastic utensils that are fortunately wrapped in plastic so you know they’re sterile, all placed in a plastic bag with plastic handles so you can conveniently carry your salad without touching it. You also forgot you were trying to be healthy, so you get a large chocolate milkshake in a massive Styrofoam cup with a big ol’ plastic lid and a giant plastic straw. A short time later, you find yourself surrounded by salad dressing-coated plastic pieces and a big, sweaty cup filled with warm, melted regret, and what do you do? You just throw everything in the garbage. Out of sight, out of mind.

How silly is that?

Something like that has happened every single say, thousands of times a day, for years, and it’s not sustainable. All this plastic that could have been recycled, or even better, just avoided altogether (in the case of the milkshake), isn’t truly disappearing. It’s going into landfills to sit for thousands of years, it’s littering our highways and it’s finding its way into our rivers and oceans, damaging ecosystems and wildlife along the way. In 2014, it was estimated there were 269,000 metric tons (593,043,485 pounds) of plastic in our oceans – 5.25 trillion particles of plastic floating on the surface. And that number certainly hasn’t gotten smaller.

Instead of being blind to the damage we may be doing to the Earth every day, we should consider our carbon footprint. Follow the Rs: Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose, and (I’m adding a 5th “R”) take a step back and ask yourself, “Really?”

Do you really need to throw that soda can in the garbage when a recycling bin was three steps to the left? Do you really need to power wash your socks in 300-degree water? Do you really need to use a plastic straw, or can you simply sip your drink out of the cup? (If you do really need a straw, they do make reusable metal straws that work just fine.) Do you really need two doubled-up plastic bags to carry a gallon of milk that was already designed with a handle? Do you really not care where your garbage goes?

Being green isn’t that complicated. It just takes a little bit of mindfulness.

If you want some more ideas on how to be mindful about the environment and our future, check out our Go Green page. 

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl