Seniors can do their part to help the environment
The phrase green living has gained popularity in recent years and refers to choosing to live in a way that promotes a positive impact on the environment.
And while saving the planet may seem like a lofty goal for just one person, the smallest changes in our daily lives can collectively make a noticeable difference. With Earth Day just around the corner on Friday, many seniors may be wondering how they might do their part.
The following list highlights a variety of simple ways for seniors, whether living independently in their own homes or within a retirement community, to live more sustainably.
We no doubt have best of intentions when we diligently separate recyclables from trash in our homes. Believe it or not, however, there are likely things you have been tossing in the recycling bin that should not actually be recycled, and when a batch of recyclables contains such items, the entire batch is contaminated and must go to a landfill instead.
For example, items like pizza boxes and takeout containers should be scraped clean of food residue prior to recycling. Plastic bags should be taken to retail stores with bins designated for collecting and recycling them. Call your local municipality for a specific list of items accepted in your town’s recycling program.
Minimize single-use plastics
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, of the more
than 35 million tons of plastics generated in the Unites States in 2018, only 8.7% was recycled. In addition to recycling all accepted plastics, look for ways to limit the use of plastics in general.
Instead of individual, disposable plastic bottles of water, consider using a reusable bottle and refilling it as needed. Instead of disposable plastic storage bags, use resealable silicon bags. Many grocery stores encourage the use of reusable shopping bags, some even offering a small discount to customers who use them.
Reduce energy and water consumption
Something as simple as swapping your lightbulbs to LED bulbs and installing low-flow shower heads will reduce energy usage by at least 75% and water usage by at least 60%, and chances are you won’t even notice the difference day to day!
In the Anna T. Jeanes
Building on The Hickman campus, all the common areas have motion-sensored lighting to save on electricity.
Purchase sustainable products
It may come as a surprise that many of the products we use, from personal toiletries to cleaning supplies, take a toll on the environment in terms of the chemicals they contain as well as their plastic packaging.
Consider switching to products that have a more limited impact on the environment, such as bamboo toothbrushes, non-toxic cleaning materials (or make your own) and using washable cleaning cloths instead of paper towels.
Donate and repurpose
Spring cleaning presents an opportunity to practice environmental mindfulness. An old T-shirt full of holes and stains makes an excellent cleaning rag; that wooden crate that held your clementines from the grocery store easily doubles as pantry organization. Towels and sheets that have seen better days will be welcomed at your local animal shelter.
Many organizations — such as Goodwill, Salvation Army and Green Drop — accept donations of items in good condition, making it easy to extend the life of things for which we no longer have a need and keep them out of landfills.