by Alissa Oliverson (SWAC Chair) December 2020
Trash Talk series from Sustainable Klamath, Solid Waste Action Committee (SWAC)
It’s that time again, when we look forward to the possibilities of a new year and decide how we will rewrite our lives for the next 365 days. As we consider personal care resolutions like eating healthier and exercising more, it can also be good for us to incorporate activities that benefit the environment – activities that might not seem personal at first glance but can really have a positive impact on our daily lives. As you contemplate your resolutions for 2021, consider how you can add one or more of these sustainable activities to your 2021 story.
1. Swap eco-friendly products into your life
Q-tips can be swapped for products like Last Swab, swabs made from silicone that replace up to 1,000 swabs and are easily washed after each use. Kleenex can be swapped for handkerchiefs. Cloth towels can be swapped for paper towels. Every day 6 million pounds of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone. Paper towels are not recyclable and when they decompose in the landfill, they produce methane gas – one of the leading causes of global warming. You can find re-rollable cotton/flannel towels on sites like Etsy, or even make your own. You still get the convenience of the roll, you won’t be throwing your money in the trash with each used towel, and you’ll be doing your part to help draw down methane emissions from landfills.
2. Ditch dryer sheets
Single-use dryer sheets are wasteful, and being made from polyester, they are not bio degradable. Dryer sheets coat clothing with a lubricating film that reduces static and often adds fragrance. But due to unlisted and other potentially toxic compounds like Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs), dryer sheets can irritate the skin and respiratory system and poison aquatic organisms that are a crucial part of natural systems. Instead of using dryer sheets you can hang dry your clothes, which will make them last longer and save you money on energy usage. You can also try wool dryer balls, or simply separate natural fabrics from synthetic fabrics in the dryer.
3. Refuse receipts
Most receipts are not recyclable because they are often made from thermal paper, which is coated in bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disruptor that is easily absorbed through the skin and can contribute to increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive and brain development abnormalities. For these reasons, BPA has long been banned from products like infant toys and water bottles – but it’s still in the receipt paper that many of us touch every day. Not only do receipts add to the mass in landfills, but they also poison us with every touch. Say “no receipt, please” and if you really need one, use gloves to handle it and keep it in a dedicated space, like an envelope, so it doesn’t rub off on other things you touch.
4. Borrow and lend tools or other equipment that you don’t use all the time
If you need a tool for a home improvement project, check out Sustainable Klamath’s Tool Library at 1221 Main Street (next to Rodeo’s Pizza). The Tool Library is stocked with over 1,000 tools that you can rent for your project and return when you’re done. You’ll save money on a tool you might otherwise buy and never use again, which is a great way to keep your budget in check and fulfill the most important R in the sustainability behavior chain: Reduce. Borrowing can extend to other items you might need on a temporary basis, like stand-up mixers for baking, extra chairs for special occasions, or even luggage for infrequent travelers.
5. Join or donate to a local sustainability/environmental group
One of the most difficult parts of adding new sustainable activities to our lives is often a lack of support or information. But here in the Basin, you can get both! Sustainable Klamath is a volunteer-based non-profit that works to provide education and resources that help to protect and enhance the health and wellbeing of our region and its people. We are always looking for volunteers and donors to help us continue our good works. Consider putting your unique talents to work with us and enjoy the company of like-minded people who are excited to help make sustainability practices more accessible. You might also consider joining Klamath’s Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA). CSA’s are a great way to promote sustainability and economic stability by employing small-scale methods and keeping food commerce local. SweetUnionFarm.com is the online platform for a small farm in Klamath Falls where you can receive fresh food from local farmers, recipes, VIP access to farm events, and discounts on cooking classes and farm-to-table dinners. You can also purchase local produce through KFOM, the Klamath Farmers Online Marketplace.
Whatever resolutions you decide to pencil in for 2021, know that Sustainable Klamath is here to encourage and support the health and wellbeing of our region and its people. Find out more about us at SustainableKlamath.org. Happy New Year!