Happy Earth Day!
I hope you are enjoying today’s Earth Day celebrations that will last all week. The University of Oklahoma is having a “green week” celebration and I’ll miss most of the events due to scheduling conflicts (boo). I am excited to write about the difficulties of being eco-friendly today. It’s the blunt and honest truth about taking on a lifestyle that has its pros and cons.
I’ll also link previous mini series posts I wrote this month about environmentalism and such, as we wrap up this series on Wednesday and on Monday, April 30th. Friday will be a poem and photography post as well. Let’s get started!
This is a lengthy post so read it in parts if you have to!
Cons of environmentalism
AKA “the ego of the self”
Let’s start with the not so fun aspects that some people disregard altogether. I commute in my smart car five days a week for school and work. If I were to move to Norman, rent would be double what it is for a single apartment or house. Moving costs, drivers license address change, forwarding mail, etc. This gives me a headache. I have also lived in Norman a few years ago when I first transferred to OU. I grew up in a college town in Texas and my mental health can not take living in a college town. I freak out, panic attacks are more frequent, and depression is the worst.
I have this internal battle almost daily on the idea of moving closer for school and work. But living out where I do (and on the third floor mind you) I can not convince myself to move closer. I’ve made some deals with the Universe to share with me when its time to move. And so far, that hasn’t been shown to me yet.
This weekend, I took all my living costs and did the math of how much living in Norman compared to OKC: I have four years left for my undergraduate degree, and it would be an extra $6,000 to live in Norman.
Personally, this is the biggest con about my lifestyle that’s not so friendly to the environment. I can reduce in various other areas in my home life and commuter style, but it’ll be a tough sell to sacrifice my mental health to shorten my commutes. I also have to admit that commuting has helped my grades, since I’m able to worry less about socializing and more about academics.
Another con is about money and capitalism. For example, let’s factor in the money it’ll take to shift your entire house to reusable items or eco-built housing. This is the con I work through on my own. I have two or three plastic ziplock bags left and I use them when I can. When I have the money, I would like to buy reusable ziplock bags. This would cost me an extra $30 and that doesn’t include other eco things I am in the process of transitioning to.
My advice on not wasting money in being more eco-friendly, is to use up what single use items you have. Instead of continuously stocking up on single-use pens, pencils, paper, paper towels, ziplocks, etc. Use what you can before you save the money to buy a reusable item. It’s pricer, unfortunately, to be more health conscious about the foods, drinks, and items we use in our life. On Monday next week, I plan on sharing what items you can look into investing in when you have the funds to do so
Not everything gets recycled after you take it to the recycling center or have it picked up. I’ve been able to reduce the amount of recycling I take to the recycling center in OKC from weekly (2017) to biweekly (2018) to monthly (2019) trips. This morning was a struggle to drive to the downtown area to drop-off my recycling. Construction was going around the area I needed to drive down to drop-off my large bin overfilled with recycling materials… that added 20 minutes of driving to figure out how to drop-off the items.
Waste Management is also in this category, since they changed their regulations of what is allowed to be recycled. No more glass, shredded paper, or plastic bags. *Sigh*
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve all heard that mantra for years. Except its not affective when your local community doesn’t have the measures in place to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used, to reuse empty buildings, or to recycle some of the most basic items. I mentioned this earlier this month, but my families ranch doesn’t even get to have recycling or trash picked up- so they burn trash once a month.
It’ll take sometime before people realize that the way to help our one planet is to take small efforts to adjust our consumerism lifestyle.
Pros of eco-friendly living
Small choices lead to a bigger impact:
Finally, I am to the pros of being green! I mentioned earlier my smart car. I bought her last year, after wrecking my 2004 Buick. She’s been a beauty to drive around and has saved me gasoline (even with commutes). As a society, we can make smarter eco choices with small things like removing single use plastic wrapped foods, to buying vehicles that help the environment (electric, hybrids, etc).
When I dropped off my recycling this morning, a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had also taken out non-recyclable trash this morning as well and the amount of recycled items vs. my two small bags of trash made me fill better. To think that some people here in the US don’t recycle at all baffles me!
I love going to coffee shops, if you didn’t know. I have saved $1 this month from my 10 trips to various shops by bringing in my reusable cups. I also am working on bringing reusable straws with me as we itch closer to the hotter months.
Small change also goes towards water bottles. I haven’t bought a plastic water bottle since… 2015? I have several refillable water bottles I can use and I have lost count of how many plastic bottles I have saved over the years.
This is my favorite part. I’ve slowly begun to use what I have and then look into
A. Purchasing a more eco friendly option or using other eco options.
B. Removing that item out from my lifestyle.
C. Some other creative option.
I am now down to the last 10 pencils. By the fall (or whenever I am down to the last 3 pencils), I plan on stocking up on pencils I can use that will sprout herbs! I’ve phased out paper towels completely and haven’t needed to invest in reusable ones. That drove my mom crazy but this part of the lifestyle works for me, but not for everyone.
I mention “removing that item out from my lifestyle.” In March, I used the last of my highlighters. Since then, I’ve been using the stash of crayons or colored pencils for the highlighting I need to do.
I can not stress the importance of using what you own before investing in better options. It’s easy to spend the money now to invest in something before your item runs out. Your best bet is to save up money to invest in that eco-friendly item and use the last of that stocked up item. You may find out you don’t need any more of said item once they are done (aka sticky notes).
I hope you enjoy your Earth Day and green week! What are some pros and cons of living more eco-friendly? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a wonderful week!
Danielle’s writing career started as a musician first. She enjoys blogging about various subjects ranging from lifestyles, mental health, and topics relating to her English-Writing degree.