Every decision we make, every action (or inaction) we implement, is shaping our generation’s legacy. Sustainable living and preservation of earth’s natural resources is something we can no longer ignore. Doing so only ensures that we will leave future generations with an inheritance of polluted oceans, unbreathable air, and overflowing landfills. Organic living may sound complicated and overly expensive, but there are small steps you can take that are simple and relatively low cost.
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is an age-old saying that rings true now more than ever. Living in Ocala, the beauty that nature has to offer is around every corner. From natural springs to canopy covered roads, our city is a beautiful place that deserves preservation. So let’s look at some small daily decisions that can become second nature and overall make a big difference.
Going paperless is an easy first step to tackle. Gone is the need for overflowing mailboxes as many businesses now offer incentivized paperless billing. To discourage clients from using more paper than necessary, some companies have started charging customers for paper statements. When it comes to the unnecessary paper billing, opt to have it emailed instead. Americans use roughly 85 million tons of paper every year. So for the paper items that find their way into your homes, make sure to toss it into the recycle bin.
One topic that has risen to the forefront in recent months is that of clothing waste. Every year 15 million tons of textile waste hit our landfills. While some fibers can be recycled, synthetic fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose. Swapping and borrowing is an eco-friendly way to recycle your used clothing. This trend of thrift store shopping has found an uncommon ally in the Hollywood elite. Celebrities are taking to social media to rally for people to shop at second-hand stores, or to donate their clothing to local charities that help those in need.
Here in Ocala there are many places that accept clothing donations. The Interfaith Thrift Store, Hospice Thrift Stores and a wide variety of smaller, locally-owned stores can be found with a quick online search.
As you go through your home searching for clothes to donate, take a look at your cleaning supplies. The cleaning products we use daily cause significant damage to our area. The toxins in household cleaners, when dumped down the drain can leech into our soil and water supplies. Thankfully there is a great alternative; eco-friendly household cleaners are safe, non-toxic, and come in sustainable packaging. By switching your detergents, you can improve your homes air quality, reduce skin and eye irritation, and respiratory infections. Want an even less expensive option? Try using basic items such as baking soda, vinegar, lemon, or olive oil. Many of these items are present in any pantry, and with a little research, they can prove cost-effective and leave you with an equally clean house without the harmful chemicals. It also helps to reduce the plastic waste of purchasing plastic cleaning bottles every month.
THE PLASTIC PLAGUE
If you’ve been on any social media outlet, recently chances are someone has posted content regarding plastic waste. This protest goes for everything from cleaning supplies to water bottles. Choosing to say no to plastic water bottles can dramatically reduce plastic waste. Plastic can take centuries to break down, meaning those toxins will live in our water supply for ages. One way to ensure your family gets clean healthy water is through a quality water filtration system. Installing water filters is a low cost and efficient ways to enjoy clean, fresh tap water at home. If you’re on the go, Agapanthus in Downtown Ocala offers Swig Bottles. These aluminum water bottles are easily portable and hold hot or cold temperatures for up to 24 hrs. They are perfect for those of us who find ourselves in line for coffee on our morning commute. Another added benefit, Starbucks offers the ability to use their reusable cups and have incentivized usage by offering discounts throughout the year. Carrying stainless steel straws are also a small change that makes a significant impact. The earth and the sea turtles thank you.
Every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 am to 2 pm Downtown Ocala hosts a local vendor Farmer’s Market. Everything from fresh seafood, honey, baked goods, fresh produce, and gluten-free snacks are available from a variety of different vendors. If farmer’s markets are not your thing, Mindful Foodies, run by Victoria Hall and Johnathan Keller, offers fresh and seasonal meals available for pickup. New menus are available every Wednesday, and these meals are perfect serving sizes to fill you up and reduce food waste. Not only could this be a time saver for a busy family, but these meals are healthy, delicious, and keep money in the local economy. Eating organic and local foods and choosing to reduce meat and dairy can considerably reduce our carbon footprint. By not adding to the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water pollution, and air pollution that is is a result of farming these animals and products.
All of these small steps yield big impact. So buy less, choose local, reduce and recycle. Together we can leave the next generations with a more sustainable future.
SUSTAINABILITY UNDER A BIG HAMMOCK
There are some local small businesses doing what they can to reduce their footprint. One such company is Big Hammock Brewery. Using easily recyclable sustainable materials they are helping to the cycle of single use plastics that have become a problem in our society.