I think it’s a safe bet to say that many of us have connected with nature more because of the pandemic. This connection has hopefully sparked a clearer recognition of how essential the health of our natural world is to our overall wellbeing. Most importantly, I hope it has helped us realize how crucial it is that we act to preserve the earth.
Doing that doesn’t have to be intimidating—there are many small things we can do at home that will ultimately have a huge impact. Here’s my top four:
TIP 1: Recycle ink cartridges
More people have been working from home than at any other time in recent history, not to mention the number of students also learning from home—that all adds up to a lot of printing!
The environmental impact of the tens of millions of used ink and toner cartridges that are tossed away are many. For one, the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals they’re made with pollute both the soil and water from landfill sites. What’s more, the cartridges are made from petroleum-based products, which carry their own environmental implications and are not biodegradable. Recycling the cartridges helps conserve energy and natural resources while reducing the need for energy to make more.
The bottom line? Keep them out of the trash. Some big box retailers, including BestBuy and Staples, accept used cartridges for recycling, while some manufacturers have free mail-in options: check your brand’s website for more.
TIP 2: Don’t squash that bug!
Our first instinct when we see a multi-legged crawler in our home is to exterminate it. Before taking that mortal step, consider the crucial role that insects play on our planet, which is creating the foundation of all ecosystems! Instead of killing the tiny creatures, consider trapping them and releasing them outside where they can continue to do their work. If you choose this route, please keep in mind that depending on the type of insect and the outdoor conditions – this may also mean their ultimate demise. Bonus points if you give all household spiders a complete hall pass. If left alone, they will consume most of the insects in your home, providing effective home pest control.
TIP 3: Say ‘See Ya!’ to plastic straws
Plastic straws take an astounding 200 years to decompose after being thrown away. In Canada, the government estimates that we use 57 million straws daily—that’s a lot of plastic waste! Help the environment by only using reusable straws or better yet just drink out of a cup the old-fashioned way.
TIP 4: Go glitter-free!
Craft supplies, cosmetics and holiday decorations are some of the most common sources of glitter inside our homes. Studies confirm that these tiny bits of sparkle significantly impede ecosystems in our rivers, lakes and oceans. The issue arises when we wash our hands. Any glittery item contains minute particles that are so small that they can evade water treatment systems and end up in our environment. That glitter is then eaten by the same fish that we ultimately consume. My advice? Forget the glitter and find a whole new kind of sparkle in a fresh, clean ecosystem.
From choosing recycable egg cartons to using re-usable snack bags for your kids when school starts, there are many ways we can all do our part.
Anwar Knight is an award-winning broadcaster, whose genuine and warm engaging personality has made him a favourite with audiences nationwide. With an insatiable curiosity, Anwar connects and inspires real-world action through storytelling. He is a passionate steward of nature and is working to propel efforts to preserve our earth.
Join Anwar on his podcast BigBlueMarble.earth and his recently launched FBLive show “Here n’ There” every Friday at 1pm
Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority
Ditch Plastic Packaging