We have a lot to ponder when moving. We have to change our address with the post office. We have to call our old electric company to disconnect service, and then call our new electric company and connect service. Depending on how far away we’re moving, we might have to close our credit union account in, say, Massachusetts, and open a new account with a new credit union in New Orleans, LA. There’s a massive to-do list associated with changing residences, and so we often forget one important thing: How do we get from one place to another with as little impact on the environment as possible?
Recycle and reuse
Attitudes about recycling vary wildly from city to city, and even from neighborhood to neighborhood. That might be why a survey found that people are more likely to recycle if they live in an area where social norms are generally pro-recycling. Broadly speaking, places on the coasts are a bit more enthusiastic about recycling than places like the Deep South, but there are definitely exceptions. When you’re moving, look into recycling options at your new house. Your new house might have options you didn’t even realize existed. Maybe you’ll go from cardboard and paper recycling only to a place that recycles everything, including plastic. Plastics are especially problematic, because while we’ve only been mass-producing plastic for a few decades, one study indicated that 91 percent of all plastic ends up as trash or litter. If we continue at the rate we’re going, there will be an estimated 12 billion tons of plastic in landfills by 2050.
What if you move from a place like Seattle to a smaller town that doesn’t offer many options for recycling? In that case, it’s time to get involved and encourage city leaders to look at the benefits of city-wide recycling programs. There will be a higher demand for some programs than others. Most people will be willing to at least try out curbside recycling, it’s also worth researching whether or not electronic recycling makes sense locally. Cities can contract with local companies for day-long events where people drop off old computers, TVs, and other appliances that would just end up in a landfill otherwise.
Other ways to contribute
Once you’ve got a bin or two devoted to recycling, you’ve done your part, right? What more can you do? Plenty, as it turns out. The answers aren’t always obvious, but they definitely exist. Have you ever received a letter from your utility company or credit union asking you to switch to paperless billing? Some people feel like they’re more likely to miss something important if they don’t have a physical copy of it, but nowadays, most of us pay way more attention to our email inbox than we do to our mailbox. Besides, if you receive a really important bill or notice electronically, you can always print it out, but you’ll still be using way less paper than before.
Believe it or not, there’s even an environmentally-friendly option for furthering your education. Rarely do online education programs require you to get in the car or get on a bus to head to a brick-and-mortar college campus. You can get all the work done from the comfort of your laptop, and online textbooks don’t kill trees the way that traditional textbooks in the bookstore do. All in an all, getting a degree online is a clever way to reduce your carbon footprint even as you increase your brainpower.