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Making small changes in your daily life can make a big impact.  Check out this slideshow for quick tips on going green:

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I’ve always had a reusable water bottle, but it was only recently that I started making a conscious effort to never buy bottled water.  Bottled water may be convenient and seems like a healthy choice.  Plus, the bottles can be recycled, right?  So, what’s the big deal?  Why did I cut bottled water completely out of my life, and why might you consider doing so too?

Waste:Disposable

The Pacific Institute found that 17 million barrels of oil were required to produce the plastic bottles (just the bottles) for U.S. consumption in 2006.  It also takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.  So, every bottle we consume actually represents three bottles.

About 90 percent of water bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills.  Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, and Reusablebecomes toxic when it does.  Recycling may be better than throwing the bottle completely away, but this too uses up nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Health:

Did you know that in the U.S., tap water is tested more thoroughly and more frequently than bottled water?  This study actually found chemical contamination in all the bottled water brands they tested.  If you’re still unsure about tap water quality, invest in a water filter like PUR or Brita.

Economics:

Bottled water is expensive!  Bottled water may cost up to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water.  On top of this, some bottled water is actually just tap water in disguise.  A reusable water bottle is a one-time purchase, and refilling it instead of buying bottled will save a ton of money in the end.

Global Reality:

There are many places in the world where tap water is unsafe to drink.  During my semester abroad in Ecuador, I saw some of my friends get sick just from brushing their teeth with tap water.  Water contamination comes from pollution, and consuming bottled water causes a lot of pollution.  Here in McMinnville, we are extremely fortunate to be able to drink from the faucet.  Watch The Story of Bottled Water.  Think globally; act locally.  Go with the reusable water bottle.

More articles:
Bottled Water Wars | Tap water beats bottled in Oregon environmental study

Sure, there are some items that we need to buy new (food is an obvious example), but next time you find yourself needing to buy something, consider whether you can buy the item used.  As college students, we’re usually tight for cash.  Thus, a trip to the thrift store (like Goodwill on Hwy 99) can be a thrilling experience.

As we move out of the dorms and start cooking in our own kitchens, we have to start accumulating things like pots and pans and other kitchen utensils.  Goodwill has an abundant supply of dirt-cheap kitchenware.  Buy stocking up here, you’ll save a ton of money.  Garage sales are a great source for this as well.

So how is buying used also being green?  Buying used can be thought of as recycling.  Used products already exist, so no more energy or natural resources have to be used to produce something brand new.  In addition, you’re saving this used item from ending up in the landfill.  When you’re done with it, donate or sell it to somebody else.

Kitchenware is just one of many types of products you can buy used.  Consider these as well:

  • Furniture
  • Books
  • CDs, DVDs, and video games
  • Clothing
  • Bikes and cars

More ideas can be found here and here.

Where to look:

Reusable BagMaking a habit of bringing reusable bags to the grocery store was one of the easiest transitions I’ve made so far.  Reusable bags are easy to find (they’re sold right next to the checkout lane at Roth’s and Albertsons), and only cost around $1 each (give or take 50 cents).  After the initial purchase, the only other step is remembering to bring them.

What’s so bad about plastic and paper bags?  In a nutshell, the amount of natural resources and energy used to produce them, and the amount of waste they produce.

Both plastic and paper bags can be recycled, but this process takes a lot of energy as well.  Before I switched to reusable bags, I thought paper bags were the best choice—I was wrong.  Paper bags actually take more energy to produce and to recycle than plastic!

If plastic bags are your go-to choice, think about this: once they’re in the environment, a plastic bag takes hundreds of years to breakdown.  As it does, toxic particles seep into soils, lakes, rivers, and oceans.  Are you a paper-bag person as I once was?  It takes a ton of trees to make all those bags.  This article describes the process in detail.

Solution? Reusable bags.  They are cheap, easy to use, and environmentally-friendly.  The benefits don’t stop there.

Reusable bag handles are:

  • Stronger.  Paper and plastic bag handles tend to break easily.
  • More comfortable.  Carrying a plastic bag full of something heavy can be painful!
  • More versatile.  I’ve even worn these bags on my shoulder while biking or walking home—I couldn’t do this with paper or plastic bags.

Last but not least, many stores (like Roth’s) will give a 5 cent discount for every bag you bring.  The bag pays for itself in no time!

Reusable Bags

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