As the new year arrives and the credit card bills from the holidays start rolling in, you may be making promises to yourself about how, this year, you will spend less and save more. By broadening that "save" component to include saving natural resources, you can help both the planet and your wallet.
1. Be wise with your buys. Think before you buy more stuff. You can save lots of money by buying less--no surprise there. One way to apply this principle and reduce trash in our community is to stop buying, or buy fewer, plastic water bottles. Yes, I know they are convenient, but have you ever seen the overflowing trash bins at playing fields in Summit after a game or other event? Stainless steel bottles are an excellent alternative or, for larger events, large coolers of water and recyclable paper cups work well. Another easy and healthy choice--don't idle your car engine, especially near schools. This will save you money on gas and, more importantly, reduce exhaust pollution that aggravates asthma and other respiratory problems, the main cause of school absences. Idling for more than ten seconds wastes more gas than is required for startup.
2. Throw out less. In other words, when you are done with an item, sell it or give it away, so someone else can use it. You can declutter your home and help other Summit residents, young and not-so-young, by donating household items you no longer want. Summit High School students have been running the Summit Free Market (SFM) for several years now. Twice a year (spring and fall), for three consecutive weekends, residents can bring unwanted gently used items to the Transfer Station where other residents can take what they want, all free. In addition to the events, SFM has an online presence for posting items year-round. Also, now is the perfect time to donate books. The Summit College Club is accepting book donations, now through April 2 at Westy's Storage, for a book sale, the proceeds of which fund college scholarships for local women. Of course, selling things on eBay or Craig's List works too.
3. Recycle as much as possible. Summit requires recycling and makes it easy for you with once-a-week curbside recycling as well as our excellent Transfer Station...but you already know that, right? So make it your mission this year to expand what you recycle. Remember your can mix your paper in one bag. For example, in your leftover shopping bag from Macy's, you can combine paper (even with staples), newspapers, catalogs, cereal boxes (take the liner out), paper milk cartons, junk mail and circulars. In your mixed non-paper bin, you can combine glass and plastic bottles, tin and aluminum cans, plastic take-out containers, any plastic with a number in the little triangle on the bottom. Check out Summit's recycling flyer and this article on tricky recycling questions to learn more.
Sounds suspiciously like, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," doesn't it?
There are many, many small changes you can make that will save you money and reduce waste. If the suggestions above don't appeal to you, try looking through the list of articles (with links) written by members and friends of the Summit Environmental Commission, located in the "Environment" section of the City of Summit website. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. So pick just one change and give it a go. Happy New Year!
By Beth Lovejoy, on behalf of the Summit Environmental Commission