NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Friday is officially Earth Day, but it doesn't take a holiday to inspire the reduce, reuse, recycle mindset.
For many people, reducing the carbon footprint means trying to recycle as much as they can, from cardboard to paper and plastic. But for those that find recycling to be less convenient, there are easier ways to cut back on using materials that will just wind up in a landfill.
Five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year. And after throwing out the bags, they can last where they land for as long as 500 years.
To reduce those numbers, reusable silicone bags are an easy option. They’re made from silica, a natural and abundant element found in sand and rock. The bags do cost more up front, but can be easily tossed in the dishwasher or washed by hand.
But before feeling the need to buy anything new, it's possible there are items at home already that can be reused.
“You can just use whatever you have at home already, so reuse those plastic tupperware containers, reuse your mason jars,” said Perry Santanachote, editor of Consumer Reports.
Like with all food storage, the idea is to reduce food waste. For the inedible parts of our food, composting is an option.
“Many of these require worms and microbes that help break down the foods you’re scrapping. But there’s also the ick factor: they smell; they can attract pests,” Santanachote said.
The Vitamix Food Cycler skips the worms and just grinds and breaks down food in about 3 to 8 hours. After that, it will break down faster in landfills.
“For the most high-quality compost — the kind of stuff that you want to use for your plants and your garden — you’re gonna want to go with worms,” said Santanachote.
The Urban Worm Bag is a convenient and easy to use option that can handle 6 pounds of food scraps.
And finally, when grocery shopping, instead of using the store's plastic bags each time, experts recommend considering reusable cloth bags.