Green Corner: The evolving ways of being eco-friendly

Most of us grew up learning to shut the lights off, not to litter and to sort our recyclables from our trash, but has sustainability adjusted with the times? Is there still a store where you can’t find a reusable shopping bag upon checkout? The world has taken a drastic sustainable turn over the last decade and, in some respects, made eco-friendly the norm.

In current times, a recycling bin is automatically placed alongside a trash bin, obligating people to make the responsible choice of sorting their trash and recyclables. According to Earth911.com, curbside recycling is offered to half of the U.S. population today as compared to 1970, when the practice was unheard of. Offering this service has created a change in America’s habits. This year, the U.S. showed a whopping 33.8 percent recycling rate over a 6.6 percent recycling rate in 1970. Clearly modern conveniences, such as roadside recycling pickup, have encouraged a trend of Americans changing their sustainability habits.

Years ago, farming was widely practiced in the interest of feeding one’s family, but more recently, farming has turned into a commercial industry split over one word: organic. According to vegsource.com, commercial farming gained popularity in the 1930s with the discovery of chemical pesticides. Suddenly, farmers were able to protect their crops from weather and bugs, doubling their output. Soon thereafter came the discovery of growth hormones, making bigger veggies and meatier livestock.

Years went by before medical scientists realized the dangers of humans ingesting chemicals, thus the start of the organic generation. A healthy meal forty years ago consisted of lean meat and plenty of veggies; however, today’s generation has given a whole new meaning to what is healthy. Healthy now refers to a pesticide-free, hormone-free, organic meal grown by a local farmer with a sustainable philosophy.

More than anything, we see the advancement of technology having a big effect on human behaviors. According to discovery.com, an estimated 1.7 billion people around the world live off the grid or, in other words, don’t rely on power companies for their electricity. With inventions simplifying the capturing of wind, water and solar energy, this number is increasing drastically, cutting our dependence on fossil fuels.

Technology has also given way to some pretty handy apps. Good Guide is a database full of food, personal care items, household items and other useful tools, which gives them a corresponding score based on sustainable measures. Recyclelist provides categories of items including electronics, household and automotive acessories, and presents local drop off locations to dispose of these items. Finally, summing up our generation’s need for reward, Recyclebank allows people to earn points for green activities and redeem them for prizes.

Fortunately, the world is adapting to the Earth’s needs and evolving into a sustainable society. Although it will take time to get everyone on board, standards are continuing to be set for a more eco-friendly world.

-Stephanie Eppolito

 Lawrenceville Eco-Rep

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