LEXINGTON — It may sound counterintuitive, but recycling is the last thing one should do with their everyday and household items.
The reason is, according to Keep Lexington Beautiful, people should find ways to reduce the amount of items they use and consume and to find ways to reuse these before they consider recycling anything.
KLB members and Conservation Nebraska held an event at the Lexington Public Library on Thursday, Jan. 30 to show community members and school students different ways they can reduce their carbon footprint and how to reuse household items for new purposes.
According to KLB, reducing a carbon footprint is a step which can be taken on a variety of scales, from one person choosing to do so, a family, a business and all the way up to an entire nation.
A carbon footprint is defined as, “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.”
With the abundance of fossil fuels in question and the specter of climate change looming, groups like KLB are advising people to take new steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Travel by way of internal combustion is a fact of modern living but it is also a major contributor to a person, or nation’s, carbon footprint. KLB asks people to reduce travel relying on consumption of fossil fuels and for people to walk, bike or take public transportation when they are able to.
At home, people can choose to lower their energy bill and their footprint by turning down the heat and turning up the air conditioner temperatures. People can also use other methods in their home to trap heat, or keep it out, depending on the season.
When it comes to eating, KLB asks people to eat less meat and choosing grass fed meat if they do choose to eat it. Chicken is preferred over beef and choose to shop local when buying meat, KLB said.
Plan meals out at the start of the week to avoid waste, and compost whatever food waste is left over, rather than throwing it out.
Water consumption is not just something people do through their faucet, bathtub or toilet. According to KLB, it takes around 680,000 gallons of water in the entire process of placing a meal on the table for a family of four.
KLB advises people to turn off the tap whenever possible and to use non-toxic cleaners.
When purchasing goods, like clothing, considering buying from a fair trade source or buying secondhand. Also donate items whenever possible, rather than throwing them out.
Plastics should be avoided whenever possible, large contributors to plastic waste are single use plastic bags at grocery stores. The bags at the counter are not the only ones people only use for a single use, the bags which people use to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables are often only used once before being disposed.
Consider purchasing reusable bags for both carrying bulk groceries and fresh, not bagged items.
The three word mantra of KLB, in order of importance is to,
“Do all you can before you recycle,” KLB says.
Carbon footprint calculators are available online for people to see how large their footprint is.
During the remainder of the event at the Lexington Public Library, KLB members showed those in attendance how to make grocery bags out of old shirts, how to create homemade deodorant and all natural home cleaners.
KLB has been working since 1996 to help people reduce, reuse and recycle. They operate five recycling trailers, at all the school campus locations in Lexington.