By Amanda Gillooly for GASP
Philosopher William James once said, “Act as though what you do makes a difference. It does.”
With that in mind, your friends at GASP offer you a short guide to how to make small, Earth-friendly changes that can help make a big difference.
Here are four ways to be a sustainability champion in 2024:
1. Reduce your food waste
You might be surprised at how much food waste is driving the climate crisis. Experts say more than a third of all food in the U.S. goes either unsold or uneaten each year, producing 4% of our national greenhouse gas emissions.
When that food waste begins decaying in your local landfill, it releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. About one-sixth of our methane emissions stem from wasted food.
Fortunately, local food waste warriors can help you tackle the problem.
Hazelwood-based involveMINT transforms food scraps into renewable energy, nutrient-rich fertilizer and locally-grown produce for the community. Swing by their community compost site on Sylvan Avenue and grab a five-gallon bucket. Take it home, fill it with food scraps and return it to the site. Learn about all the ways you can help by searching for “involvePGH” on Facebook.
Local nonprofit 412FoodRescue.org keeps food out of the waste stream by redirecting it to people experiencing food insecurity. Since its inception, the organization and a team of volunteers have rescued millions of pounds of food. And all those food rescues made a big air quality impact, helping to mitigate tens of millions of pounds of CO2 emissions.
Another option is Worm Return, a paid service that picks up food waste and turns it into organic fertilizer. Visit www.wormreturn.com to learn more.
If that won’t work for you, consider getting into the composting game in your own garden.
2. Learn to mend your clothes
It’s no big deal tossing a worn or torn item of clothing in the trash, right? Wrong! Even if you can afford to replace your clothes, throwing out clothes contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. People produced that garment — usually for little pay — it was shipped around the world, and it will either be incinerated or sit in a landfill, producing even more emissions.
Experts estimate that the fashion industry is responsible for nearly 10% of annual global emissions. The best way to combat it is to change your buying habits.
Adopting the “mend and make do” approach can both save you money and help the environment.
Getting started is easy! Check out this tutorial at thecommons.earth/blog/
mending-clothing-101. For clothes you can’t mend, learn how to keep donated clothes out of landfills at wayforth.com/blog/moving-solutions-b2c/4-ways-to-ensure-donated-clothes-dont-end-up-in-a-landfill.
3. Say no to single-use plastics
In what should be news to nobody, we have a plastics problem globally. The statistics about our reliance on single-use plastics are staggering.
Did you know that only 9% of all plastics produced each year are recycled?
Worldwide, 22 million plastic shopping bags are used each minute. More than a third of plastics produced every year end up in our oceans and 75% of beach litter globally is — you guessed it — plastic.
Fortunately, we have local organizations dedicated to eliminating single-use plastics. Learn more by visiting Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastics at pasupnow.org.
4. Get involved!
As poet James Russell Lowell once said, “All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.” This year, we hope you’ll continue to take action alongside us. Because when it comes to improving our air quality, we still have a long way to go. Together we have and will continue to make a difference. Visit www.gasp-pgh.org to learn more and get involved in what we do!
Amanda Gillooly is communications manager for GASP. Email her your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.