Not bee-related, but important nevertheless.
Consumers have something called “buying power” that they can exert on retail markets and can make environmentally responsible choices on a daily basis. The only sticking point is when a better option is not available, the consumer should then question whether buying the product is actually necessary. In addition to being more aware, the consumer can also be happy about the fact that they are indeed making a difference. Now, I’m nowhere near on any high horse here, but these are several examples of how I buy and why:
1. Chewing Gum: it’s getting harder and harder these days to find gum that isn’t packaged in those infuriating and truly unnecessary blister packs.The chewing gum itself is a rather pointless commodity that lasts a mere few hours, while its packaging, once emptied, lasts for decades in the dump.
Solution: There are still a few varieties that I treat myself to when I come across them…and wait until I do to buy gum. The first are those bulk Clorets boxes; loose chiclets that come in a cardboard box, and surprisingly doesn’t come sealed in those thin plastic wraps you see floating in the wind or on top of a puddle. Sometimes I might be fortunate enough to find Wrigley’s Double Mint or Big Red; sticks of gum that come in a cardboard casing, and are wrapped in tin foil.
2. Lighters: ok, so those plastic lighters come in all sorts of nifty colours and groovy designs, and might give you an edge over recovering your lighter from a sticky-fingered friend who is notorious for “borrowing” your lighters. Unfortunately, these lighters are made of really thick plastic and are typically non-refillable, so they get tossed in the garbage where many of them make their way into our water ecosystem. Sadly, due to their buoyancy and bright colours these hunks o’ junk are mistaken as food by many aquatic critters like birds and fish. If you haven’t seen the appalling consequences of adult albatrosses feeding these lighters to their young, then have a look here
Solution: Buy matches! Use a refillable lighter!
3. If you had a gander at the photos, you’ll also notice that the albatross chicks were fed a wide variety of other plastics, one being disposable tampon applicators. The environmental and economic benefits to using menstrual cups should be made known to everybody, so that even a father may educate his daughter about the benefits of using one.
Solution: Menstrual cups and here’s the short list why:
i. There is zero waste or plastics used, which can add up over the span of each of those 5 days, month after month, year after year. ii. Absolutely no risk of toxic shock syndrome and no risk of the highly unpleasant chaffed, stinky “pad crotch”. iii. These cups last for several years as long as you clean them properly. After spending an initial $40 or so, you’re saving money by the 3rd month! iv. It’s really hard on your septic tank when you flush those ol’ tampons down your toilet.
4. It may seem as though I actually like plastic bags based on the amount that I hoard under my kitchen sink, but I don’t. I reuse plastic bread bags when I clean out my cat’s litter, which is yet another way I can put that plastic bag to use before it goes to the landfill.
There are many more ways consumers can use their buying power to reduce landfill waste, like not buying bottled water, employing a reusable coffee mug, and using cloth/paper bags. Feel free to comment on ways you have been part of the solution too.