Beginner's Guide to Reducing Waste & Saving the Planet

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Beginner's Guide to Reducing Waste & Saving the Planet Shelby Robin

Beginner's Guide to Reducing Waste & Saving the Planet

Shelby Robin NEU Fall 2018

Contents 2 How Wasteful are You? 4 State of our Planet 6 Food & Packaging 8 Recycling Explained 10 Personal Hygiene 12 Make your Own! 14 Q&A with Annie Lee 16 Period Supplies 18 Clothes & Fashion 20 Challenges & Self Reflection 22 Sources & Colophon

We all love the planet earth and want to do the best we can to take care of it. But that can be hard and overwhelming. This book is a good place to start.

How Wasteful are You? Take this quiz to see how wasteful you are in your day-to-day life. We all have room for improvement and you would be surprised to see how lots of little things that can add up to a big impact.


When do you repurchase school supplies?

away my old supplies aand. I throw get new things every year. I love starting the year with new binders and pens!

. I get a few new things every byear and reuse some supplies from the previous year.

I run out or things care. Whenever falling apart I replace them. How often do you recycle?

. Infrequently. I am always atossing things in the trash. though I rarely bgo. Sometimes, out of my way to do so. recycle whenever . I try toand cpossible also try to reuse

Your clothes are...

. Mostly from fast fashion astores like Forever 21, H&M, and a lot of them are less than a year old. New and old items from ba.variety of stores. Some are

impulse purchases and some I invested in and plan to keep for a while. hand-me-downs, cor. Thrifted, pieces purchased from

companies that I know practice sustainability. How do you get to school?

What do you pack for your lunch at school?

. I almost always buy lunch at aschool, it's just easiest! bring a lunch in a paper bag, bbut. I will often buy food if I am running late or forget.

pack lunch in my . I always clunch box and tupperware containers. Where do your leftovers from dinner go?

take too much food athat. I often I can’t finish it so it ends up in the trash.

over recycle.

a. My mom drives me by myself. b. I carpool with my neighbors. walk, take the school cbus. I bike, or, public transit.

Mostly A’s

Mostly B’s

Mostly C’s:

Don't Care Darla

Convenience Carla

So Green Gabby

You’ve got some room to improve, but that's okay! You are at the right place to start making some changes. Let this book be your guide.

You do what's best for the planet – but only when it's convenient. This book will help you find eco-friendly habits that fit into your lifestyle.

You go girl! You are making strides to help the planet already. Keep reading to find some new planet saving changes that you can make.

. I try to finish my plate, but bwhen I don't, I put the leftovers in the fridge. Though usually it ends up getting thrown out. them in a tupperware cand. I put eat it the next day.


State of our Planet Air The current state of the planet isn't great. These stats will help you understand how human actions have affected earth's air, land, and oceans.

Temperature The temperature of the planet is rising on average 2.7–3.2° Fahrenheit per century. Weather Of the 31.1 mi people displaced in 2016, 76% were because of weather-related events. Air Quality 2 mi people are killed worldwide every year due to air pollution.

Land Waste Every American generates an average of 4.4 pounds of waste a day, 1.51 pounds of which are recycled or composted.

Food Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted.

Consumer Goods 99% of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, and transport is trashed within 6 months.

Deforestation 18 mi acres of forest are lost each year and it is estimated that within 100 years there won't be any rainforests.

Wildlife In the last 500 years, human activity has forced over 800 species into extinction. Livestock A quarter-pound of beef requires 52.5 gallons of water for the cow to drink and to water the crops to feed the cow.

Water Water Usage Americans uses an average of 88 gallons of water a day at home.


Ocean Pollution 9 mi tons of plastic enter the oceans every year.

Sea Level Sea level rises at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.

Does knowing this make you think about any of your actions?

Which fact surprised you the most? The Least? How come?

Did you know pollution & waste affects the air, land, and water?

This has made me realize...


Food & Packaging Cooking Food waste and food packaging waste are two areas that are easiest to see where we, as individuals, can improve. Not only is reducing waste in these areas good for the planet, it is good for you! Read on to see how a less wasteful lifestyle can leave you eating healthier and spending less money.


By cooking for yourself, you create less waste than you would eating out, you spend less money, and you know exactly what is in your food! Avoid buying food that comes in single use plastic packaging and try to cook with more whole fruits, vegetables, and things you can buy in bulk, like rice.




A difficult part about creating less waste with food is when you are out and need to eat. Packing lunch to bring to school is a great place to start. You can use a lunch box and tupperware, and even bring utensils! For snacks, you can try making your own granola bars, or pack a piece of fruit.

Replace buying plastic water bottles, paper cups of coffee, and cans of soda with purchasing a reusable cup to put drinks in. With water especially, you will save money and carrying around a water bottle will get you in the habit of staying more hydrated, which is always a good thing!

Take-out and fast food can create a lot of waste. The food comes with containers, bags, plastic utensils, and paper napkins. When you do order take-out to bring home, avoid taking utensils and napkins that you already have at home. Even better, if you cut down on takeout, you will save money and eat healthier.

Recycling Explained What is recycling? At a basic level, recycling is when you reuse or repurpose something instead of tossing it out. On a larger scale, it is collecting goods and converting them back into raw materials to make new things.

Landfills cause pollution because of the chemicals put into them, as well as the breakdown of garbage that causes more chemicals to be released. This all becomes liquid toxins called leachate. Leachate can then contaminate our water sources.


Why is recycling necessary? Recycling is necessary because items are often produced cheaply, so it is actually more economic to throw away our old belongings and purchase new items. This can create environmental issues.

What happens to a recycled can?

Cans are put into a recycling bin and then brought to a processing facility.

Magnet lifts out steel cans, and aluminum cans drop down to a conveyor belt and are gathered.

Aluminum cans are shredded, washed, and turned into aluminum chips.

The chips are melted and poured into molds called "ingots."

The ingots are melted into rolls of thin sheets.

The sheets are made into new products, such as new aluminum cans!

Paper Boxes Magazines Newspapers Drink Cartons Mail

Metal Aluminum Cans & Foil Steel Cans & Tin Cans

Glass Clear, Brown, & Green Glass

Batteries & Lightbulbs Household & Rechargeable Batteries Incandescent, Led, Compact, & Fluorescent Bulbs

Electronics Computers Monitors Keyboards Photocopiers Printers Televisions Stereos Phones

What can be recycled? Plastic Bottles Jars Jugs

Plastic, Paper, and Metal that had food in them needs to be cleaned before recycling. One unwashed item can contaminate a whole bale of items and result in none of them being recycled.

Plastic Bags need to be brought to grocery store that collects plastic bags to be recycled. Glass containing stones, dirt, ceramics, and heat resistant glass, or mirror and window glass can't be recycled.

Batteries, lightbulbs, and electronics, need to be brought to specific places to be recycled. Check with your local recycling center to find out where in your area.


Personal Hygiene Personal hygiene is definitely necessary, we are not suggesting it isn't! But, a lot of product waste and water waste goes into keeping ourselves squeaky clean. It's good to think about how we can cut back and what can be implemented in our daily life to create less waste.

Every product you use in the shower is a bottle that most likely ends up in a landfill. The simpler your shower routine, the better for the planet.


Water Waste

Bars over Bottles

Sustainable Switches

Showering, bathing, washing your hands, face, and brushing your teeth, all use water. Though you may live where water feels plentiful, wasting it is still using up a vital resource on our planet that not everyone has abundant access to. Try picking two or three songs to listen to in the shower and be finished by the end of the last song!

Bars of soap are great because they often come in very little packaging (often just a piece of paper) so they don't create much waste, unlike bottles of body wash. You can also buy bars of shampoo and conditioner! In general, reducing the amount of products you use leads to less waste, and buying in bulk is preferable to lots of little bottles.

Beyond bars of soap, there are lots of small changes we can make to be more sustainable. Switch out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush that is compostable! You an also switch out your loofah for a natural bath sponge. If you are a bath person, it might be worth switching some of those for showers, because showers uses less water.

Brushing teeth: If you leave water running, that uses 4 gallons. Turning water off while not rinsing uses about .25 gallons. gallons x per day =

Total gallons of water used per day:

How much water do you use in a day? Showering uses 3 gallons per minute, so the longer the shower, the more water used. Baths use about 36 gallons of water per bath. Showers: 3 gallons x

minutes =

Bath: 36 gallons x

bath(s) =

Washing Face / Hands: If you leave water running, that uses 4 gallons. Turning water off while not rinsing uses about 1 gallon. gallons x per day =


Make your Own! All the products we buy come in packaging that ends up getting tossed. And things like deodorant and toothpaste often contain ingredients that are not healthy for our bodies. Switching out one of these products with a DIY recipe can save you money, reduce waste, and be healthier for your body!




Toothpaste tubes are near impossible to recycle, so making your own toothpaste is a great way to avoid the problem all together!

Deodorant is an offender for having chemicals as ingredients, such as aluminum and artificial colors. The containers are also tricky to recycle.

Ingredients: 2 tbsp of coconut oil 1 tbsp of baking soda 15-20 drops of essential oil (peppermint, cinnamon, spearmint, whatever you prefer!)

Ingredients: 2 tbsp of arrowroot powder 1 tbsp of baking soda 1 tbsp pf coconut oil 1 tbsp of shea butter

Directions: Stir all together in a mason jar.

Directions: Melt ingredients together over a double boiler. Then, add essential oil for fragrance. Pour into mason jar and put in fridge for 20 minutes.

Whipped Body Butter Skincare can be expensive and often contain toxins. Try out this whipped body butter recipe to cut down on one thing. Ingredients: 2 tbsp coconut oil 2 tbsp shea butter 2 tbsp cocoa butter 2 tbsp sweet almond oil Directions: Melt ingredients together over a double boiler. Put in fridge for about an hour. Whip for 5-10min, add essential oils, and put into mason jar.

Mason jars are a common theme here because they are an easy and cute option for re-usable packaging!



with Annie Lee about her going green journey

Annie Lee is a 22-year old Bostonian about to graduate from college. At the beginning of her college career she felt like her lifestyle did not do much to help the environment and she has been taking strides ever since to be more thoughtful about her choices! Annie knows being green is a work in progress and she is always trying to improve.

What was your first introduction to living a more green life? As a freshman at Emerson college, I lived in the "Living Green Community." There, I was exposed to how to include environmentally impactful things into my life. We had a session on diva cups, (before it was even popular) because my RA loved them, and I have used one ever since! I was really surrounded with people with that same mindset: trying to compost and recycle, stuff like that! Where do you find your inspiration to be green? I find a lot of inspo on Instagram. @frommybowl is a great place to start! She posts a lot about her daily life of eating healthy and being environmentally friendly.


What habits are you trying to break that are not eco-friendly? I am trying to bring my own produce bags for groceries, instead of using plastic ones. Also, this may sound silly, but I am still trying to remember to bring reusable bags to grocery stores (no one is perfect!). I try to keep an extra reusable bag in my backpack in case I forget. Another thing I do to reduce the waste I create is making my own iced coffee, instead of buying it. This way, I am using less plastic cups and straws.

What was the first step you took to being more eco-friendly?

Do you have any ways that you see being eco-friendly has made your life easier?

I would say my first step was research. Making sure I was educated on what the issues were, so I could make informed choices. I also got involved in organizations that were doing things to help the environment. To people at the beginning of their eco-friendly journey, I would encourage they educate themselves as well. It's so helpful to be informed!

Using the diva cup. Honestly makes it feel like I am not even having my period! Your actions are affecting the planet positively – how are they affecting your life positively? Firstly, it feels great to know I am doing what I can to help the planet. Secondly, I have found new hobbies I didn't have before, such as thrift shopping for new clothes, and trying vegan recipes!

I also realized I am in the habit of grabbing the paper towels to dry my hands in public bathrooms, and I am trying to break that habit by using the air-dryer more often. I think that making little changes can really make a big difference!

"To people at the beginning of their eco-friendly journey, I would encourage them to educate themselves as well. It's so helpful to be informed!"


Period Supplies Pads & Tampons One area of personal hygiene that can cause a lot of waste is menstruation supplies. Pads, tampons, and all the wrappings and packagings that come with them. And that can feel like the only option, but it isn't! Here are some other ways to manage your time of the month and maybe even make your period a little more tolerable!

Everyone is different, but it has been found that the average amount of tampon and pad use is 15.2 per period.


Most people's first introduction to menstruation involves using either pads or tampons, and they seem like the only option, but they aren't! There are some great things about pads and tampons, and some less great things. Pros: Convenient Low up front costs Wide spread availability Lasts 8 hours Cons: Small learning curve Often made with toxins Create lots of waste Over time become expensive

Period Proof Underwear

Reusable Pads & Liners

Menstruation Cup

There are now companies like Thinx making "period proof underwear." These are underwear you can wear during your period instead of a pad. For people who like pads, this could be a great and greener option!

If you are used to pads, reusable pads and panty liners could be a super great switch. They are basically the same as using a one time use pad, except you can wash and reuse! Check out Glad Rags' website to learn more.

Menstruation cups, also known as Diva cups, have a bit of a learning curve, but the benefits outweigh them! Once you get used to using one, you can keep it in all day, and basically forget about your period.

Pros: Minimal waste (reusable!) Easy to use Comfortable Convenient Cheaper option over time

Pros: Minimal waste (reusable!) Easy to use All cotton & no toxins Cheaper option over time

Pros: Minimal waste (reusable!) Cheaper option over time Lasts for 12 hours

Cons: Higher up front cost Requires routine washing

Higher up front cost Requires routine washing


Cons: Higher up front cost Higher learning curve Requires routine washing

They require routine washing, but these options create less waste, and are made of materials healthier for your body.


Clothes & Fashion What brands can do 70% of global emissions are caused by just 100 companies. This doesn't mean our individual actions don't matter, but it does mean it is important to think about what companies we are supporting. The fashion industry has started making strides to improve its environmental, so it is great to get to support the companies making those changes. But, we should also find other ways to improve our fashion practices.

Sustainably Sourced Materials The best option for sourcing materials is using vintage, discarded, or recycled fabrics. The second best is using new fabrics that are made in the most sustainable way. Plant-Based Fabrics Linen, silk, cotton, wool, and hemp are examples of plant-based fabrics. These are better for the planet because they are made from renewable resources, and are more ecofriendly to manufactured. Vegan Leather and fur are made from animals that need to be raised for the product to be produced. That requires lots of resources, such as water, so it's not the most environmentally friendly option. Luckily there are lots of vegan leather options. Made in the USA When clothing is made in the USA, that means our laws are protecting the factory workers in the clothings' production. Also, it means the clothing travels less of a distance to get to you. Fair Trade Certified If a company is fair trade certified, that means they are committed to treating employees and the planet well with the production of their goods.


What you can do Donate Clothes One super easy thing you can do is donate your clothes instead of throwing them out! This avoids more clothing ending up in landfills. Thrift Shopping The most sustainable shopping option is thrift shopping. Plus, you are giving old clothes a new life! You will be surprised at what you can discover.

Clothing Swap Another great shopping option is to do a clothing swap with your friends! That way, you can get rid of old items you no longer like, and find new things that your friends are not loving as much anymore. It's a win-win! Sustainable Brands If you are going to buy new clothes, the best option is to find sustainable brands. Read the list on the left page to find out how to know if a brand is sustainable.

Invest Lastly, when you do buy new clothes, pick items that are investments that you know you will keep in your wardrobe a long time. This is especially relevant once you are done growing. It's a better option than impulse buying clothes that you end up not loving for very long.


Challenges & Self Reflection There are always ways to continue to improve your lifestyle to help the planet more. If you are looking for more challenges to incorporate into your daily life, read on!

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Instead of using plastic straws, invest in a metal or glass straw that you can reuse.

Start composting instead of throwing away food waste in your home. Composting allows food to become dirt, so it's much better for the planet.

Only make replacement purchases when an item gets lost or broken, not just to have the newest thing, especially when it comes to technology.

Cut down on the time you are in the shower to under 5 minutes. The shorter the better!

Eliminate using napkins by replacing them with towels or handkerchiefs.

Instead of wrapping presents in wrapping paper, use old grocery bags and decorate them.

Bring with you a set of utensils and use them instead of plastic utensils that usually get thrown away after only one use.

Make the extra effort to recycle and reuse paper, instead of tossing it out. Also, save scrap paper for art projects! Ask for email receipts instead of printed ones. Donate things you no longer need or want, rather than throwing away.


Set some eco-friendly life goals for yourself for the next year. Check in later and see how you did. The best way to work towards helping the planet is to set reasonable and concrete goals.








Sources Interested in learning more? Below are the sources used to write this book. Much more information can be found here if you are looking to continue learning! Water Facts

Zero Waste Movement

Recycling Watersense Statistics and facts The Ultimate List of Zero Waste Swaps How Recycling Works, Average Shower Length Flowchart State of the Planet What Can I Recycle? How to Prevent Waste

Period Waste Earth Day 2018: The 10 Most Pressing Environmental Concerns Facing Our Planet


Why is Waste a Problem? Is Sea Level Rising? Story Of Stuff, Referenced and Annotated Script by Annie Leonard Rio+20: Ocean and Coastal Sustainability

22 Tampon Use in Young Women Fashion How to Tell if Your Clothes are Ethically Made

Colophon Shelby Robin designed, illustrated, and hand-bound this book for her capstone project at Northeastern University in Fall 2018. Distribution Of Human Waste Samples in Relation to Sizing Waste Processing in Space

Typefaces Museo Rounded Shelby Handletter Paper Wausau Paper, Astrobrights Stardust White 24/60lb text

We all love the planet earth and want to do the best we can to take care of it. But that can be hard and overwhelming. This book is a good place to start.