Saving the Earth Doesn’t Have to Feel Like the End of the World

Veterans clothing donations

Some people don’t think much about the state of our planet. Some acknowledge that there are issues, but are quick to shrug them off, convinced that there isn’t anything that they can do. Can one individual really actually make a difference anyway? The answer is quite simple. It only takes one person at a time to start changing the way things are. If no one ever decides to actively work on changing something, then obviously nothing will change. But start making changes, no matter how insignificant those changes may seem, and progress can catch fire and spread. Making a difference can be contagious.

How can you begin to make a difference?
You can start making changes anywhere, in just about any area of your life. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 75% of solid waste is indeed recyclable, while just around 30% of it actually gets recycled. So much of what we mindlessly toss out could more productively have ended up elsewhere. Every year this country creates 21.5 million tons of food waste. If all of that was composted instead of thrown away, we could effectively reduce greenhouse gasses that would be the equivalent of subtracting 2 million cars from the roadways. And if everyone attempting to keep up with current events would recycle even one-tenth of the newspapers they read, we could keep around 25 million trees standing every single year. There is so much that can be done to save the Earth, and some of it can even help out those in need.

What does saving the Earth and helping the needy have in common?
The answer to that question is quite simply: you. We all have extra articles of clothing in our closets that we never wear or even really look at. The fact is we could probably all fill a box right now and label it “charitable donations.” We are a bit of a hoarding nation, and that inevitably leads to excess trash. Just in the United States, around 12 million tons of textile waste, including clothing, are thrown out each and every year. It was estimated in 2011 that 90% of the clothing that was disposed of in the U.S. could have easily been reused or at least recycled. That same year, around 2 million tons of clothing were either recycled or donated, to put into perspective the sheer amount that could have been kept from landfills, and used to help a fellow human being. Many communities offer to pick up clothing donations, while others offer convenient drop-off locations. While services that pick up clothing donations are not quite as widespread yet, we could be on the path to making it more accessible around the country and the globe.

We can turn around the habits we’ve created as a species. While we have a lot of work to do and a long road ahead to truly save the planet we inhabit, there are positive aspects that give a hopeful outlook. In 2012, 87 million tons of material were either recycled or composted within the nation. Word is spreading that living in a way that is beneficial to the earth doesn’t have to be difficult or inconvenient. It may just start with getting an organization going that will pick up clothing donations within your community. We can all do something.

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