Green trash can with a recycling tag that says Texas State Recycling in black with a white paper background

Reducing the Waste in Life

By Timia Cobb
Web Content Contributor

Using a metal straw to sip a Starbucks grande chocolate chip frappuccino is a contradiction. The intent was good but it isn’t changing the fact that the container is made of plastic and that many companies like starbucks don’t have problems when recycling straws but do when it comes to their cups.

Big companies sometimes don’t even consider recycling because it takes too much time or work,which is ridiculous seeing recycling could actually save more money. Nonetheless, this leaves the job of reducing waste and recycling to the consumers, us. Reducing the amount of waste used on a daily basis might seem like a lot of work or expensive but it can be easier than believed.

Recycling can be easy if you actually know how to do it correctly. It all comes down to basic everyday choices and using available resources. San Marcos and other cities tend to have recycling centers available to their communities to make the choice of recycling easier.

The Green Buy Recycling Center in San Marcos allows anyone to drop off their household recyclable trash for free, however if you’re wanting to recycle scrap metal, TVs, computer monitors or anything a magnet could stick to than you might be charged a fee depending on the amount of what it is. This center is predominantly used by homeowners in the San Marcos area because apartments and dorms usually provide recycling. If you weren’t aware of this ask someone who works at your dorm or apartment complex about recycling options.

Red and yellow bins sit next to each other with the words Texas State Department of Housing and Residential Life in white letters written in the center of the bin.
Recycling bins that each Texas State dorm resident is given when moving into their dorm. Photo by Timia Cobb.

Reducing the amount of waste you use can be amazingly beneficial to the environment. The first thing is to start using reusable containers. This is an effortless change because it is somewhat becoming a trend. For example the recent rise of hydro flasks might seem annoying because of the amount of vsco girls constantly bragging about having them but it’s actually a good cause.

Just one Hydro Flask or any reusable water bottle can save 1,460 plastic bottles of water from being used a year. Using reusable plates, kitchen utensils and generally eating at home can help reduce the amount of waste you produce.

The biggest change I recently made was purchasing a Brita filter instead of repeatedly buying packaged water. As a college student buying a 30 pack of bottled water for two dollars was an easier decision for my wallet to handle than spending 20 dollars on a filter. However, after finally deciding to make the change I don’t regret it. Constantly buying water gets tiring and is incredibly wasteful compared to getting a water filter and trading out replacement filters every couple of months. Multiple brands of water filters can be bought at stores such as Walmart, Target and HEB.

Clear water filter next to a metallic pink water bottle decorated with stickers
Heb water filter and reusable metal water bottle that can be used to reduce the use of plastic. Photo by Timia Cobb.

Choosing to recycle and reduce waste is a choice but having resources in your community can be a privilege. San Marcos and Texas in general don’t have many commonly known grocery stores that allow customers to bring their own containers or have buy-in-bulk options.You always have the option to bring your own bag but what about limiting the plastic that deli’s use to wrap whatever you buy? Being able to bring your own container helps in this situation.

Buying in bulk is also just easier and helpful, you can choose what you want, the amount you need and all while producing less waste. San Marcos sadly doesn’t have a store that allows you to buy produce, fruit and most packaged food in bulk. The only thing you could get close to buying food in bulk is the local Sams Club.

However, a quick solution to this is using the advantages of your community. San Marcos proudly has its own farmers market where you can support local businesses, pick and choose what you want while having the option to bring your own containers. The farmers market happens every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the courthouse on The Square and every Tuesday from 3p.m. to 6 p.m. at the railroad tracks between Edward Gary and CM Allen. For more information you can follow them on Facebook or go to their website http://sanmarcosfarmersmarket.com/.

You could also switch to using biodegradable products but making the decision to start using biodegradables can be confusing. For one, not everyone knows what it means for something to be biodegradable. According to Webstaurant store blog, “a product is biodegradable when it can be broken down into natural elements: carbon dioxide, and water vapor by organisms like bacteria and fungi”.

For the most part anything can be biodegradable but can take different lengths of time during the decompensation process. For instance an apple core can take up to 2 months to decompose versus 50 years for a tin can. Choosing to live using biodegradable means making the change to make the natural process of decomposition easier and having the natural elements in the product you used safely be returned to the earth.

There are many companies today that sell everyday biodegradable products such as cups, plates, feminene products, clothes, paper towels, dish soap and even tooth brushes. The best part is they aren’t expensive because their companies mission isn’t to make money but to be funded enough to keep making their products and reduce the amount of non biodegradable products that are used regularly. You can make the switch by reading this article on 48 Eco Friendly Products You Can Buy Today to Help Stop Plastic Pollution, the article share tips on where to buy eco friendly products and what companies you can get them from.

Living in a country that is obviously having a climate and natural resources problem with no plans to solve it isn’t ideal. Choosing to produce less waste might seem like it won’t change anything but it can and it’s better than not doing anything. You don’t have to take drastic changes in life but maybe think about using paper instead of plastic the next time at your local grocery store or even bringing your own reusable bag.

Featured image by Timia Cobb.

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