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Karen with Friends of the Malden River shares her ‘Waste Diet’

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  Every step we take to reduce our impact on the environment helps to create a healthier environment and community for us and the next generations. There are many suggestions to help you decide what will work for you and your family.

  Suss out the Trash: It is yours, mine and ours! Take a look at what you throw away & think about how you might significantly reduce it. (e.g., reduce single use packaging; refuse single use plastics: bottles, utensils, etc.); bring your own takeout containers for leftovers; avoid purchasing with excess packaging). Assess your Waste. Can you avoid certain packaging or products? (For instance: Do you have to buy bagged vegetables or can you fill your own vegetable bag with loose products?) Refuse Styrofoam to the best of your ability.

  The trash doesn’t disappear; it reappears. How do you see what we throw away come back to haunt us? Research your Reality. How is your trash dumped? The reality: It is in landfills or in incinerators. How toxic is that landfill and have you thought about that community and ecosystem? How do they get rid of the toxic ash from the incinerators? Follow and speak up for legislation that will protect neighborhoods and the planet. Trash that is not properly contained eventually lands in our waterways.

  Go on “Waste Diet.” Small daily lifestyle changes make big timely differences! Use reusable mugs, cups, napkins, shopping bags, vegetable bags, water bottles. Eliminate Single Use Plastics to the best of your ability. Refuse Styrofoam! Use your imagination of how to reduce your waste; compost or use compost services. Share the love of reduction

  Flex your consumer and political power! Buy thoughtfully and thank those who truly act in favor of our planet. Let’s pass a Green Amendment in Massachusetts: “At this moment, constitutional green amendments that protect the rights of all people to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, are advancing in states across our nation. Among the states with active green amendment campaigns are Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Washington.” (There is a Massachusetts Legislative movement to reduce waste: Zero Waste Caucus.)

  Buy less; Save More! The first question before purchasing should be, “Do I really need this?” Give the Gifts of Experience: Outings, Museums, Meals.

  Make more! No Green Washing there! Do you need to buy processed food in single use packaging? It is proven that packaged processed food is not good for your gut or the earth.

  Buy local! Check how far your foods and goods are travelling before they reach your home.

  Embrace Discomfort and Inconvenience. Turn down the heat and put on a sweater, bring your own coffee cup, containers and shopping bags; choose reusable over disposable.

  Be grounded with strong roots! Have fun with your challenges…Bring it on! Live your environment. Simplify, simplify, simplify and model for the next generation.

  Thank You for making a step towards reducing! Every step makes a difference! Every Question is a good one – that means someone else is wondering the same question. Ask!!

  One popular question: Firstly, plastic recycling is propaganda written by the plastic companies to push the responsibility of plastic disposals onto the consumers and the municipalities. It was incorporated to reduce our “guilt of consumption.” Secondly, remember that plastic is made from fossil fuel (petroleum) (https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/897692090/how-big-oil-misled-the-public-into-believing-plastic-would-be-recycled).

  Do our efforts for recycling pay off? Yes, only if we put the effort into proper recycling. Contaminated recycling is worthless. We used to be able to ship off our worthless recycling to other countries – that enabled bad recycling behavior.

  Check out Malden’s Waste Wizard to answer most questions about recyclables in Malden’s waste stream: https://www.cityofmalden.org/241/Waste-Wizard. Not all recyclables are curbside recyclables! Here is a source and there are many more sources as to where to recycle non-curbside recyclables: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/how-where-to-recycle.

  I do want to emphasize this is not just a Malden River problem and that our work is reducing the amount of trash in our waterways – this is a global travesty of how our waters are polluted with stormwater runoff. We see the trash flow into the waters, but what we don’t see are the pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, automobile fluids, soaps, microplastics, PFAS (a pervasive group of chemicals used in many products), etc. that are washed into the waterways from our yards and parking lots.

  Editor’s Note: Karen Buck is a local resident. Often working alone or with her children, Karen began removing the trash that collects along the banks of the Malden River. Now, years later, Karen takes hundreds of volunteers out onto the river, and the community has begun to adopt the Malden River as their own. You can watch more of her stories at https://www.turnaround-films.com/1-2-karenbuck.

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