As we began to think about New Year’s Resolutions, we found ourselves focusing on one simple concept: waste. Millions of pounds of waste are transported, buried, and burned in the United States every day. Many people recycle with good intentions, but recycled goods often end up in landfills. Methane gas from landfills leeches into our soil, water, and air. Burning trash results in smog, acid rain, and trace amounts of toxics such as mercury compounds and dioxins. In 2015, a landslide of construction waste in China killed seventy-three people.

Put simply, waste is a harmful process, and it’s ongoing.

With all this in mind, we found ourselves asking:

What can we do? How can we make small changes in our homes and a greater impact in our community?

Hence, our guide Go Green in 2018, 10 Days of Eco-Friendly Resolutions. We’ve created ten resolutions to enact change right now; there’s no better time for positive change than the new year. Although this guide focuses on trash reduction, this is not a guide to going trash-free. We want to be realistic and practical here, especially given that this guide is limited in scope and time.

Over the course of ten days, subscribers will receive a challenge, facts, and context each day. We invite you to subscribe and to journey along with us.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we began this process without including one of the central tenets of the Dominican charism: community. So, we created our first-ever Facebook group for everyone who’s receiving these daily resolutions (read: you). It’s a place to share, commiserate, encourage, and inspire. Please drop by and introduce yourself. We can’t wait to welcome you into the Go Green in 2018 community. 

If your mind is still in the gutter (or the sewer, or the landfill), here’s some extra context on waste management and why it’s so alarming below. These are the facts that have brought us here, now:

Recycling is hardly a sure fix. While recycling has grown in the United States in past years, the increase of recyclable items has meant an increase of people who misunderstand the complicated system. You can recycle plastic bags, but they must go to a separate facility and can’t be mixed into your normal recycling bin. Styrofoam, which is absorbent (read: filled with dirt), flammable, and hard to break down, can’t be mixed in with your other recyclables, either. And, even though your innocent, cardboard pizza box seems recyclable enough, the grease that’s embedded in it has rendered it trash.

With so many factorsit’s hard to keep track of what goes where. (Is your recyclable paper coffee cup coated in a thin film of plastic? If yes, you can’t recycle that, either.) The result, even for the best intentioned among us, is more waste.

Why Should We Care?

The statistics are dire. Studies have shown a strong association between Hydrogen Sulphide (landfill gas) and deaths caused by lung cancer. Increases in birth defects have been reported near individual landfill sites, and, in some multisite studies, they may indicate real risks associated with residence near certain landfill sites. In some cases, the physical waste has been detrimental.

As Sisters of Hope, though, we’re not interested in fear mongering. That’s why we’re taking scary facts and generating positive change. Join us.