By Erica Bramlet, Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale Coordinator
There are costs to almost everything we do. Should you risk the stomachache and eat that dessert? Should you watch an hour of TV and put off your work or homework until tomorrow? Sustainability is no different, and you can’t really talk about the S word these days without also talking about costs and benefits—economic, health, social, environmental, etc.
Convenience and comfort are two things almost every American is used to, no matter how much we may complain about that parking spot being miiiiiles away from the store. But sometimes when we put an actual value or price on that convenience, feelings change, as hopefully some of yours will as I provide a few examples that recently changed my mind about some not-quite-so-sustainable behaviors.
Sometimes it seems so simple to just have one trash bin and toss everything in. But Bloomington is one of the easiest cities in the country to recycle in. Trash removal costs you $2 per bin, while recycling is free. They even provide you with the recycling bin at no cost! The trash costs may not seem like much, but costs do add up. An example of things adding up before you know it: if every U.S. newspaper were recycled, 250 million beautiful trees could be saved each year. You ask how I know that they’re beautiful? All trees are beautiful, and everyone loves them. Fact. In the end, only about 10-30% of what gets thrown away could not have been recycled or composted, so there is a lot of room for improvement.
Another way to save money while adding some color to your backyard, basement, or pantry is to air or line-dry your clothing. Clothes dryers account for about 6% of your electric bill and wear your clothes out much faster than line drying them, adding to replacement costs. Even in the winter, you can dry your clothes on a rack, possibly near the heater, and it will even help humidify the dry, winter air.
More facts! 3 minutes of brushing your teeth with the sink running amounts to 12 gallons of water! If you brush twice a day, after a year you will have wasted about 8,760 gallons of water. That’s a lot, and your water bill will go down in a jiffy if you make conscientious water choices.
Now let’s consider a health cost along with an economic one. People in Midwest communities, most without overflowing public transportation options, usually drive to work, school, the store, their friends’ houses, etc. While you may think about the economic cost of this while at the pump, people consider less often the amount of time spent sitting as opposed to actively riding a bike or walking. A quick Google search told me that for every mile biked, you burn 25-60 calories. That’s one extra, guiltless devouring of one of these: And most importantly (to my internship cause anyway)…reusing or buying used goods instead of always buying new things will save you heaps of money. First, really think about if you need it. If you do, come to the Hoosier to Hoosier Community Sale on Saturday, August 11th from 7:30-3:00, or another Resale Trail event that day and find what you need. We have been collecting items from IU students on- and off-campus for the past three months, and we have some great stuff. On a related note, check out our re-use ideas we’ve been posting every week to find creative ways to upcycle your old or broken things.
There are so many other ways to save, too! Fully loading a dishwasher or washing machine before use, not watering your lawn (the grass will grow back!), using natural lighting, growing your own chemical-free, delicious food, the list goes on and on. Living a more eco-friendly lifestyle is not only better for the planet, but also for your health, your wallet, and all those other people living in the world with you.