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Little actions, BIG impact

Wondering how little actions could possibly make a difference, or just looking for idea to make the world a better place?  You have come to the right place!

Though it can seem like the problems with the world are too massive to deal with, here is a list of little things and how together they can have a BIG impact.

Take some time… do some good.  Then head over to the Inspiretwo website to help spread the word.

Check back here as we will add to this list, or better yet email us and tell us what you want us to find out about.

Stop using plastic bags

Stop using plastic bags - photo by winnondSeriously – each year an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags get produced and used.

How many?!

Well, a million is a thousand times bigger than a thousand.  A billion is a thousand times bigger than a million.  A trillion is a thousand times bigger than a billion – a 1 followed by 12 zeros, 1,000,000,000,000!

So a trillion is a thousand billions, which means it is a million millions. That is a lot of bags.

Did you know that it takes anywhere from 15 to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade?  The ubiquitous plastic bag is made out of polyethylene, and happens to be one of the hardest materials to degrade naturally.

Also, even though it seems like plastic bags are free, they are actually adding $25 million to the grocery bill in New Zealand alone, and the petroleum used to make the plastic bags used in New Zealand and Australia each year would fuel a car to drive around the world 20,000 times. In the United States, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used to make the plastic bags that Americans consume annually.

How this little action can have a big impact

Each year if you lived in New Zealand you would save about 250 bags, in Australia about 280 bags, and in America about 500 bags.  If just 100 people from each of these countries stopped using plastic bags, that would mean 250,000, 280,000 or half a million bags would be avoided each year respectively… JUST 100 PEOPLE.  Given that every hour over 40,000 bags are dumped in landfill in New Zealand and 200,000 in Australia, this little action is one we could all be doing.

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Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups

Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups - photo by KeattikornSingle-use disposables like water bottles, coffee cups, plastic utensils and take-out containers may seem to make our lives more convenient, but they don’t… not really. The cost of them gets added to the food and drink we buy (even if we don’t know it), and we pay to get it all picked up and hidden away. In fact about 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were disposed of in 2008 around the world.

Depending on where you live, up to 90% of the plastic water bottles we buy are used once and then end up in landfill.

If you live in America, apparently you buy (and probably drink as well) 167 bottles of water every year, and nearly 8 out of every 10 of those bottles will end up in a landfill. Furthermore, it’s estimated that the production of plastic accounts for 4 percent of the country’s energy consumption.  And those take-away coffee cups?  They add about 3.7 million pounds of solid waste EVERY YEAR.

Unless you are in an area without access to safe drinking water, there really is no excuse for buying bottled water, and lots of places offer discounts on take-away coffees if you have your own cup.

How this little action can have a big impact

Even if you only paid 1 dollar for each bottle of water an average American consumes, that’s $167 you would save every year.  And if only 100 people started using reusable drink bottles, that would stop 13,360 bottles going to landfill every year.

Check out The Story of Bottled Water if you need more incentive.

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Recycle and compost

Recycle and compost - photo by kanateEach New Zealander consumes approximately 31 kg of plastic packaging per year, recycles 5.58kg (MfE, 2002), and 50% of the plastic sent to landfills is imported. 40 to 50% of the ‘rubbish’ we send to landfill we could compost, which means we would need only half as much landfill and would have way better gardens.

If you live in England, you live in a country where 36 million pounds worth of aluminium is thrown away EVERY YEAR.

How this little action can have a big impact

Recycling a single plastic bottle can conserve enough energy to light a 60-watt light bulb for up to three hours and:

  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.

Recycling one tonne of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space, and producing new plastic and paper products from recycled materials uses two-thirds less energy than is required to make products from raw (virgin) materials.  For every tonne of newspaper made from recycled paper you save 24 mature trees.

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Donate your old clothes to a local organisation and buy some new second hand ones

Cotton fields - photo by scottchanIf you live in England, you live in a country that throws out about 1 million tonnes of clothing every year, and presumably buys over 1 million tonnes of new clothing to replace it. In fact if you live in America, you import 48.3 pieces of new clothing per person each year.

Buying new clothing is nice, but most cotton crops pollute. It is estimated that in the Third World, half of all pesticides used are used on cotton fields.  “Cotton accounts for only 2.5% of all agricultural land use, but for 22.5% of all insecticides applied in agriculture.” – Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian. (12)

Donating clothes helps your community and makes you feel better.

How this little action can have a big impact

When you recycle a single gently-used T-shirt and one pair of jeans, you help save a full pound of chemical fertilizer and pesticide from being released into the soil, water, and atmosphere. One hundred people do this and that is one hundred pounds of chemicals and pesticides that are not going to be causing problems later on.

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