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WasteNot: In 2019, it's time for you to 'BTC'

I have a new hero. Actually, I have a new shero. Her name is Greta Thunberg and she is a 15-year-old climate activist from Sweden. Last month she addressed the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Poland. This young woman began her protest last August by sitting on the steps of Sweden’s Parliament for three weeks during school hours. She deplored parliament for its inaction and demanded immediate measures to address climate policies.

After the election, she was joined by other local students and her activism has inspired other students across the world. Greta walks her talk by not eating meat nor flying on airplanes and avoiding other fossil fuel transportation. She limits purchases to only necessary items.

Greta Thunberg embodies “BTC” (Be the Change) which is an abbreviated version of Mahatma Gandhi’s refrain: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We could be a part of a remarkable start of this new year. Right now is as good a time as any to set in motion some personal goals for the new year on any topic. Today’s WasteNot column will give some attention to the notion that we each possess the power to contribute positively toward a more breathable, livable and possibly sustainable future.

It’s one thing to “talk” about doing something and another to take action. Talking about making a change can be an impetus toward being the change when words are accompanied with deeds.

I hope to offer some local, low-hanging fruit opportunities with an invitation to incorporate some or all of these options into your daily life with others of your own.

The hope is to begin or continue to make adjustments that offer greater efficiencies and less waste.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make” (Jane Goodall).

Here are a few steps you can take:

Leave home prepared: BYO’s (bring your own water bottle, bags, drinking cups, containers). Say NO to single-use items unless it’s toilet paper.

Consider utilizing local resources: Confirm what is recyclable. Donate items in decent shape to the Metaphysical Library, Habitat for Humanity, Ashland Food Bank and other local drop-offs.

Rent Lend-Me-A-Plate dishware for your next event, eat/shop local, buy in bulk, walk more, carpool, plan outings to reduce car trips, don’t idle.

Take shorter showers.

Install a laundry to landscape system.

Catch rainwater, compost, buy less and then buy used.

Buy local, say no to Amazon, support local/regional economy, limit online purchases to items unavailable in Jackson County.

Take spent prescription drugs to police station and paint to the Ashland Hardware Store.

Recycle fluorescent lighting and ink cartridges.

Wear a sweater and hat to stay warm instead of turning up the heat.

Eat organic, avoid pesticides.

Save hazardous waste for first Saturday in May drop off.

Look out for the upcoming “durables 2Go” program starting with a few Ashland restaurants.

Contact businesses that do good and let those that don’t hear what matters to you.

Switch from incandescent lighting to LED’s.

Redeem dime deposit containers or donate them to nonprofits.

Volunteer for an organization or local government or school, join city or county commission, run for public office.

Donate to groups doing work you value.

Report businesses/individuals to Ashland Code Compliance Specialist Andrew Barrow (andrew.barrow@ashland.or.us) that pollute storm drains or don’t comply with city ordinance to charge 10 cents for new bags, for example. The city cannot be everywhere.

If we aren’t ready to act now, then when? Greta needs us to do our part to change ourselves and work with our community to start growing new waste not habits.

I appreciate the inspirations from people like Mahatma Ghandi, Jane Goodall and Greta Thunberg. Here’s a short excerpt from Greta’s recent United Nations speech: “I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.”

At the very least, start by focusing on the first 2 R’s: REDUCING & REUSING (reducing consumption and reusing items come before the third R, recycling). That commitment will slow voracious consumption and conserve resources.

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference” (Jane Goodall).

Risa Buck has served on the Ashland Conservation Commission and in waste prevention education for more than a dozen years. You may reach her through betling@dailytidings.com. Find past WasteNot columns online at dailytidings.com/lifestyle/wastenot.

Swedish young activist, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg, right, speaks to climate activists during the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
The Lend Me A Plate program, created in part by Bob Altaras, is now a part of the Ashland Recycling Center. Photo by Denise Baratta