What is Your Impact from Reuse?

When I reflect on the past year of traveling through communities dotted with farms and cities sprawling with shops and attractions, I am reminded of the impact we have on our planet. The weekly accumulation of recycling for the weekly pick up always catches my attention as I view all the waste on the curb. While I find some relief knowing communities are recycling, so many opportunities to do more to reuse and reduce are ignored.  

In the new year, I vow to continue to find ways to reduce my carbon footprint and share these experiences with others. If we take a minute to make small changes, we could have a big impact on a daily basis. Simple changes to our daily routines, such as replacing plastic bags and styrofoam cups with a personal carry all or refillable bottle, have a huge impact. Another easy target is the stockpile of unused items hidden away in our garages or self-storage facilities. The new year offers the perfect opportunity to take an active stance to make a change. By simply compiling the unused or outgrown items in our closets down to a pile of items to reuse via swap and giveaway provides both financial and emotional rewards. I vividly remember friends and family members who happily received items and the sense of satisfaction that followed from removing clutter while offering a great gift. 

What if you could quantify the environmental impact from the pile of items? This diagram highlights the carbon savings derived from selling my bedroom set, my couch, various furnishings and giving away clothing, electronics and household items on Tradepal. With each listing, I am shown the carbon savings derived from each item by choosing to promote reuse — and not landfills. The CO2 calculator helps users to quantify their CO2 footprint savings directly with every barter, giveaway, buy or sell on Tradepal. And with each transaction, the individual carbon savings score quickly accumulates into an even bigger number with a greater impact by promoting reuse.

According to the EPA, my overall carbon savings is the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 2.8 acres of a forest in one year, or the carbon emissions from consuming 387 gallons of gasoline. An individual impact of 3.5 metric tons is really powerful, but think of the combined impact of a residence hall, a campus or a college town that fully adopts reuse. 




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