Whenever you’ve looked in your refrigerator at home, how many times have you found salsa or beans inside of what seems to be a butter container? It can get annoying to be repeatedly disappointed by the imposter laying in the jar.
But, there’s another way to see this situation. Wouldn’t you rather have these useful bins in your fridge than elsewhere contributing to plastic pollution?
Believe it or not, Latinos are the biggest recyclers of any ethnicity in the United States according to a 2017 report that shows 45% of Hispanics recycled compared to 42% their white counterparts. If you are surprised, perhaps you shouldn’t be.
Many Latinos grow up in households where we heard phrases like “‘¡Apaga la luz! Turn off that light when you leave your room!‘” or “¡No gastes agua! Don’t leave the water running!”
The fact that Latinos in the U.S. have pro-environmental tendencies most likely comes from how our parents and grandparents were raised. With a great percentage of Latinos earning less than non-Hispanics, it’s no wonder this community has had to grow up to be more resourceful.
It can also be said that some Latinos inherited this lifestyle from their ancestors, such as the Aztecs, who took great care of the Earth and lived a zero waste lifestyle. They believed that every resource had a purpose and it could either be reused, repurposed, recycled, or recovered.
Why is it important to be eco-friendly?
Everyday the Earth’s climate deteriorates for human and animal life. The impact of global warming is becoming a greater threat to us all causing the ice caps to melt, burning the forests, endangering thousands of species, and creating extreme weather patterns that makes daily living difficult for many people around the world.
But don’t let this make you lose hope. There’s still a lot that can be done to decrease the consequences of climate change. Even small actions can make a big difference when we all collectively participate to live more sustainable lives.
The Environmental Tips You Can Learn From Your Parents
Don’t Throw Away that Container!
From sourcream or butter containers, to the glass cups that molé sauce is sold in at the store and even pill bottles. Everything can be repurposed. Reuse that molé receptacle and make it into a drinking cup. Use your jars to store leftovers and dry food. Or turn them into a DIY project and use them as pencil holders or a watering can for your plants.
Have you ever been at a restaurant and wished you had some hot sauce? Consider using containers such as small and empty pill bottles to carry your favorite condiments with you. To some people this approach it may seem “cheap,” but it can be seen as cool to be resourceful and sustainable.
Plastic Bags and More
If you’re Latin American, chances are there’s a plastic bag full of other plastic bags somewhere in your house, maybe under your kitchen sink! If you haven’t started to keep your “one-use” plastic store bags, it’s about time you do. You can reuse them as trash bags and they also make great shower caps. If you want to ditch plastic grocery bags for good, go old school and switch to bolsas de mercado!
Also, don’t throw away your resealable storage bags, better known by their brand name Ziploc bags, after one use either. Unless you absolutely have no other option, wash your resealable bags to reuse later for an airline trip, or to store buttons, stickers, and even the charging cables for your devices. You can carry your dog treats around in them too!
Restyle that Old T-Shirt
According to one study, in the United States, 85% of our clothing and textiles are thrown away only to find their final destination in landfills. Instead of throwing away that old t-shirt laying in your closet, turn it into a cleaning rag. Another way of being creative is making a quilted piece from different pieces of clothing. Want healthier and less frizzy hair? Wrap your wet hair in that old t-shirt you don’t like to wear anymore after a shower.
What About Electronic Waste?
As you may have learned, there’re many ways to reuse everyday items. But what do we do with the electronics we no longer use? Do you just throw them away? Should you worry that the chemicals and materials inside them can also contaminate the environment?
Although it may be hard to dispose of electronics, you should never throw them away in the garbage. Taking care of them safely is very important. Electronic waste can take thousands of years to decompose, and they can be very harmful to the environment! Here are some local resources in the Reno/Sparks area that you can use to safely discard your electronic waste.
50 E. Greg St. Ste. #103 Sparks, NV 89431
962 E. Greg St. Sparks, NV. 89431
5575 S Virginia St. Reno, NV 89502
5834 Sheep Dr., Carson City, NV 89701
Protecting the environment by reducing how much plastic we buy, by finding ways to repurpose the things we do consume and making sure to properly recycle the waste we create can help prevent the more disastrous possibilities of climate change and global warming. Luckily, Latinos can thank their families for getting our community off on the right track.
This article was written by incoming first-year University of Nevada, Reno student and Noticiero Móvil 2022 summer intern Jane Carbajal.