An 8-year-old daughter once asked her father to start recycling. He chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” The father chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?” Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” she said. I read this in an e-mail recently and it made so much sense. Kids usually say it best. Planet Earth is where we keep “our stuff” and if we want our future generations to continue to have this luxury, we must preserve and take responsibility of what we have. Landfills are overflowing with waste, which over time, release toxic gases. The most dangerous produced is methane gas, and as it builds up pressure, it begins to move through the soil and air.
What is really scary is some of our crops are grown with this contaminated soil. These toxins also leak out into fresh waterways, which ultimately end up in our homes as drinking water. Only a limited number of chemicals in drinking water are regulated or even scientifically studied. Studies have shown that children living near these landfills have a significantly reduced growth rate and higher incidences of heart and lung disease in adults. Coincidence? Probably not.
“Living Green” means to live life in a way that is friendly to the natural environment and sustainable for planet Earth. This includes contributing to maintaining the natural balance in the environment, and preserving the planet and its natural resources. This is done by taking action to minimize the harm we do to the environment on a daily basis resulting in a way of life. We have to take action now or our future generations are going to face a lot of problems as a result of our lack of respect to our planet. How can we take small steps to do our part of living green in our daily living habits? Personally, I have incorporated these simple things in my home to do my part and I hope you will do the same.
Ditch the bottled water! Not only is it a waste of money but also it is one of the largest contributors to landfills. Statistics show that there are currently 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone in U.S. landfills and it takes over 1,000 years for them to biodegrade. The average American consumes 167 bottled water annually and if you figure per household, that is a huge number of bottles each year. Although in bulk, bottled water is relatively inexpensive, there are much cheaper and ecofriendly ways to get water. This year, invest in a water filter such as Brita or Pure. They are water pitchers with built in filters that you fill from your tap water. Buy your family some containers that are made from glass or a safe sturdy plastic such as Nalgene bottles. Nalgenes are shatterproof water bottles that are made with a safe plastic, they will last you years! Make it fun! If you have kids, let them pick out their favorite color and have them decorate the bottle with their favorite stickers. Once you have a filter and bottles to use, you will never have to run to the store again for bottled water.
Start recycling! This is our planet and we have only one of them, so we need to take action to insure our future generations have this planet to live on with all the wonderful natural resources we take for granted. Tuscaloosa offers many ways of recycling to make it easy to do so. The easiest way is curbside pick up, which is collected the same time as your trash day. If you use the city’s garbage services, a recycling bin and pickup is free of charge. If you do not use the trash services, there are also numerous places around town to drop off your recycling. A couple places where you can drop off recycling is Kmart on McFarland, Alabama One Credit Union on 21st Street, and the McAbee Center on Loop Road. More locations for drop off can be found at You will be surprised how much of your trash is actually recyclable. Since we have started to recycle in my household, we fill a trash bag only about once every two weeks. The rest of our trash goes into recycling.
Eat Smart! Whenever possible, buy from local farmers or farmers’ markets. Not only will your food be better quality but you will keep your money in the local economy. Consider the amount of pollution created to get your groceries from a farm to your table. Buying local will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas created when food has to be flown or trucked in. Nowadays, it is not only things like sugar, coffee, chocolate, tea, and bananas that are shipped long distances. Fruits and vegetables that were once grown locally in household gardens and small farms are now being shipped into the United States from other countries. It is estimated that the average American meal travels 1500 miles to get from the farm to your plate. In order to transport food long distances, much of it is picked while still unripe and then gassed to “ripen” it after transport. Produce is also lasting longer for transport through the use of preservatives and irradiation to keep it stable for a longer shelf life. What should really concern you is, scientists are experimenting with genetic modification to produce longer-lasting, less perishable produce. Remember, we are what we eat. When these preservatives and other chemicals are mixed in our food, they do not magically go away when consumed.
Remember the Tuscaloosa River Market is every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. until noon and you can find everything from produce, meat, honey, sweets, teas, and much more.
These are small steps, easily taken, but remember nothing is going to happen overnight. Have patience, perseverance, and be of the understanding that we don’t have to do anything huge or crazy to do our part, just keep it simple and keep it going.

Dr. Rachel Steiner is a Tuscaloosa area chiropractor.

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