By now, hopefully we’ve all heard of a ton of options to help save our environment and “go green”. Some of these include walking or biking to work (or other places for that matter), switching to
1. Adopt a plant based diet and eat local as much as possible. So many people think that the reason so many people go “vegetarian” or “vegan” is to save the animals. While that is definitely one reason, saving the environment is a much broader one. I majored in Environmental Studies in college, and once I learned how much land and how many resources go into meat and dairy production, I felt hypocritical for continuing to support an industry that causes so much waste and destruction to not only sentient beings, but the entire planet. Once you go plant-based, you’re eliminating all that need for meat and dairy production. You can also focus on eating local. Not only can this be a healthier option and support your area’s economy, but it can also cut down on the amount of energy consumed and CO2 produced from moving food cross country to grocery stores and restaurants.
2. Stop buying plastic and go reusable! This one might be extremely difficult for a lot of people, not because we lack the willpower to stop buying it, but because it’s EVERYWHERE. The problem with plastic, however, is that it doesn’t biodegrade…at all. In other words, you can find 50 year old plastic and it still looks much like it did when it was first made. Some simple substitutions are: trade your ziploc bags for aluminum food containers and/or pyrex containers (glass and bpa free lids), wash cloths instead of paper towels (these can be machine washed unlike sponges), cloth napkins, canvas bags instead of plastic grocery bags, and bamboo everything! Finish up what you have and keep a list of these replacements to buy next time you go shopping – that way, you’re not wasting any more than you need to. Check out lifewithoutplastic.com for more ideas. I use a ton of stuff from there, and still have a wish list going!
3. Recycle your grocery bags and bubble wrap. Although it can’t be put in the same bin as your other recyclables (it can clog recycling machinery), bubble wrap can be recycled along with your plastic grocery bags at many grocery stores. It’s super easy to do, and you can bring them with you the next time you go grocery shopping so there are no extra trips needed!
4. Upcycle. There are sooo many ways to reuse many of the things you can’t recycle, or can recycle but just want to save room in your bin(s). Check out Pinterest for tons of DIY crafts you can do using old t-shirts, plastic grocery bags, water bottles, and even toilet paper rolls! You can do some pretty cool things, and I’ve personally done a few of them as birthday or holiday gifts for friends and family. With a lot of them, you can’t tell the difference between upcycled and bought, and it’s also a great way to save money. It’s pretty fun too!
5. Declutter…and stay decluttered. It’s as simple as this: overconsumption is the enemy of being environmental friendly. Plus, when you declutter, you’ll finally realize that you don’t need to buy yet ANOTHER hairbrush or nail file (and maybe even make a few bucks having a yard sale).
6. Make as many things at home as possible, and stay away from pre-made, pre-packaged, and processed food. This also includes cleaning products! Vinegar and citrus are natural cleansers, and there are plenty of “recipes” online for making your own multi-surface cleaner. This is especially good if you have kids, as homemade cleaners do not have harmful chemicals in them.
7. Check thrift stores before you go to any chains. This complements the last two, but it is so important to use things that have already been made, versus buying something that had to go through the long process of production which leads to more and more CO2 in the atmosphere and more use of resources.
8. Women – stop buying tampons and pads. Use a reusable menstrual cup or reusable/washable pads. It’s your body, take control of it and don’t be grossed out. I have heard that menstrual cups take a time or two to get used to, but think of all the money you’ll save WHILE helping the environment! The average woman disposes of 230-240 tampons per year. That’s over 200 tampons PER WOMAN that end up in the landfill. Think of the difference it could make if even half of us used reusable menstrual products!
9. Use your compost and recycling bins – even in your bathroom! Also, bar soap (especially homemade or handmade) is more eco-friendly than body wash! Recycle: Empty shampoo and conditioner bottles, etc. Line your compost bin with a biodegradable bag. Compost: cardboard, paper, cotton, hair.
10. Volunteer, and lead by example. Especially in our new political era, it is so important to get out into the world and help out those who may be less fortunate, organizations that may not be able to receive government funding, and other causes that are important to us. This includes environmental organizations. In addition to physically and financially helping out these groups, it allows us to be in contact with those people who may not know about all the free and easy ways to help out the Earth and its inhabitants. Lead by example, educate others, and do everything you can to be a positive force in the world and positive changes will follow.
Remember, your actions regarding what you buy and who and what you support don’t go unnoticed. We control the market, and the world, when we cast our figurative vote for what we will and won’t buy. Companies will not sell things there is no demand for. Make your voice heard and make a difference in how our global home is treated.