Maybe because April was a big Eco Month, what with Earth and Arbor Day, but I have been on a Eco Rant and Rage. More and more information about global warming and the destruction of our environment is surfacing and being discussed, but I still find half a dozen plastic water bottles every time I go on my walks in nature. As an Eco Advocate, this is not only frustrating but deeply concerning. If more and more data is showing the rapid destruction of our planet, why does it seem like no one is taking steps in preserving our environment?
As an individual, we may hear these overwhelming statistics about sea levels rising, or pollution in our atmosphere and turn away from making a change. “I am only one person. How am I going to make a difference? It won’t matter if I keep on living my life how I have been. Someone else will solve the problem.”
I hate to burst your imaginary bubble, but this is probably the mentality of not only yourself, but many other individuals. If we all have this same mentality, nothing is going to change. You may be one person, but as one person, it is your choices that have influence.
As consumers, our choices are extremely important in helping to shape a better future for our planet. What we purchase directly affects the supply and demand of the market, and if we make conscious, environmental decisions about what we buy, we can help reduce the damage done to the environment together, and shape the market towards more sustainable products for the future of the planet.
Don’t know where to begin? Here are seven simple switches anyone can make to living a greener life.
1. Disposable Water Bottles to Stainless Steel Water Bottles
Out of the 50 billion plastic bottles that are bought each year, 80% end up in landfills. Switching to a plastic free bottle, such as stainless steel or glass, is a simple switch that will not only help save the environment, but help save you money as well. I have a stainless steel bottle myself, and it is perfect for my active lifestyle. It’s refillable, reusable, and dishwasher safe. I not only use it for water, but tea, coffee, and other beverages. In today’s marketplace, there are so many cute styles to choose from, so it’s easy to find a bottle that fits you! They even come with nifty features like insulation for hot/cold beverages, and easy-sip tops.
2. Tampons to a Menstrual Cup
The thought of switching to a menstrual cup may be a turn off at first, but after learning about the health hazards tampons cause, as well as their damage to the environment, you’ll be happy you made the switch! The chemicals in tampons are not heavily monitored by the FDA, and many of these chemicals are absorbed into our bodies when inserted. These chemicals include pesticides and chlorine, which can not only lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome, but cancer. The environmental impact of tampons is another concern. On average, a woman will use 11,000 – 16,000 tampons in her lifetime. The plastic applicant cannot obviously be recycled and reused, so where does it go but our landfills and oceans. Switching to a menstrual cup, such as DivaCup and Blossom Cup, is a healthy swap all around. Another option? Reusable pads.
3. Teabags to Tea Infuser
As a big tea drinker, I go through a ton of tea. Most teabags are made of a paper substance. While this material is biodegradable, a tree still needs to be cut down to make the paper. Considering the amount of trees cut down annually already, which is around 10 billion, I’d say we could all do in reducing this number. Seriously, 10 billion!!!! That is over 2 million trees each day, and over an acre of land per second. One simple switch to reducing your paper trail is by purchasing a stainless steel tea infuser. Like with stainless steel water bottles, tea infusers come in so many styles and options. As an added bonus, by using the loose leaf tea, you can create your own blends of tea. If there was such as thing, tea infusers are an Eco Tea-rristas best friend.
4. Paper Towels to Cloth Towel
So just like with switching your paper teabags to reduce your paper trail, ditching your paper towels is another Eco choice we can make. Some not so fun facts about paper towels; one ton of paper towels amounts to 17 trees being cut down. Every day, over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone. Also, paper towels produce methane gas when they decompose. Methane is a leading contributor in global warming. Instead of using paper towels to dry your hands or clean up a mess, use cloth products, such as dish towels, napkins, and rags.
5. Ziplocs to Containers
10% of the plastic we throw out ends up in our oceans. This may seem like a small amount, but when you add the fact that scientists estimate that every square mile of ocean contains approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it, we get a better picture about how much plastic our society uses. Ziplocs, along side grocery bags, are in the top contenders of plastic items that we throw out the most. I can see why it happens, they are great for storing all sorts of things, from food to paperclips. You know what is also great for storing things? Containers! They can be stacked, stored, and used for all sorts of items. I am fond of the glass containers myself, because I can just heat up my food right away and enjoy. Looking for something a little less bulky? Try a reusable baggy.
6. Plastic Bags to Reusable Grocery Bags
This one may require a little bit more effort. I have been caught a few time going to the grocery store and upon checking out, remembering that I left my reusable grocery bags at home. Most stores offer reusable bags to purchase, but in case you don’t want to spend an additional few dollars every time you shop and become a reusable bag lady, keep a bunch in the car, or carry tiny compact bags such as these. If you’re a bit crafty, you can even make your own out of old t-shirts. By switching to a reusable bag, you are saving around 1,500 bags a year. Another surprising fact about plastic bags…they’re not vegan. Plastic bags are actually coated with chicken fat so they can be easily separated when bagging. Just in case you need an extra reason to save the planet and be more compassionate towards animals.
7. Plastic Utensils to Bamboo Tavel Kit
When you are eating out, it is hard to avoid the plastic overload. Everything is in ‘to-go’ form; plates, bowls, cups, etc. One way to minimize the plastic consumption of eating out is by bringing your own reusable travel utensils. These bamboo utensils are heat and stain resistant, durable, and can easily be stored in your purse for moments of fast-food eating.