It’s almost earth day and with all this time on my hands I’ve been trying to do one thing each day that is good for the environment. Recently trash pick up around my neighborhood has dominated my one hour a day donation to Mother Nature and I can’t help but notice there are just a TON of water bottles, gatorade bottles, soft drink cans/ bottles & tops everywhere.
A few months back I was at a going away party for some friends when I got into a deep discussion about sustainability and recycling with a friend of mine. I should note that I was fresh off a trip where recycling wasn’t a part of daily life which was pretty difficult for me. The debate was that recycling is a waste of time and most of it doesn’t get recycled. Look, I get it, I understand that the recycling process isn’t efficient as it is. But I also believe it’s our leaders and elected officials job to change that. I believe that if everyone did their part, citizens doing their part and leaders making the process efficient as an investment in our future we could have an effective recycling program… but that’s a song for another time.
Anyways, the my friend and I were discussing the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto and she introduced me to a different motto: REFUSE, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That is to make better choices and refuse convenience over the environment. I don’t know why that concept was so mind blowing to me because to be honest I was already kind of practicing it in my everyday life on a small scale so maybe it was the way she packaged it but it obviously hit a cord because I’m writing a blog post about it.
Do I really need that plastic bag for one item? Even 5 items? Can I grow my own herbs without buying the plastic packaged ones? Can I purchase items that can be refilled or reused? Can I purchase locally grown organic produce instead of plastic shrink wrapped broccoli?
So in the midst of The Toilet Paper Crisis 2020 I wanted to share a couple of eco-friendly habits I’ve adopted that were easy to incorporate into our lives. Also, I’d recommend hitting up your local TJ Maxx or Homegoods for many of the items below, they have some great deals but until they are opened again I’m sure Amazon will have what you need to make the switch.
- No Single Use Plastics
- Unless I’m dying of thirst I will wait. I also make it a point to always have a reusable water bottle in all my normal locations (car, kitchen, office, by the front door) in case I need some water. The bonus is that I’ve recently had the opportunity to organize all our Yetis and Tervis tumblers for optimal use.
- Reusable Bags. I always bring them into the store with me (and then lysol the hell out of them when I get home). Even when I use Shipt for grocery delivery I request that they use paper bags so I can reuse and I also leave a note for no plastic between the cheese slices from the deli (Publix peeps- you get it).
- Mason Jars To the Rescue. I purchase the wide mouth version of all sizes. They are great for meal prepping and also a cheap alternative to Tupperware and plastic bags. They come in packs of 12, I get mine locally from Strunk Ace Hardware. Plus, they look fancy when you share with friends and family <3
- Reusable sandwich & storage bags. Packing a lunch? Left overs that need storage? These are great to use and are see through so you don’t loose track of the contents. My favorite brand is Stasher.
- Cut Back on Paper Products
- No Paper Towels, No Problem. Invest in some good dish towels. They are a staple in my house. I have them for everyday use as well as special occasions and holidays. I’d say on average we go through about 3/4 dish towels a day so it helps to have a hefty stock.
- No Napkins, No Problem Either. Purchase some cloth napkins. I like white because they are bleachable. You can typically find them pretty cheap in bulk. Plus, it makes all meals feel a bit fancier with a cloth napkin.
- Use Less Energy
- Switch lightbulbs to LED bulbs.
- Shut off appliances and computers when not in use.
- Wash your clothes in cold water.
- Carpool, ride share, bike or walk!
- Be Open Minded About Food & Waste
- Eat less meat and more plants. It takes far more land and water to support animal agriculture than fruits, vegetables and grains.
- Try eliminating all processed meats from your family’s diet as a first step, shoot for Meatless Monday and branch out from there.
- Composting. We used to have a local service that offered composting pick up and delivery. You pick your frequency of pick up and bi annually you get your share of compost. There was a small charge for the pick up but in my opinion totally worth it. Our waste decreased by more than 1/2 as a household. Unfortunately that service is suspended right now due to size constraints (I’m reallllly hoping it comes back) but if you live outside of The Keys I’d highly recommend looking into a local composting company that may service your area.
Also, in case you needed some more good news and encouragement to do the right thing, for the first time in more than 30 years, the Ozone layer is healing so let’s keep this momentum going!