Easy Ways to Green Up Your Routine
Did you know that in a lifetime, the average American will leave a legacy of 90,000 pounds of trash for future generations? Or that today, most communities are spending more money on waste management than they are for schoolbooks, fire protection, libraries, and parks?
We live in a society where convenience has become a basic necessity. Everything is packaged, disposable, and thrown away out of sight and out of mind. But the truth is that our trash has a real and serious impact on the planet.
So I am making it my mission to do my part and take action, and I hope this post encourages you to do the same!
It’s been a slow and transitional journey for me, and I have many more goals that I want to reach - but here are some of the simple steps that I’ve taken over the past few months to reduce my carbon footprint:
Let’s tackle a big one first: grocery stores are overflowing with unnecessary single use plastic. Practicing mindfulness at the supermarket is an easy way to make a big impact.
First and foremost, reusable shopping bags are a must! Keeping reusable shopping bags in the trunk of your car ensures you’re always prepared. It’s also important to note that plastic shopping bags can’t just be tossed into the recycling bin, as they often get tangled up in machinery and require special means of recycling. Many stores offer plastic bag recycling collections , so if you do forget your reusable bags, save your plastic ones to drop off at your nearest location.
Second, think about how food is packaged before you toss it into your cart. Do you really need that pineapple pre-cut and packaged a plastic container? You can eliminate a ton of unnecessary waste simply by buying whole, unpackaged fruits and veggies and taking the minimal extra steps to wash and cut them.
Additionally, look for opportunities to buy locally sourced foods! Not only will you be getting fresh food and supporting local businesses, but local food saves loads of resources thanks to decreased shipping and transportation needs. If you live around Pittsburgh, a few places I’ve come across where you can find a great selection of local foods include farmers markets, the East End Food Co-Op, Heirloom Superfood Market, Market District, and Whole Foods.
Online shopping has become crazy convenient for consumers. But have you ever thought about the environmental effect of your free two day shipping? It’s actually really serious, and this Vox video does a great job of putting it into perspective. I mean, is it really that important that you receive that new set of dish towels in the next two days? I’ve been making it a habit to opt for standard shipping on my online orders (Amazon Prime even offers rewards for free No Rush Shipping). We’d do the Earth a really big favor if we could all learn to wait the extra couple of days for our packages.
Replace the Disposables
A big change in my routine has been trying to recognize daily disposable items that can be replaced with reusable or biodegradable counterparts. Not only have I reduced a large amount of my daily waste, but I’ve also been saving money! Reusable, Earth-friendly products that I’ve introduced into my daily routine include:
Replacing disposable cotton rounds with washable ones
Replacing makeup wipes with micellar water
Always carrying a reusable water bottle with me
Using reusable snack bags, glass tupperware, and metal silverware for work lunches
Buying a bamboo toothbrush (wait til your current one is ready for a replacement)
Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled - let’s make it our mission to change that! Recycling is so important and so easy to implement into your lifestyle. But first, before tossing everything into the green bin, it’s important to educate yourself on what can be recycled. Fortunately, easy access to recycling continues to grow, and many big name brands are now offering recycling programs in exchange for discounts on their products. Two of my favorites are L’Occitane, who will recycle any brand of skincare, body or fragrance containers, and H&M, who will recycle your unwanted textiles. Terracycle is another great website to check out that offers a massive variety of recycling programs for products that are unable to simply be tossed into your at-home recycling bin.
I’m not going to go into detail on this one. You know the deal, ditch ‘em don’t pitch ‘em.
Sustainability is not just a challenge for governments and big corporations, it’s everyone’s responsibility. There is no planet B, after all. I’ll be continuing to work on implementing more sustainable habits into my daily routine, and I hope that these tips inspire you to make changes in your life as well!
Let’s be kind to our Mother.