With the current state of the environment, from ocean water temperatures rising, freakish and dangerous weather patterns becoming the norm and the widespread devastation of natural habitats, just to name a few circumstances of this heartbreaking situation, there’s no doubt that the Earth is rejoicing at the ever growing trend of low/zero waste.
As choosing green trends, culturally, we are beginning to wake up and take responsibility for the ways in which our daily choices are contributing to the issues.
Sadly, the United States has its work cut out for itself. As the leading nation of annual trash production at the staggering rate of 4.4 pounds of municipal waste per person each day, the time is ripe for us to adjust our practices and reduce our waste.
Because caring for our planet is love.
1. Hop On the Reusable Bags Train
- Americans use 100 billion plastic bags per year, the majority of which
- wind up in landfills and
- sorrowfully are consumed by wildlife, commonly seabirds and turtles, leading to their premature deaths and great decline in population size.
- Thankfully, city governments throughout the country are banning single-use plastic bags.
- Even if your city hasn't yet reached this verdict, there’s no reason to wait. You can make the choose to plan ahead and bring reusable bags with you wherever you go. I like to leave one in the back of my car so that I’m never without!
- There are tons of options, but I like the reusable shopping bag by Chico Bag.
2. Bring Your Own
- One of the greatest sources of waste creation in our lives is due to our food purchases that come in packaging.
- Choosing to skip the pre-wrapped products will not only reduce the amount of trash you create, but may lead to healthier food choices as well.
- Instead of purchasing pre-made and processed foods wrapped in plastic and cardboard, make your food pickings from the produce and bulk aisles instead.
- By bringing your own mason jars, mesh bulk bags, and reusable produce bags you can skip the plastic bags provided by stores and instead set a shining example on how to refuse and instead reuse.
3. “No Straw Please”
- Over 500,000,000 plastic straws are used each day in the United States.
- After its single use, we toss straws to the trash with no thought, turning them into an instant source of plastic pollution.
- We only started using straws to this extent in the past twenty years. We are not yet so indoctrinated that we can't turn things around.
- Consider requesting your drink orders without the straw or bring a reusable one of your own!
- Reusable straws come in acrylic, stainless steel, glass, and even bamboo.
4. Switch Your Wraps
- 30% of all waste in the U.S. is from packaging. So while you maybe in the habit of using plastic wrap to preserve your food, it’s not the most considerate choice for the planet.
- Reusable snack bags or glass tupperware are fantastic eco-friendly alternatives to keep your leftovers fresh while skipping the unnecessary plastic waste.
5. Bye, Bye Plastic Bottles
- In 2016, 334 million metric tons of plastic was produced, half of which was used for single-use products like plastic bottles.
- Less than 10% of that plastic will ever be recycled.
- Statistics like this are absolutely unacceptable with the choices available to us today.
- One of the easiest things we can do to reduce our waste is to choose to hydrate ourselves with reusable water bottles.
- If you have a reusable bottle already, I encourage you to use it. But if you’re looking for a product you can feel good about supporting, consider purchasing a Hydro Flask.
- Not only do they create a high quality product, Hydro Flask also funds Parks for All, which “provides grants to non-profit organizations focused on building, maintaining, restoring, or providing better access to parks,” which makes your investment in their products an investment in our park’s wilderness too.
6. Say “No” to Disposables
- To-go meals are super convenient, but they come in single-use styrofoam, often the kind that can't be recycled. Some, luckily, do come in recyclable plastic, but this is still a product that creates more waste than it saves.
- Something is better than nothing. Even if you can't get zero-waste take-out, you can ask them to please not put any plastic forks or condiments that you won't use. Instead, bring your own.
- To-Go Ware is a company I feel really proud to support, as we share similar visions and dreams for a transformed “to-go” culture that has lead us to creating excessive plastic waste.
- Their travel bamboo utensil sets are reusable and made with a commitment to being environmentally responsible, making these transportable utensil sets super eco-friendly.
- Don’t feel called to invest in an additional product? Then simply travel with a set of utensils from your home in your purse or backpack.
- Toss out the “throw away” approach and commit to reuse today!
7. Brush With Biodegradables
- Nearly 5 billion plastic toothbrushes are made annually, and it takes each brush 400 years to decompose.
- This overwhelming statistics makes me think of how many plastic toothbrushes I have used throughout my life thus far, sitting in a landfill somewhere, destined to never biodegrade.
- Multiply that reality by the number of people purchasing plastic toothbrushes in the world and that visual becomes that much more alarming.
- As I educated myself more on the reality of today’s plastic pollution, I started to investigate and switch my purchasing habits to reusable or biodegradable products. Toothbrushes are no exception, and this is what led me to discover the people behind the Mable bamboo toothbrush.
- The folks at Mable are on a mission to inspire others to make a difference by making small, sustainable choices, one toothbrush and classroom at a time. Not only have they made a chic, eco-friendly, 100% biodegradable toothbrush, but they also visit schools in their local community through their Buy Give Teach program, empowering youth to utilize the power they have to affect change.
- In order for our changes to have the greatest impact, they need to reach others. Let’s come together to stop adding to the problem, cut our plastic use and be part of the solution.
8. Cups Over Trash
- In her lifetime, a woman will dispose 300 pounds of waste through menstrual products alone.
- In the past, we may have turned to disposable menstrual products, because we were led to believe they were our only choice.
- Thankfully, today, we have a wide variety of reusable products, from menstrual cups to reusable pads, that are not only kind to the Earth, but better honor our bodies too. Consider these recommendations below:
- Natural sea sponge tampons
- Diva Cups
- Created by a mother and daughter duo committed to making periods a more positive experience for all women.
- Thinx Panties
- A company committed to female empowerment, smashing through the period taboo culture.
- DIY Cloth Pads
- For a fraction of the cost of the above mentioned products, you can empower yourself to make your own reusable cloth pads... extra “Go Green!” points if you up-cycle clothing that you are no longer using to make them with.
9. Choose Paperless
- From junk mail to credit card bills, it doesn’t take long for our mailboxes to overflow with envelopes and fliers. Now imagine how many forest and trees had to be clear cut in the production of their paper?
- One of the simplest steps we can take to reduce our waste while minimizing our clutter is by switching over to paperless. It's as easy as logging into your accounts and clicking a button.
- Also, if you’re a lover of books, magazines or newspapers, consider switching over to their digital forms and reading them on the electronic reader of your choice.
- Prefer the smell and feel of books, then commit to purchasing used books or host book swaps with your neighbors, colleagues and friends. Gifting books when you're done is another great option.
Living Our Values
As consumers, we have tremendous power to influence the greater, flawed systems of our societies. Our current system reaps resources from our planet as if they will infinitely be abundant.
But the truth is, our modern way of living is depleting a very finite natural world that will seize to provide if we do not change our ways.
We can strive to send nothing to the landfill. We can shift our expectations of what we need, reuse as much as we can, send minimally to be recycled and compost what we cannot.
Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Rot. Recycle.
It’s not about perfection, but about making better choices.
Want to see more of my Zero Waste alternative product picks? Click here.