About a year ago I learned about the zero waste lifestyle. I found it so fascinating, and have been trying to lessen my environmental impact ever since. While I am in no way living a zero waste lifestyle, I have definitely made some huge improvements in the amount of waste that I produce. If you are interested in lessening your environmental impact, but aren’t ready to make your own toothpaste quite yet, here are some easy ways to do so.
Replace Plastic Bags With Reusable
This swap is probably the easiest and most obvious, but it is something that most people still don’t do. Did you know that a trillion plastic bags are used each year? Did you know that the amount of energy required to make 12 plastic shopping bags could drive a car for a mile? Unfortunately, almost all curbside recycling programs do not accept plastic bags. That is a lot of unneeded plastic that is filling our landfills, and energy that is being used to create all of these plastic bags.
Don’t just stop at the grocery store when using reusable bags though. Think about all of the extra single-use bags that your accumulate when you purchase beauty products, books, clothing, etc. I always keep a few reusable bags in my car so when I quickly need to run into a store to purchase something, I always have a reusable bag handy.
All of my reusable bags have been given to me, so I can’t recommend where to buy the best ones. I prefer insulated bags for groceries because they will keep my refrigerated and freezer items cold until I can get them home. I prefer cloth bags for non-grocery items. You can purchase reusable bags at almost any grocery store.
Replace Plastic Produce Bags With Reusable
Have you ever stopped to think about how many plastic produce bags you use every time you go to the grocery store? If you eat as much produce as I do, then it is a lot. Think about this: you put your produce into a plastic bag and then when you are paying for your groceries you put that plastic bag in another plastic bag. How wasteful is that! An easy solution is to bring your own reusable produce bags. If you are already bringing reusable grocery bags, you might as well just put a few reusable produce bags in them to bring to the store as well. The Earth will thank you for it.
These are the reusable produce produce bags that I use.
Replace Your Disposable Plastic Water Bottle With A Reusable Stainless Steel Or Glass One
I don’t think there is anything that bothers me more than seeing people drink out of disposable plastic water bottles. Not only does the plastic have hazardous affects on your health, but it is a waste of money and terrible for the environment. Did you know that bottled water is about 2,000x the cost of a gallon of tap water? In 2012, Americans spent $11.8 billion dollars on bottled water. That is a huge waste of money!
While a reusable plastic bottle is better for the environment and will help you to save quite a bit of money, it is not the best solution. Reusable plastic water bottles still have toxic chemicals that can leak into your body. Yes, even BPA-free ones. You can read more about that here. The best solution is to purchase a stainless steel or glass reusable water bottle. I prefer a stainless steel one because I know that I would break a glass water bottle in a second. This is the water bottle that I use.
Replace Plastic Containers With Glass
Even before I was into natural living, I had always heard that you weren’t supposed to drink the water out of a plastic water bottle that has been sitting in a hot car because the chemicals in the plastic leak into the water. So why would you put your hot leftover food in plastic containers? This realization came to me about six months ago, and I have exclusively been using glass jars ever since.
I just reuse the glass jars from items that I have purchased such as nut butters and pasta sauce, but you could also purchase glass or stainless steel containers if you don’t want to use only jars.
Replace Disposable Razor With A Safety Razor
Your wallet will seriously thank me for this tip. The EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away each year. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to stop shaving. I am just going to tell you to replace your disposable razor with a safety razor. While a safety razor costs more initially, it will save you a ton in the long run. I used to spend about $15 a month buying the replacement heads for my razor. Now I spend about $5 every 5 months. That is a huge saving! The safety razor does take a little bit of time to get used to, but your life will never be the same once you get the hang of it.
Note: You cannot take safety razors in your carryon on a plane. I kept my old razor around for traveling when I am not checking my bag.
Hopefully these changes will help you to notice how much waste you produce. These are a few small, easy changes that can spiral into a huge positive impact for our planet.