When we begin paying attention, it’s eye-opening to see how our individual lives contribute to pollution on a daily basis. Ziplock bags, to-go containers, and plastic wrappers are only a few culprits.
Our waste does not disappear into the ether once we put it into a trash bin. Nothing is genuinely thrown “away,” especially plastic. It remains in existence polluting our ocean waters, threatening marine life, and contributing to the production of toxic gases by preventing organic materials from composting naturally.
If we turn a blind eye to our impact, our resources will continue depleting at an alarming rate. The reality is, the earth will be fine without us. Quite frankly, it will do wonderfully once we cease to exist and it has millions of years to regenerate itself. This planet is not what needs protecting – it’s our future.
Our survival relies on our participation to live harmoniously with other life on this planet. Mistreating any aspect of the ecosystem we are part of is contributing to our demise. Sound intense? Well, it is. Although acknowledging the environmental damage our species creates can be overwhelming, know that small changes genuinely do have a significant impact.
Making environmentally-friendly choices is a lot easier than you might think. Below are five simple steps you can take that won’t cost much, will save you money in the long run, and will make for a happier planet.
Products today are not only over-packaged, the packages are in smaller amounts. We pay more, get less, and pollute tremendously. Years ago, before realizing how desperately we needed to purge the plastic, I never even saw the bulk section as a package-free alternative. Honestly, I paid it no mind. In our disposable society though, bulk foods are our saving grace. You buy only the quantity you need, you don’t have tons of unnecessary wrapping to throw away, and you save money.
When shopping bulk, bring your bags (or jars if the item wouldn’t do well in a bag) and either weigh it before putting anything inside, or sometimes there is an option already programmed on the scale for your storage item. This way you only pay for the weight of your food items. Once you get it home, simply leave the dry goods in the jars if you used them, or transfer your bagged items into jars.
reusable grocery bags & produce bags
It’s fantastic to see reusable bags so prevalent in our society now, but the effort can’t stop there. An enormous amount of plastic is still used in grocery stores, notably produce bags and dry goods packaging. Cotton muslin bags are zero waste essentials for bulk and produce.
You can use them for just about anything: fruit, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, pasta, bread, loose tea, etc.
reusable kitchen gadgets
One of the best ways to reduce our eco-footprint is eating meals at home. With that said, a huge portion of trash we produce is from our households, especially the kitchen.
Thankfully, there are so many helpful kitchen gadgets that are worth the investment. Onion savers, citrus savers, avocado savers and food huggers are some of my favorites. All of these are the perfect alternative to plastic wrap and ziplock when saving those half-chopped veggies.
glass & stainless steel food storage
Started packing your lunch? YAY! But if you’re using plastic bags, a simple adjustment to the way meals are stored will make all the difference! To avoid plastic exposure and unnecessary trash, invest in mason jars or glass containers. Mason jars have been my go-to for years because they have a multitude of other benefits. They come in plenty of sizes, can be frozen, are great for portion control, and they are inexpensive. Also, you can find jars at almost any thrift store, or clean out your old salsa and almond butter jars to reuse them.
Additionally, the way we store beverages is equally essential. Invest in a reusable water bottle (and coffee mug if it applies). Plastic water bottles are a topic I don’t even have enough breath in my lungs to cover. Just please — find a reusable bottle you love, invest in it, and use it religiously. Hydroflasks are an amazing option that will keep your water cold or your coffee hot for 12+ hours.
reusable/biodegradable straws & utensils
Straws are among the most common plastic items volunteers clean from beaches, along with bottles, bags, and cups, conservationists say.
“Humans didn’t evolve around straws. It’s not like we have to consume fluids with this appendage. What really, what is this?” I loved this quote because it’s important to notice how often we classify conveniences as necessities. Several major cities are working towards an official ban on plastic straws and utensils. It might sound crazy, but it shouldn’t. The amount of plastic in our oceans is astronomical, and by cutting out straws and utensils, we prevent millions from being added to the ocean daily.
With many businesses typically only offering plastic to-go options, society makes it hard to avoid. However, we can make a conscious effort to say no to one-use plastic in small ways by either investing in reusable utensils or supporting businesses already offering biodegradable/compostable options.
Happy Earth Day everyone!