Creating laws or bans against certain products has its share of downfalls, like the opposition putting in laws that forbid you banning them, for example. That being said, we shouldn't need laws to change our habits. It's on us to make the necessary changes. Even though the problem feels too big to tackle, we need to start with something achievable.
Below are 10 easy ways to do your part for Mother Earth. Some of these things may take some time getting used to, but once you start you really can't stop! I say this from experience.
1. Opt for aluminum or glass straws
The number of plastic straws used daily could circle the earth nearly 2.5 times. That's a LOT. So make this straw your last straw! The Last Plastic Straw
2. Keep reusable grocery & produce bags in the car or near the door
Almost all of my bags stay in the trunk of my car, this way I never forget them. On the days that I do, or times when I'm traveling I opt for paper bags over plastic if it's an option...or I simply suck it up and carry my stuff! In addition to grocery bags I have 3 produce bags that I bring with me and use at the bulk bins. These are helpful for places who deny your use of jars. It's kind of a loophole ;-). Here are 25 reasons to go reusable.
3. Drink from a glass or stainless steel water bottle
Goodbye Poland Springs! Who knows how long those have been bottled or how many times they sat in the sun allowing the plastic to "cook," so to speak. On top of that, who needs to spend the money on water bottles when you can have a perfectly beautiful bottle with you at all times? My bottle travels with me everywhere...and it just so happens to be huge. Sometimes the size is inconvenient, but other than that I never have any regrets! I even bring my own bottle for travel and fill it at a fountain or water bottle station once I'm through security at the airport.
4. Use jars for food storage (dry goods, bulk items, leftovers, etc)
A jar for everything and everything in its jar ;-). I use jars for nuts/seeds, flours, grains, beans, ferments, leftovers, you name it really. They are extremely handy, aesthetically pleasing, easy to clean, and most importantly, environmentally friendly! Hack: Use a chalkboard marker to label!
5. Use reusable hemp cotton rounds
I purchased reusable cotton rounds when I realized I was spending money every few weeks on a new package. Not only was it wasteful for my wallet, but also for the planet because each package is wrapped in plastic. They go right in my wash with everything else! I put them in a separate laundry bag (my made-up version of a "garment" or "lingerie" bag) and tie it up so I can take them out easily to air dry.
6. Ditch Dryer Sheets - Opt for wool dryer balls
As easy as it sounds...and it avoids the need for dryer sheets (which are filled with all sorts of hazardous chemicals). Just throw them into your dryer and they help to fluff your clothes, absorb any odors, keep them soft AND cut down drying time!
7. Wrap gifts with reusable wrapping paper
This is something I want to start doing. I haven't done it yet, but I'm hoping it becomes "a thing" so that when I gift something to someone, I eventually get the wrapping back from someone else...and so on. This way you don't have to awkwardly wait until someone opens your gift to ask for it back (but of course...DO if you think they will toss it or not use it!)
8. Choose reusable snack bags
These are one of the bigger investments I will be making bag by bag. My husband and I like to bulk cook and the easiest way to stack and freeze meals is with sandwich bags. But by purchasing stasher or blue avocado bags (2 of the many companies making silicone reusable bags), it will eliminate the plastic waste and help us avoid the need to buy ziplocks again. Yahoo!
9. Use Reusable Post-its for notes
This is a fun one! Instead of all those sticky notes that you simply throw away (or hopefully recycle if you can) why not buy a stack of reusable post-its that you can use AGAIN when you're done!
10. Shop Second-Hand where you can
Admittedly, second-hand shopping takes a bit more time, but the pay-off can be HUGE for both your wallet and the planet. This can go for anything from pots and pans to clothing. Did you know that 1 garbage truck of clothing is burned or added to a landfill every second? That's a lot! That'll surely make you think twice about those impulse clothing purchases.
Bonus (cha-ching!): Choose Cloth Napkins
This is the easiest thing in the world...and can be fun and cute to boot. You can go plain or patterned, used or new, big or small. You choose! But it's such a simple, yet impactful swap! Don't worry...I'm not suggesting you stop using toilet paper... just napkins! ;-) You throw them right in with load of laundry.
These are some cocktail napkins my friend made for me from extra fabric she had in her house. She thought of it one afternoon and whipped them up that same day. She is the best! I love them so much.
There ya have it, my 10 ideas for becoming greener by the day. Some of these would make great holiday or special occasion gifts. They're extremely simply swaps that can be made gradually and are completely doable. They are healthier for the planet, and for you as well. And for some, after that initial investment they'll save you money time and time again.