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This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year…. It’s EARTH WEEK! That’s exciting to me not only because I am in the sustainability space and love to share with people why caring for our planet is essential to our daily existence, but also because it’s a week dedicated to bringing awareness to issues that are affecting our planet and the people in it in a negative way. It’s also a time to celebrate the Earth’s beauty, brilliance, and wildness. To check out my Instagram post celebrating Earth Day this year, click HERE.
Out of the many topics that you can explore when you want to start diving into where we can collectively help improve the planet, I like to focus on plastic pollution. I just saw an instagram post by blueland recently that helped explain the situation; plastic trash is literally piling up around us and it has a significant negative impact on the creatures that accidentally ingest or tangled in it. Not to mention the negative health effects of plastic exposure to our own bodies.
Why should we care about the amount of plastic we use on a daily basis?
I like writing down facts pulled from articles and studies regarding this issue, but sometimes you just need a video to really drive home the point. Check out this video with narrator, Jeff Bridges, below:
It’s easy to watch this video and feel overwhelmed about how your impact alone could actually make a difference. That’s the thing though, you’re impact alone WILL NOT make a difference. Yep I said it. BUT, yes there is a “but”. Your actions can encourage others to take similar action and collectively we WILL make an impact. It’s important that we not only live our lives making more sustainable and environmentally conscious decisions, but that we also open up to the people around us and encourage them to do the same.
So where do I start??
Remember when I said that making lifestyle changes can be overwhelming sometimes? That’s ok! Making changes can be hard, but in the same way that you developed habits before, you can develop more eco-friendly habits going forward. Check out five tips below for how you can start to incorporate more sustainable practices into your daily life. From there you’ll start to recognize certain concepts and it will just snowball from there.
You got this!
TIP #1 – Get yourself a reusable water bottle (that’s not made of plastic)
This is always a good place to start and you might be rolling your eyes thinking, “Really? I know this one”. Well great! Look at you already starting to think more sustainably! Anyways, using a reusable water bottle is a great place to start reducing your daily plastic use. According to an article by Trevor Nace from the Guardian back in 2017, “Humans produce almost 20,000 plastic bottles every second.” That figure was projected to increase dramatically over the coming years with “annual consumption of plastic bottles set to top half a trillion by 2021.” This refers to NEW plastic bottles. When you think about the plastic bottles that have already been produced and will take hundreds of years to disintegrate, that’s a lot of plastic piling up in our ecosystems for hundreds of years.
So how much of an impact can I make by using a reusable water bottle? If we do some math, or in my case because I’m not a math wiz I’m going to refer to an Arcadia blog post, “Since you, the average human, need to drink four plastic bottles per day, you would be saving 1,460 plastic bottles per year by using a reusable bottle. Even if you only purchased one plastic bottle per day, you’re still wasting more than 300 non-reusable containers that could be spared with one reusable bottle.”
TIP #2 – Ditch the plastic straws!
I think we all watched that video of the turtle getting a plastic straw yanked out of his nostril. If you haven’t, you can check it out HERE. This video came out when I was first starting to become a more conscious consumer and practice more sustainable living. It was a real eye opener for me; it made me realize the small choices I make (like using a disposable straw) can have a greater impact on the world around me and actually have the potential to cause damage. When the USA alone uses over 500 million disposable straws a day, it puts into perspective how much plastic straw waste is actually piling up around us and entering our waterways. You might be saying “it’s just one straw”, but millions of other people are saying the same thing, so is it really just “one straw”? Also, in case you were wondering, Starbucks has already started to phase out plastic straws and other companies are beginning to follow suit. You’ll actually be way ahead of the general public and fully prepared with your reusable straw by the time these changes come into effect!
If you’re ready to consider an alternative to plastic straws, there are a plethora of plastic free options out there, although stainless steel straws have become my favorite alternative. I use them around the house, I have one in my purse (in its own pouch) for when we go out, and I even have a few for Lila on hand.
TIP #3 – Stock up on a few reusable tote bags
From grocery stores and businesses to small boutiques and high end designers, reusable tote bags are available almost everywhere. With about 1 trillion plastic bags used annually across the globe, thank goodness reusable tote bags are making their way into the general public’s way of life. Reusable tote bags are extremely versatile, but where they tend to have the most impact is when they are used for transporting groceries. By using reusable tote bags at the grocery store, it eliminates the need for plastic transport bags. Try keeping a few in your car so you remember them when you make a trip to the store or write a note at the top of your grocery list to remember to bring several tote bags with you on your next grocery trip.
TIP #4 – Put the plastic sandwich bags back on the shelf and invest in reusable “baggies”
When I started talking to people about incorporating sustainable products into their daily routine a few years ago, I was asked about an alternative to plastic bags over and over again. Unfortunately, up until this last year, finding a useful alternative to plastic baggies seemed impossible. There have always been alternatives out there, like using glass containers, but there is a reason why Ziplocks are flying off the shelves. If simple glass containers would work for everyone, then the search would be over. In calling a spade a spade though, people are going to continue buying plastic baggies unless there is a similar alternative out available. Well, like I mentioned before, this past year I finally found a couple of plastic-free replacements that will help people put the box of ZipLocks back on the shelf.
The first option is by the company Responsible Products and they have released a compostable version of disposable baggies. The idea is that they go into the compost bin instead of straight into the trash. This is a great alternative if you utilize composting services in your area, but the main criticism of these is that they are still “disposable”. One of the goals when living sustainably is to consume less. With these compostable baggies, we are redirecting their end destination which is great, but we are still consuming the same amount of product as before. These are great if you are starting to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.
The second option is a reusable silicone bag. You may have seen these popping up in your local grocery store like I have in the past year. What is great about these? They are reusable, plastic free, and come in a variety of sizes that can accommodate everything that had you reaching for plastic baggies in the first place. The best part about these bags is by far their reusability. Instead of filling up your trash can with single-use plastic baggies, reach for a reusable silicone option that can be washed in the dishwasher time and time again.
TIP #5 – Use plastic free dog waste bags for Fido
If you care for, own or have owned a dog, you know the responsibility we have when it comes to cleaning up after them. Unfortunately, not everyone lives by that code, but to the ones who do, thank you!! Although, have you ever thought about why it’s normal for us to use plastic bags to clean up after our dogs? What I am actually saying is that it doesn’t make sense to put something that is supposed to decompose (dog poop) into something that will take hundreds of years to decompose (plastic bags). I mean seriously, why would we want that piling up around us whether it’s in a landfill or not? Let that stuff decompose!
To check out my in depth review and breakdown of plastic free dog waste bags > click HERE.
And that’s a wrap…
I hope you feel inspired to start making sustainable changes in your life. There is a plastic free swap for everything out there that has convinced us that plastic is the only option. Plastic was only created about a century ago; simple swaps to more sustainable alternatives should not be so daunting! I hope you feel encouraged to use a few of these tips and to pass them along to your friends and family. What a great way to celebrate Earth Week and beyond!
To get you started, I pulled together a few of my favorite items from each of the TIPS I listed above. Check them out and give them a try!
Organic Cotton and Jute Reusable Canvas Tote
Hydroflask Reusable Water Bottle
Give a Sh!t Dog Waste Bags
Stainless Steel Straw with Organic Cotton Sleeve and Cleaner
Click HERE to subscribe to my blog for future zero waste, sustainable, and plastic-free alternatives to products that we use everyday.
Until next time,