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Lately, we seem to bombarded by terrible news about climate change and plastic pollution on a daily basis. While many have been inspired to do their part and take action, it can often feel hard to make a real difference—after all, what if we can’t afford to install solar panels on our roofs or buy an electric car? Fortunately, there are a ton of small things you can do, and the impact they have on our planet does add up.
You can start by tackling the amount of trash you produce on a day-to-day basis. The average American produces an average of 4.4 pounds of garbage a day, which amounts to over 1,500 pounds of waste produced a year by a single person. And as trash breaks down in landfills, it leeches harmful chemicals into the dirt below it—eventually ending up in our oceans and our food—and produces gases, like methane, which contribute to global warming.
To start cutting down on the trash you produce, consider swapping out several of these products you use on a day-to-day basis with more eco-friendly alternatives.
1. Travel Mugs & Water Bottles
If you like having a warm drink and a bottle of water with you while you’re out and about, consider picking up a reusable travel mug and water bottle rather than purchasing disposable ones on the go. You can find eco-friendly travel mugs for under $10 online, as well as plenty of BPA-free water bottles. Not only will you save the earth from unnecessary garbage, but you’ll save your fair share of cash by not purchasing bottles of water. Many cafés will also give you a small discount on your daily cup of coffee if you bring in your own cup. Cheers to that!
2. Reusable Produce & Grocery Bags
When you head to the grocery store, chuck a few reusable produce bags and grocery bags into your purse, rather than using plastic bags. Not only will the new additions help you cut back on trash, but you’ll save cash at stores that charge you for bags.
3. Bamboo Toothbrushes
Next time you replace your toothbrush, consider purchasing a bamboo toothbrush instead of your regular drugstore variety. You can buy them in bulk to save cash on toothbrushes, and their handles can be composted rather than thrown out.
4. Reusable Kitchen Cloths
If you’re constantly reaching for paper towels in the kitchen, stop! These reusable kitchen wipes are 100 percent biodegradable and each wipe can replace up to 15 rolls of paper towel, making them both more affordable and more eco-friendly. The cloths, which absorb up to 20 times their own weight in water, can be popped into the washing machine with detergent when dirty—up to 300 times—and then simply tossed into your compost bin when it gets too old.
5. Menstrual Cups
Sorry, men, this product swap is for ladies only—but man, is it a cool swap. Menstrual cups like the Diva Cup and the Luna Cup can replace both tampons and pads, and can be used for up to 12 hours before being rinsed out. The Luna Cup costs about the same as a single box of tampons, but can be reused for years, making it a worthy investment, for both your wallet and the earth.
6. Face Cloth Or Cotton Rounds
If you usually use disposable cotton pads to remove makeup or apply toners, you can easily swap them out with a makeup-removing microfiber cloth—these things are straight magic and work simply with hot water to strip makeup—and reusable cotton rounds. Once you’re done with them, simply toss them in the laundry with the rest of your clothes and enjoy fresh, clean rounds once they come back out. You’ll never have to purchase makeup remover or disposable cotton rounds again.
7. Reusable Cutlery & Straws
Stop accepting straws and disposable cutlery with your takeout, and instead bring your own! You can find reusable cutlery at very reasonable prices on Amazon, and reusable metal straws and linen napkins are also easy to find. If you carry your own empty container with you as well (any spare Tupperware will do, although you can also find lunch containers online), you can get rid of the large amount of waste you produce each time you grab takeout or take home leftovers.
While producing less waste may seem like a difficult endeavour, it’s not all that hard once you’ve prepared with a few key items. And once you’ve swapped, you’ll have trouble recalling why it ever seemed so difficult to begin with.