There’s no denying that our planet is reaching crisis level with regard to pollution, plastic waste, and global warming. There is now over 1 ton of plastic trash on earth for each person that inhabits it! Something has got to change, but single-use plastic is a huge part of our lifestyles, and zero-waste living can seem daunting and unattainable. A great place to start taking responsibility for your own impact on the earth is to consider easy, “sustainable switches” that you can implement right away with minimal effort and cost!
Reusable mugs instead of single-use coffee cups
For those of us with a coffee habit, a reusable coffee cup is a must! It only takes a few minutes to drink a cup of coffee, but the plastic or plastic-lined paper cup that most take-away coffee is served in will take years to break down in a landfill. In fact, your used disposable coffee cups will actually out-live you! In addition to their earth-friendly benefits, reusable mugs are much sturdier and less prone to spills that disposables. Plus, they keep your drinks warm/cold much longer. A reusable cup can also help you save money- some coffee shops will give you a discount for using your own cup!
Stasher bags instead of plastic baggies and containers
Single use plastic baggies are OUT and stasher bags are IN for conscious consumers who want to pack lunches and store food in a more earth-friendly way. Conventional plastic baggies pose a risk for wildlife and aren’t recyclable, plus, they leach chemicals into the food that is stored in them. Glass or stainless steel containers are good replacements for plastic food containers, but they are bulky and heavy. Stasher bags are made of pure silicone that won’t affect the integrity of your food even when heated or frozen (yes, you can even cook in stasher bags with no negative effects). One set of stasher bags will replace thousands of single use plastic baggies over their life span, and they can be recycled if they ever wear out.
Beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap
There are definitely times when plastic wrap has proven to be super convenient, like when you just wan to cover a bowl of salad or something oddly shaped needs protecting. What's sad is when that ultra thin, un-recyclable piece of plastic goes in the trash and piles up in the landfill or ends up polluting rivers and oceans. The good thing is, you can avoid all that without sacrificing convenience when you switch to bees wax wraps. Brands like Beeswrap (in the photo above) and Abeego use organic cotton fabric coated with beeswax and other natural resins to create the same clingy wrapping that makes life in the kitchen a breeze.
Reusable pads, period panties and menstrual cups instead of tampons and pads
The average woman has her period from 3-7 days per month, and goes through menstruation cycles from the age of 13 until the age of 51. That adds up to 456 total periods over 38 years. Another way of looking at the numbers is by the total amount of time that most women will be on their period- which is about 6.25 years of their lives! The most common period management products on the market are plastic-riddled pads and tampons in plastic tubes... which quickly add up in landfills and are loaded with toxic chemicals that are harmful to women's bodies.
Thankfully, there are other options- ones that are better for your body and the earth! Menstrual cups are amazing, but for days when you don’t want to mess with a cup (or if you need to ease into zero-waste period care with something a little less intimidating), washable fabric pads and specially designed period panties are easy and comfortable. You can find pads in fun prints and panties is sweet and sexy designs that will almost have you looking forward to your flow!
Reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones
In just one year, Americans use 35 billion plastic water bottles. Those pesky plastic bottles are right at the top of the list for the most commonly-found trash items polluting the world’s oceans- and they’re totally unnecessary when you’re outfitted with a stylish bottle from brands like Klean Kanteen, Hydro Flask, S'well, Miir or Healthy Human! Choose from a classic stainless steel water bottle that can last you a lifetime, or an insulated bottle that will keep your drinks hot or cold the whole day. Each one of the brands we mentioned is dedicated to the cause of reducing plastic waste all over the world- join the movement and take a simple step toward a trash-free life.
Reusable straws and utensils instead of the single-use versions
There are numerous campaigns at work these days calling out plastic straws for the harm they've done to the planet. We know you've seen them! Visions of that poor sea turtle with a straw stuck up its nose will stick with you. It's estimated that Americans use more than 500 million plastic straws every day, and because they're so light weight, they typically can't be recycled. Subsequently, straws are among the top 10 items found during beach clean ups. Plastic forks, spoons and knives aren't too far behind, so it's good thing that many restaurants are cutting back or even refusing to offer them along with public enemy number one (those pesky straws). You can keep the movement on track by carrying a reusable straw and eating utensils while you're on the go. You'll always be prepared to refuse that straw or plastic fork.
Cotton totes and produce bags instead of plastic bags
Eating lots of fruits and veggies is great for your health, but not-so-great for the environment when you bring produce home from the grocery store in thin plastic produce bags. Some produce can just be placed directly into your cart in “nature’s packaging”, like corn on the cob, oranges or bananas. For everything else, invest in a few cotton produce bags, plus a few totes to replace plastic/paper grocery bags. Watch your single-use plastic trash diminish on those weekly shopping trips!