10 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly
'Dear kids, sorry about the turtles.'
This is my statement. We have one shot to make the planet one we can strive on and live on for all our years to come and the generations behind us. I have taken the plunge to live a minimal waste lifestyle. This includes replacing my plastics with bamboo, recycling the containers in which my groceries come in, refusing bags when I shop, and using reusable cups and containers for my guilty Starbucks pleasure. The trash we have produced has created TWO vortexs of TRASH in the Pacific Ocean!
Read the following statement:
“No one knows how much debris makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is too large for scientists to trawl. In addition, not all trash floats on the surface. Denser debris can sink centimeters or even several meters beneath the surface, making the vortex’s area nearly impossible to measure. About 80 percent of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. Trash from the coast of North America takes about six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while trash from Japan and other Asian countries takes about a year.”
The plastic in these vortexs will NEVER break down completely. It will just break down into smaller and smaller pieces, harming the systems of every animal in that ocean. Is this how you want to be remembered? Is this your legacy? Is this your purpose?
So here are ten ways to be a little more Eco-Friendly.
And here is a website you can visit to begin your new life.
1. Ditch the plastic straws.
I know you all have seen the video of a man pulling out a plastic straw from a sea turtle's nose. This is where your straws go, guys. To the ocean. Plastic straws are the number one source of plastic waste. There is no true need for plastic straws. They are simply a convenience for us. Now I love sipping out of straws as much as the next guy, so I have a solution for you.
Go reusable. Whether it's a hard plastic straw that you already own, or a bamboo straw, or an aluminum straw, go reusable. All these materials are much better for you to sip out of anyways. If you really break down what those disposable plastic straws are made out of, it's simply quite gross.
2. Swap out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one.
What is the purpose of a toothbrush? To clean your teeth, right? What if I told you that the very tool you are using to clean your teeth can also be making your mouth much dirtier. The plastic that toothbrushes are made out of is a very porous plastic. This means that over time you brush your teeth, you are giving all those germs in your mouth a new home to live on, and grow on, and over time, you put it back in your mouth. These superbugs are infecting you.
Bamboo straws are solid. Bacteria cannot grow in the crevices because there are none! They are also made out of a "full circle" material. Meaning when you're done with your toothbrush, you can recycle it and it will be made into a whole new toothbrush.
3. Use bamboo in the kitchen.
Again, that hard, porous plastic. Chances are you cook raw meat with these utensils. Sure, you can run them through the dishwasher, hand wash them, whatever makes you feel like you have cleaned the raw meat off, but you never truly do. It's always there. Plastic cooking utensils also have the ability to melt or wear down after prolonged use, making the life span not as long as a bamboo utensil and even putting tiny particles of plastic into the food you are cooking. Bamboo is one of the strongest materials. With the proper care, it can last you years. And you won't get that white dusty look the plastic utensils do.
4. All-Natural Cleaning Products
This is such a huge one. Switching to all natural cleaning products was the best decision I ever made. Cleaning my home with harsh chemicals was never an enjoyable experience for me. All the bleach and strong scents made me feel like my home wasn't ever cleaned. It made me feel like I detonated a huge chemical bomb in my home and prayed for some good results. All-natural cleaning products reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses during production and are better for your home, your body, and your pets. Chances are, if you have all natural cleaning products, they come in a reusable, recyclable container!!! Woohoo! back to that "full circle" idea.
5. Save your coffee grounds.
This was such a huge surprise to me! I am an everyday coffee drinker. I started noticing how much coffee grounds I throw away and thought, there has to be a better way. Further research showed that I can save ALL those coffee grounds and reuse them!!! Every evening, I empty my coffee grounds into a mason jar and refrigerate them. I use these coffee grounds to fertilize my plants, make face masks, body scrubs, soaps, etc. All these things can be made using OTHER natural ingredients and stored in reusable containers!!
6. Carry silverware with you.
This is the hardest one for some people. I can understand why. I work in a mall. I do my fair share of "take out" food. Nothing makes me cringe more than plastic silverware. It's uncomfortable to eat with, it's wasteful, it's, again, porous. Personally, I carry bamboo utensils with me and use them to avoid plastic silverware. To take it one step further, I either recycle the containers the food came in or, if I'm lucky, I can wash them out and use them for future food storage use!!
7. Reusable Shopping Bags
This one is so important. How many people do you know have a bag of plastic bags hanging in their pantry in their kitchen? Way too many. These bags aren't even convenient. They rip, they don't hold much, they're flimsy. Most importantly, they kill. They kill the sea life. The sea turtles choke on them thinking they are jellyfish due to their poor eyesight. They get wrapped on plants and suffocate them. They soar through the air on the highway and, before you know it, your vision is blocked by a bag and you're blind going 70 mph.
Please, use reusable shopping bags.
8. Farmers Markets and Bulk Shops
I don't know where you, my reader, live, but around here we have a market called "Fresh Thyme." Fresh Thyme is my holy grail. I waltz on in there with my reusable produce bags, mason jars, and glass storage containers, and collect fresh fruits and veggies, pasta, rice, nuts, quinoa, and even some meat when I'm feeling bold about my dinner. No waste is produced by me at all. When it's warm outside, I often visit the farmer's markets too. Oh how I love the farmer's market. The corn is just to die for. Again, no waste produced.
9. Read 'No Impact Man'
This book is incredible. This man has taken zero waste living to a whole new extreme. Currently, I am living a "minimal waste" lifestyle. But this is a gateway to the real deal. Zero waste. Nirvana would be no impact. This man evaluates every "normality" of the human race and calculates how much waste it produces. His pivotal moment was when he was sitting in the hallway, with three bags of trash, wondering how on earth he had gotten to this point. Producing so much waste for five minutes of convenience. It is okay if you don't want to reach the Nirvana of no impact. This book is still a massive inspiration. Seeing someone change their entire lifestyle to not leave a carbon footprint really validates the fact that you can produce as little waste as possible if thats all you want to do.
I saved this one for the end because this is a dead giveaway. Everyone knows they need to recycle, but not many people know their resources. Most things you are currently using can be recycled. If you live in an apartment like me, you probably don't have a recycling company that comes through to collect your big blue bin of plastics and papers and aluminums. BUT, you still can recycle. There are plenty of recycling bins located EVERYWHERE. Sure, you have to drive there, but thats such a small price to pay for the future of our planet. If you want to take it a step further you can even walk!
Let me tell you a story.
When I first started this journey, I did research and found a certified recycling dumpster that was just down the street from me. I just so happened to have an old trashcan that we no longer use. My vessel for my greener life. I filled up my vessel and drove over to my recycling dumpster. I peered in one of the eight windows and there was .... not much in there. I will admit, I felt a little defeated. Is no one recycling? Three days later I went back to dump some more. The dumpster was FULL! Up to the windows and even a couple of them had to be shut to prevent the materials form spilling out! Three days after that, I had some more, not much, but I was going to be driving past it. I couldn't even dump that day. The dumpster was stuffed with recycled materials. All eight windows were shut. I tried sliding one open but was almost covered in plastic bottles and aluminum cans. This made my heart glow. We are making a difference.
Recycling goes beyond paper, plastic, aluminum, and cardboard.
It extends to your technology as well.
Apple has started a new movement called Apple GiveBack. They will take your old devices (even if it's not apple products!!) and send them to a robot named Daisy. Daisy takes apart devices and melts them to create materials to create new devices. If EVERYONE recycles their devices, we will get to a point where we never have to take from our planet again.
You have to be fearless.
Making this drastic change to your life can cause some eyebrow raises and interrogating questions. This change has to be something that you want to do. Be passionate. When people ask you why you refused the straw at Starbucks, or why you carry a bamboo fork and spoon with you everywhere you go, tell them. Tell them about the polar bears starving, tell them about the sea turtles suffocating, tell them that the amazon rainforest's expiration date is just 40 years from now because we have torn down 20 percent of its trees already for more resources. Tell them how important it is to create a better future for our children. You may feel like you aren't making an impact, but I PROMISE you are. Be fearless.