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Zero Waste is a scary word, but when I think about it I imagine a future where the ice caps are no longer melting, plastic bags aren’t being trashed into our oceans, and we make ourselves accountable for the pain we’ve caused to the planet. Call me a dreamer, but I believe this is possible. While we could talk about all the ways this is not just about the consumers but the companies who take advantage of our innocence in the hopes of bigger profits, a small difference can be made by making simple switches to daily life.
I promise you, all recommendations I’m giving you I have done myself. I’m also very aware that I could be doing 20x more for the environment, but we all start somewhere! So these are the changes I’ve found to be easiest for my lifestyle, it might be completely different for you! My goal is to cut down on the negative impact, and hopefully documenting will keep me on track. I like remind myself that according to one estimate, each American produces annually: 80 – 100 pounds of food waste; 50 – 100 pounds of rubbish; 300 – 1,200 pounds of wood or coal ash — up to 1,400 pounds per person. In Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, each citizen produces annually: 141 pounds of wet garbage, 1,443 pounds of ash, and 88 pounds of dry rubbish — a total of 1,672 pounds.
So on that note, let’s get into ways to change!
- Use that Reusable water bottle in the back of your cupboard:
- I know it’s there, remember you bought it on impulse that one time but got annoyed with having to fill it up. Well now is the time to bring it back out because Americans throw out 26.76 pounds of plastic yearly. With a water bottle your not just saving the planet by filling it up everywhere you go but it helps when going through security at the airport to have an EMPTY water bottle. You’re saving yourself money by doing this. These MIRA water bottles are very similar to what I have but just start using one!
- Reusable Coffee Mug’s are a thing too:
- Without repeating myself, coffee mugs give you the same freedom as water bottles. Though with bringing your own mug to Starbucks you’ll get a .10 Cent discount (which adds up). These KeepCup Mugs are cute and plastic free, so I promise you won’t get sick of taking it everywhere with you.
- Reusable Shopping Bags
- Yes, they sell the plastic bags for 20cents that you can reuse, and those are great but what will last you longer (with not a single drop of plastic) is a cotton tote (or twenty). Each American uses 5lbs of paperbags and 24lbs of plastic bags each year. Plastic is made from petroleum and rarely recycled. So, maybe it’s time to pick up some reusable bags. This is the exact bag I have and bring with me everywhere because it’s so cute. But if you’re looking for something plain here is a link to a 4 pack.
- Read on a Kindle
- I’m a writer, therefore I’m a reader. I love paperback books as much as the next person, but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m trying to buy books that are new in Kindle form. I love having my kindle fire because it holds about a dozen different books along with a few movies. This comes in handy when I’m on long flights because I try to pack light. I have the Kindle Fire 7.
- Travel Utensils are the future.
- Once again in the fight of ‘plastic can’t be recycled’ try to imagine what happens after your one time use utensils get tossed, they’re similar to the clingy ex who won’t let go. Your plastic thinks about the short time it had with you. The best way to stop the cycle is to invest in utensils that can travel with you. I purchased this 3 piece set (chopsticks instead of a knife) I’d recommend it! Cuts down on plastic and slides into it’s container, plus all of it can be cleaned back at the hostel.
- Bamboo Toothbrush
- Billions of plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill, while even more end up in our oceans. Just watch this short documentary called “Journey of a Toothbrush – A Short Film About Plastic Pollution” Then cry a little on the inside and buy a bamboo toothbrush.
- Menstrual Cup
- Forget endless purchases, plastics and packaging. This is the one thing I wish I learned about at 12 years old instead of right now because this is 20 times easier. Close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. When wrapped in plastic bags, feminine hygiene waste can take centuries to biodegrade. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons over her lifetime, leaving behind residue far beyond her lifespan. (x) This is one place where I’ll tell you to research because no women has the same body, and all menstrual cups are different (Though I use this one in case you were curious).
- Stainless Steel Straws
- Between stainless steel straws and just going without a straw, THIS should never be a thing. I find that stainless steel straws last forever and I find I don’t feel the need for straws as much as I used to.
I know I’ve thrown a lot at you, between youtube videos of sea turtles and toothbrushes alongside links to amazing products I love in the zero waste movement. This isn’t the most lighthearted subject but our planet is dying, once we start making small steps and noticing the plastic we use on a daily basis we can make people accountable. Educating yourself is the best thing you can do and I hope we can learn together what we can do to help the planet. Never forget, we only have one planet.
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Until Next Time!