For a generation stuck in a race, recycling feels like shin splints - freakin’ painful. Especially when the majority of people don’t know where to put their coffee cup, so they just toss it wherever is convenient. According to the New Plastics Economy, 8 million tonnes of plastic are leaked into the oceans every year - which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. And although the sectioned bins in malls and outside store fronts set off good intentions, it takes one person to dump their unfinished coffee in the wrong bin, sending that straight to the sea. And because that happens so frequently, it is time to reconsider recycling. We all know the glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising, so what’s more important, hitting up Starbucks drive-thru for a to-go cup or deforestation? We need to start dropping our single-use habits and learn ways to reduce waste. In relation to last weeks post, I put together a list of sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives for you to consider.
9 Ways to Reduce Waste
About 50 billion plastic water bottles are used every year in the U.S. alone, and only 23% of that will be recycled, which means, 38 billion water bottles end up on some plastic mountain or the floor of our ocean. Why is this a thing? Simple fix - BYOWB (bring your own water bottle). There are things to consider when sourcing a good water bottle. I recommend staying away from plastic water bottles, especially ones with BPA. Glass is good but you run the risk of shattering it. The best option would be to source a stainless steal water bottle from Klean Kanteen or S’Well.
Bamboo is the fastest growing plant that requires very little TLC. And because it’s considered grass, it grows right back after being cut, making it an incredibly sustainable resource. And unlike our plastic toothbrushes that account for some pretty serious waste, the Woobamboo is 90% less plastic to worry about because it is naturally biodegradable. You can also check out Brush With Bamboo, and The Environmental Toothbrush.
Along with cutting down waste, something else to consider is unhealthy and potentially unsafe chemicals. Unfortunately, there are a fair share of chemicals in our commercial toothpaste, one of them being Proplyene Glycol, an active component in antifreeze. And even if you purchase a chemical-free toothpaste, you still commit to some tedious waste. I’ve got two solutions. Source toothpaste that comes in a glass jar: Nelson Naturals, or get crafty and make your own.
Last week, I gave you the lowdown about your tampons, and unfortunately, I have to break it to you that your sanitary napkins aren’t any better. They’re made up of bleached rayon, cotton, and plastic, in fact, one conventional sanitary pad contains the equivalent of four plastic bags. Not to mention, it nests next to one of the thinnest layers of your skin, then sits and sweats with minimal ventilation. Ladies, it’s time you move on. You can check out Jade & Pearl, they have reusable sea sponges. You can also invest in a Diva Cup, which works just as well, or check out Luna Pads for another eco-friendly option.
Stabilo Green Boss highlighters are made from 83% recycled plastic, plus they are easily refillable. Imagen has pens made from 100% PLA corn-based material. And Eco Pens has a wide variety of recycled stationary.
Like mentioned above with BYOWB, BYOCC (bring your own coffee cup) simply because the world needs you to and this needs to become more of a thing. If there is one thing you can take accountability for at 6am, it’s your coffee. Plus, coffee in your own cup means your drink stays warmer longer, and if Friday morning is feeling like a Monday then you can bring a thermos and save at least 3 cups from hitting the landfill.
Very few things are better than restaurant leftovers, that is, until the waiter brings you a styrofoam container for the remnants of your meal. You can easily avoid this unnecessary (and unrecycyable) waste by bringing your own Pyrex or Tupperware. And if you’re standing in line at the foodcourt, you can skip your commitment to the plastic utensils by investing in a bamboo spork. Also, please pass on straws and make a note for no plastic utensils when you're ordering your Sunday afternoon Skip the Dishes.
DIY Cleaning Supplies
Sure, your store bought cleaning supplies probably make you feel like you’re really killing dirt, but that's not all you're killing; the harsh chemicals, like sodium borate, formaldehyde and ammonium are not only harming your air and environment, but also your skin, eyes and nose. I suggest ditching whatever commercial product you’ve invested in and check out this list of homemade cleaning solutions.
Hand-me-downs? Absolutely! Who doesn't like free shopping! Clothing swaps don't have to be from your older sister or distant cousin, you could do a clothing swap with a group of your friends. And whatever is unspoken for can go to your local second hand store, where you can shop too, because charity stores are practically the vintage version of Forever21. The reality is, the amount of water and chemicals that go into producing one single shirt is alarming. Could you drink 2700 litres of water in one sitting? According to a study, your cotton shirt did, before you purchased it.
Plastics production has surged from 15 million tonnes in 1964, to 311 million tonnes in 2014. And it is estimated to double in the next 20 years. As a society, we’re constantly running mach speed to the next best thing; along the way, we’ve dropped mindful living - we’ve become incredibly disconnected about how truly delicate our planet is and now, we’re beginning to pay for it. We are the only living species that actually knows better, so we need to start doing better: By becoming accountable for the waste we produce! Dropping your trash in a bin and walking away is not good enough anymore. Especially if you don’t know where your item truly belongs. Investing in the knowledge of recycling and adopting sustainable options to your everyday needs makes hope for the possibility of a greener future.