Are you an aspiring zero-waster who is overwhelmed with starting this eco-friendly lifestyle? It can seem overwhelming, we get it. But no worries there! We have compiled a few easy tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint. It’s important to recognize that even the simplest swaps go a long way, such as not using single-use plastics, bringing your own to-go containers/jars to restaurants, making your own household products, and having reusable bags. By making these adjustments to your lifestyle you can dramatically change our environment and the lives of the beings who inhabit this earth. Remember y’all… there’s no planet B.
Use Bamboo Utensils
Bamboo has a variety of different uses that make it a way better choice than single-use plastic utensils. Unlike plastic, Bamboo is a highly renewable resource due to its fast growth and sustainable farming. Thankfully, a large percent of farmed bamboo doesn’t include the use of pesticides and it is 100% biodegradable/compostable. In comparison to plastic (which never completely breaks down), when bamboo is composted, it biodegrades into nutrient-rich soil that nourishes plant growth. These utensils will actually save you money in the long run because of their unique kitchen properties, like being stain, heat, and odor resistant. Pack em’ in lunch boxes, use em’ for work events, travel, and in the kitchen!
Now I know we have all heard the phrase “B.Y.O.B.”, but have you ever heard “B.Y.O.C.” or Bring Your Own Cup!? At your local bars (juice or alcohol), you can totally practice sustainability by bringing your own reusable cup for drinks (we prefer kombucha on tap!) Most bars use thin plastic cups to serve their drinks which can add up to a mass of plastic after the nights over. Now imagine the plastic consumption EVERY SINGLE DAY. Through our experience of bringing our own cups, most bartenders will cooperate and make your drink as requested. However, we make sure to watch so they don’t forget to use our cup. This is a great alternative when getting multiple drinks because you can be zero-waste throughout the day & night.
DIY Laundry Detergent vs Chemical Detergent
Laundry can be sustainable as heck! Commercial detergents contain tons of bad chemicals for your body and environment such as petrochemicals, carcinogens, and fragrances. Although the word, “fragrance” usually has a good connotation, these fragrances used in detergents contain compounds that are extremely toxic to the body. By making your own DIY detergent, you can use a cheaper and greener alternative to these chemical cocktails found in most households. And a little bonus- you can store your mixture in reusable jars/containers instead of plastic! Here is what we do:
- 1 castile soap bar (palm-oil free)
- 2 cups baking soda- so inexpensive & found in most bulk stores
- 2 cups washing soda- cheap cleaning solution that does a great job of getting rid of stains
- 2 cups Borax
- Optional- 10 drops of your favorite essential oil
- Finely grate the soap and whisk all the ingredients together!
Reusable Produce Bags vs Plastic Bags
Probably one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste is to start using reusable bags for bulk items! If you’re not sure of the magnitude that solely plastic bags have on the environment, get this. A plastic bag takes 15-1000 years to break down depending on the environment. Even at that rate, they don’t even entirely break down! The bags form into smaller particles that stay in the soil. Many marine animals and birds confuse plastic bags for food and consume it. It then goes on to block their digestion and causes them to die, or they can even drown due to becoming tangled in plastic.
Not only are reusable bags good for grocery runs, but they can also be used for storage of items in your household. You can easily make your own bags from second-hand fabric/old t-shirts which are cheap and it allows you to customize the sizes of your bags. One reusable bag has the lifespan of 700 plastic ones, so you can really make a difference here!
Reusable To-Go Container
Have you ever been to a restaurant and realized that your mind was bigger than your belly and you are in desperate need of a to-go box? A reusable container is a super easy and sustainable solution to using regular styrofoam or single-use plastic to-go containers. This hack makes bringing home leftovers so much more ethical. All you have to do is ask your server to forego the takeout container and just use yours… that simple!
We hope you incorporate these easy tips! Please check out our Instagram, @Sustainable_Duo for more tips to incorporate into your daily life.
Post by Carly Bergman and Julia Reggio, Sustainable Duo intern.