We live in a throw-away culture. Think for a moment – the second our technology starts malfunctioning, we’re ready to throw it out or trade it in for another one. We can gain an environmentally conscious attitude just by making small switches in our day-to-day lives. Here are 8 simple swaps you can take to make a huge difference:
1. Reusable water bottles
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, single-use bottled water is the fastest-growing beverage in the United States, and only 10% of the bottles are recycled. Switch to a reusable bottle to help cut down the waste of plastic.
2. Reusable grocery bags
Bring your own bags, and remember not to recycle grocery bags along with regular recyclables. It’s not that they can’t be recycled, they just require a different collection process. Simply return the bag to a local store – Target, for example, collects plastic bags among other recyclables – and they’ll get it to the right place.
3. Alternatives to gift paper
Because metallic gift paper cannot be recycled, wrap gifts in reusable items such as gift bags and baskets, scarves, decorated paper bags, and fabric scraps. And get resourceful! If your gift includes a handbag, use that to hold any smaller gifts.
4. Reusable coffee pods
Though the single-serve coffee pods are popular today, most are not biodegradable or recyclable. If you don’t want to give up the pods for convenience sake, you can always buy reusable pods to fill with your own coffee grounds. You’ll be saving money this way, too!
5. Reusable coffee cups
You probably saw this one coming. If you get your coffee in the office, skip the Styrofoam or plastic cups and bring in your own washable mug. If you get your coffee out, bring a travel mug and they’ll gladly use that instead of a paper cup. The best part? Some places like Starbucks even reward you for it. Get a $0.10 cup discount each time you bring and use your own mug and the popular coffee joint.
6. Tupperware on date night
Bring your own container to pack up leftovers at restaurants. Most to-go boxes are difficult to recycle, so opt to pack your own Tupperware just in case you don’t finish your meal.
7. Washable partyware
Plates and containers soiled with food just can’t be recycled. Use washable plates, cups, silverware, and cloth napkins – yes, it’s a little extra time spent washing the dishes after a party, but the environment will thank you!
8. Side sippin’
Among the many places plastic straws have traveled after being thrown out, in the stomachs of 70% of seabirds and 30% of turtles is possibly the most shocking (learn more here). They just can’t be recycled — they are too lightweight to be processed by mechanical sorters. Opt to drink from the cup or use washable straws.