Reusable Water Bottles
These babies come in so many shapes and sizes now. They help reduce the amount of plastic consumption, while still being chic and fashionable. They also keep your drinks colder – or hotter – than any plastic water bottle would. Bonus - many places give a small discount to people who bring in their own bottle so go out there, get a reusable bottle, and help save the planet one cup at a time!
Reusable Grocery Bags
This one is such an easy switch and the super markets make it convenient for you, too. There are usually bags available for purchase at the cash registers for like $1! I always put my bags in the trunk of my car because I don’t even have to think about remembering to bring them when it comes time to go to the market – they are always right there. There are also a few places that give you a bag discount to entice you to BYOB (bring your own bag).
As many of you might know, plastic contains chemicals that can easily contaminate food, drinks, cleaners, etc. Glass doesn't have this problem and they are much easier to reuse with no worries of chemicals contaminating anything. When it comes to storing food, glass containers are also much easier to clean compared to plastic. This is not to say throw out all of your plastic and get all glass - no, no, no. You want to reuse as much as you can, plastic or not. Just next time when you are deciding on what to buy...always choose glass! It's essentially a one-time investment because they last forever.
Recycle Recyclable Items
This one is a big one. A lot of people don’t know what items are supposed to be recycled and which aren’t. This leads a lot of recycle companies to just throw away loads of trash and recyclable items in the landfill because they don’t want to sort through the trash. It would help immensely if everyone was aware of what they are throwing in the recycle to make it easier and more efficient. Here are Eugene's rules of recycling, but there should also be labels on trash cans or the item you are looking to throw away!
All we can ask is to think before you print. There are, of course, many things that need to be printed and electronic versions will not suffice. With that being said, though, there are many, many pieces of printed paper that are never even used - so it's just waste at that point. So, before you print something, just ask yourself if it's necessary and will be put to use!
Stainless Steel, Glass, & Bamboo Straws
I feel like so many people are already making this switch, but if you haven’t – get on it! Reusable straws are super trendy right now and if there is any trend to get on, it’s this one. It helps the environment and also the aesthetic of your drinks. There are a variety of different straws you can purchase and continue to reuse, so get to shopping!
People tend to reach for plastic bags a lot throughout the day because of the convenience factor - just pop stuff in there and get rid of it later. Well, there are many companies that have helped with this problem and made reusable bags! Stasher Bags is one of my favorite (Peep 25% off for Earth Day). You can put them in the fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, and dishwasher without being damaged. However, if Stasher doesn't fit your needs, there are plenty of reusable bag companies out there to choose from - Amazon is your place for that!
We mentioned this in our 5 Reason to Shop Local blog and we'll mention it again because it's pretty awesome. Local farmer's markets don't require as much gas or energy for transportation than big corporations do because "local". It's also usually a smaller business that is selling food and can tell you exactly how they grow their produce. You can then choose which produce to buy and support based on how friendly they are to their food and the environment.
Natural cleaning products are so beneficial. With store bought cleaners, they are usually in eco-friendly packaging and made with no toxins - whoop! There are a lot of different brands that target these products, so any of your local markets should have a large variety! With DIY cleaners, it's even better! You are saving money, you know exactly what is going into your cleaner, and it can be in fully reusable, eco-friendly containers.
Walk & Bike
This tip may not be for everyone. It's clear that not everyone can walk or bike to every location they need to be at. However, there are many times when you can! If you could cut back on vehicle transportation once or twice a week - amazing! Remember, you should only do as much as you can. However much you can contribute to helping the environment is truly so helpful.
This tip is so simple and easy to implement. Just being aware of how much waste you actually collect during the day can have a huge impact on you. A lot of people underestimate the amount of trash they accumulate over a 24 hour period. It may be an interesting activity to set aside a bucket and throw all the waste in there over a days time. The results are shocking!
Say No to Disposable Items
This is a big one when it comes to dining out. Disposable utensils make it easier on the restaurant or cafe and you, but it's not always needed. When given a plastic water cup, you can kindly ask for a glass one and they will most likely have one. When given a straw for your drink, opt out! You can just sip from the cup and reduce your waste consumption. If you are getting take-out food, don't have them throw in a pack of disposable utensils because you can just use the ones you have at your house. It's little things that you could do everyday that makes a difference.
It's easy to use more water than you actually need, but it's so much better to conserve when you can. Earth is about 70% water, but those resources aren't necessarily promised forever when people take advantage. If we can all pledge to take shorter showers, wash laundry less, turn off the sink when not needed, and use the dishwasher only when necessary, we've done a lot to help. There is a longer list of things you can do to conserve water, here.
This doesn't mean become a vegan / vegetarian. To put it simply, raising livestock and selling meat takes a lot of resources and energy. There is a lot of greenhouse gas emission that comes from it, so decreasing the amount of meat you consume weekly can be beneficial. Also, plants rock, taste delicious, and don't require nearly the same amount of energy or resources as livestock does. So upping our veggie and fruit intake while also reducing some pollution seems like a win-win to me! With everyone doing a little part to help the environment, this can hopefully lead to big changes.
Spread the Word
This is an important one. People listen to other people. So, imagine if we told all of our friends how cool the three R's are, and they told their friends, and so on. We could be educating so many people about the benefits of implementing simple changes into our daily lives. It starts with you and I! Take it upon yourself to help others be better at reducing, reusing, and recycling and the outcome can be tremendous!
Reducing, reusing, and recycling seem like such easy concepts that you learn as kids, but it can be hard to actually apply it to your real life. Plastic and other waste makes things easy and convenient, but terrible for the environment. If we can all just take tiny steps toward a greener lifestyle, that’ll make some change happen.
We can’t have a few people doing it all, we need everyone doing whatever they can to help.