This or That: Easy Substitutions for Wasteful Items
There is a huge misconception that being eco-friendly and making environmentally conscious decisions involves a great deal of effort and constant energy. So many people do not make any efforts to be more environmentally friendly because they believe that it is an all or nothing deal. This could not be further from the truth! Every little decision we make has the potential to do more good than we know or can see.
We may see it as ‘just one water bottle,’ but we see it as one more water bottle of many that we have wasted throughout our life; if we make the better decision to use a reusable water bottle now, we can a difference. Having a positive mindset when it comes to environmentally conscious decisions better enables me to make those positive decisions and make a difference, no matter how big or small.
There are so many easy substitutions for wasteful items that we may not even realize we are consuming and wasting every single day. To explain further, single use plastic are plastic items only made to last one single time. The great thing about being more environmentally cautious when it comes to single use plastics is there are already so many existing alternatives we can use! Here are a few of them:
This: Plastic Water Bottle or That: Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles save plastic, time and money. We’ve heard it countless times before, but we still use plastic bottles. Why?
According to a 2015 survey, the average person uses approximately 167 plastic water bottles a year. That may not seem like a lot (to some) but if we calculate the last 10 years of my life, that would mean I’ve used approximately 1,670 plastic water bottles in just the last 10 years alone.
Reusable water bottles don’t need to be expensive or fancy; they’re sold in Target and the dollar store. A great way to make the transition from plastic water bottles to reusable ones is to have one in a bag / car / lunch box at all times. This way we won’t run the risk of forgetting our bottle!
This: Plastic Cutlery or That: Reusable Cutlery
Ordering takeout can be just what we need to get through a rough day or week. Unfortunately, this treat can build up a lot of waste. We personally like to check off (when available) no cutlery / napkins / extra sauce just to prevent further waste on my hands.
This: Grocery Bags (Paper or Plastic) or That: Reusable Grocery Bags
We all grocery shop, regardless of how often or seldom we do it. In the last month alone, I’ve probably gone grocery shopping about 5-6 times and could have wasted about 20 or so single use bags. I make the conscious choice to use reusable grocery bags when I go shopping, groceries or otherwise. I will say, it takes some getting used to to remember the bags, but once it is a part of a routine, it becomes another part of the routine and it no longer feels like an extra thing to remember.
This: Plastic Tupperware or That: Glass Tupperware
Plastic tupperware is usually a staple to everyone’s kitchen. What I’ve found, however, is that those inexpensive plastic tupperware do not last very long and end up being tossed, which just creates waste eventually. Instead, I choose to invest in a bit more expensive glass tupperware that will hopefully last me forever, and will definitely last me much longer than the plastic alternatives. Additionally, glass requires less energy to manufacture and can be put in the dishwasher / microwave without being destroyed and/or releasing toxic chemicals.
This: Toothpaste or That: Toothpaste Tablets
Toothpaste is not an incredibly large form of waste, but that’s the point! We want to make any easy changes we can, no matter how big or small. Instead of using toothpaste which comes in plastic tubes, we recommend making the switch to toothpaste tablets that often come in glass or otherwise reusable containers. Toothpaste tablets makes brushing teeth more fun, too!
This: Purchasing Small Plastics or That: Purchasing in Bulk
I’ve heard so many criticisms about Costco not being very environmentally friendly, but on the contrary we would like to point out that buying in bulk limits waste in that instead of buying 6 different small plastic packages, we are only buying one big one. Is it a perfect solution, no, but it’s definitely a small improvement to buy in bulk!
This: Plastic Bottles or That: Shampoo/Conditioner Bars
A recent switch I’ve personally made is buying shampoo and conditioner bars instead of plastic bottles. Not only is this very environmentally friendly by eliminating plastic bottles, but I’ve found that shampoo and conditioner bars are also much cleaner and healthier for my hair!
This: Purchasing Mason Jars or That: Reusing pasta sauce jars
Instead of purchasing mason jars firsthand which creates more demand for more production and potential waste, we recommend reusing old pasta sauce jars and other glass jars that come our way. There are so many uses for glass jars, like using them to save food, use as cups, etc.
This: Purchasing rags or dish towels or That: Cutting up old towels or t-shirts
Instead of purchasing rags or dish towels and creating more demand and consumption, we recommend utilizing what we already have! Cut up old towels and t-shirts to use as rags or dish towels. There’s really no difference and it’ll work just as well!
This: Mass Waste or That: Being More Mindful about Purchases and Consumption
Something that I have worked really hard on recently is being more mindful with my purchasing and consumption. I am much more mindful when I grocery shop so that I can prevent as much food waste as possible. I also take time to really consider if I need a new item of clothing, or if I’ll just wear it once and get rid of it after. Being more mindful about the purchases we make can help prevent a lot of waste long-term.
These are just a few easy substitutions that I have personally made and found that they really do make a difference. We don’t recommend trying to make multiple changes at once. Try one or two at a time and slowly incorporate them into a routine. Slowly incorporating one or two new changes is easier to stick to than multiple changes all at once and we want long term solutions! Share these tips and tricks with friends and family; let’s all work together to help protect our pretty planet.