Whether you’re aim is to produce no landfill waste or just to be a bit more considerate to the environment, you’re more likely to be successful when you start small. Here are 5 simple steps to being more earth-friendly that take a little getting used to and initial effort, but will end up reducing your waste enormously!
- No more plastic water bottles > switch to a reusable bottle
Plastic is particularly bad for the environment as, although some of it is technically recyclable (less than 10% of it is actually recycled), it is only able to be downcycled into lesser quality plastics, temporarily delaying its arrival in landfill, where it leaches harmful chemicals. Plastic NEVER degrades, only breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces which are mistaken for food by animals or absorbed by sea creatures in tiny pieces. Since switching to my stainless steel bottle by Klean Kanteen, I’ve noticed my water tastes cleaner and I don’t need to shell out on any more bottles- what’s not to like!
2. No more plastic shopping bags > use reusable bags
This one took some practice to remember, but I can safely say I haven’t used a plastic shopping bag in 6 months, and I won’t again. Now every time I go out, whether I know I’m going to buy something or not, I have at least 1 trusty canvas bag with me to carry it in. For the same reason as the bottles, plastic bags are terrible for the planet. Many of them claim to be biodegradable as well, which is misleading (everything is technically biodegradable– that doesn’t mean it won’t take 50 years). Due to their light weight, they often fly off in the wind to end up caught up in trees, swallowed by wildlife or floating in seas and rivers. Not cool!
3. Go paperless > digitise what you need
Whether it be bank statements, subscriptions to magazines or newsletters, or just plain junk, an awful lot comes through the door only to be dumped directly in the recycling. Recycling is great, but it still requires energy and resources which could have been avoided if you cut the waste off at the source. Most if not all banks offer online statements, and keeping magazines and newsletters online means less resources used to print and send them to you. Putting up a ‘no junk mail’ sign over your letterbox is all that’s needed to take care of the rest. Scrutinise your mail and see if you can cut it down.
4. Say no to tissues + napkins + hand towels > carry a handkerchief
I got seriously excited when I realised being eco-friendly meant I got to carry around a hanky. It always seemed really cool to me, like this was a part of history I had no idea why had gone extinct. Hankies are great- obviously you can wash and reuse them forever instead of cutting down forests for the sake of blowing your nose, but they also don’t make my nose all rough and sore like tissues do after a few days of use (did I mention they are also super adorable and picking which one to take out each week makes me happy?) My mum gave me a set of tartan ones for Christmas, and I’m not looking back!
5. Out: plastic toothbrushes > in: bamboo toothbrushes
Toothbrushes, due to their need to be replaced several times a year, contribute to a large proportion of landfill sites, where they will sit for generations in exactly the same condition as the day you threw them out. There has to be another way… And there is! Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted after use, so the wood can biodegrade naturally in the earth causing absolutely no pollution. If the concept of using a wooden toothbrush seems strange, I would encourage you to try it- after a matter of days I’d already felt like I’d been using them for years. Bamboo has antibacterial properties and is universally considered healthy, whereas the health effects of plastic as a synthetic material are as yet inconclusive.