I like to think that I've always been aware of my effect on the environment and how my actions affect generations to come. However, this year, I've started to plunge deeper. I've learned so much more about how I can reduce my footprint and make small changes in my life to help out mother earth. Today I wanted to share five of the small changes I've made in my life that you can make too.
I think when we hear about making changes, we automatically shut down because we think it will be too difficult or will make us go out of our way too much. These five choices, in particular, shouldn't have any large effect on your day-to-day life and might even improve your quality of life.
GOODBYE STRAWS // This one has probably become one of the most popular changes over the past year and I'm on board! I'm obviously not perfect (no one is, we all make mistakes), so I've cheated on this rule. BUT, the first step is just becoming aware. If every time you do use a straw it makes you take pause and consider how that action is affecting the environment, then that's a great first step. As for alternatives, look into buying reusable straws online. There are tons of affordable options on amazon. Also, be sure to ask the restaurant you're at for either no straw or if they have a paper substitute! OH! And don't forget to ask at Starbucks for their strawless lids.
JUST BE MORE VEGAN // Emphasis on the MORE! I am not a vegan, but I've made a lot more vegan-friendly choices over the past year. I eat aaaalmost 100% vegan at home and normally vegetarian when I'm eating out as well. I know people have a lot of opinions about veganism, but here's mine. If you're making more of an effort to use fewer animal byproducts than you did yesterday, you're taking steps in the right direction. I think if you're taking small steps and becoming more aware of how much animal byproducts you're consuming and using on a daily basis, then that's a great first step towards being kinder to our planet.
USE MORE REUSABLE BAGS // When I was writing this one I was wondering if it was too obvious since everyone knows about reusable shopping bags. I was conflicted about whether I should even include it, but I decided I would, mostly because I feel we all know about this, but often don't use them. I'm even pretty sure we all own reusable bags and still don't use them as often as we should. This also tends to only apply to groceries in people's minds. Keep in mind you can also use reusable bags when shopping at the mall or bagging fruit as the grocery store.
And worst case - if you forget your bags and the cashier asks you "paper or plastic?" use paper and recycle them! I use my paper bags to hold my recycling until it's full and recycle it all together!
USE LESS ENERGY // Another one where you're probably thinking "okay Jill, yeah, no duh!" Hear me out! There are tons of ways you're using energy that you're not thinking about and can change with almost no effort at all. I'm super guilty of these two small ones that were so simple to correct. First, if I wanted to pop onto my laptop for a moment (or an hour or two) in between netflix episodes, I would typically leave my TV on. This is a waste of energy since you're not using your tv! The second big one was unplugging my laptop from it's charging cord and the charging cord from its outlet once it was fully charged. By keeping it plugged in you're using energy that your laptop isn't even benefiting from.
OPT-IN FOR RE-USABLE CONTAINERS // 80% of plastic water bottles we use end up in landfills and each bottle takes ONE THOUSAND YEARS to decompose. That's bad guys. That's why it's important to start remembering to use our re-usable containers. There are so many cute ones out there now too, there's no reason not to bring one with you. This also applies to morning coffee runs. A lot of coffee shops will even give you a discount for bringing your own container. That means you're saving money and the planet! And one last idea for you. If you ever order takeout and it comes in a plastic container, don't throw that away! You can easily wash the container and save it for your next leftovers.