It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day consumerism and ‘go with the flow’ mentality. Nobody bothers you with any questions when you do everything the same as them, but maybe I want people to start asking questions. It’s the best way to learn, right? Maybe some people don’t realize that plastic straws get lodged way up the nostrils of sea creatures, maybe some people don’t realize that plastic bags floating in the ocean look an awful lot like a meal to some animals. At one point, I didn’t know any of this, I had no clue what my wastefulness was doing to the other living beings and to the earth itself. So, I have compiled some simple changes that anyone can make, which are not expensive and most will end up saving you money. Win, win!
Animal Sanctuaries instead of Zoos: You can visit a sanctuary for a donation of usually $10-$20 per adult, and you’re not supporting animal cruelty. Instead you’re helping pay the food and vet bills for non profit organizations that rescue neglected animals. Look for my upcoming Blog Post on more information about Animal Sanctuaries vs Zoos.
Compost Instead of Waste: Food waste does no good for the landfill and only takes up space, but it is so good for the soil in our gardens. Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, ask around and you might be surprised who has a compost bin in their yard! Most towns have a community garden and many of them have a composting pile that you may be able to donate to.
Tea Ball Instead of Tea Bags: If you’re a tea drinker, stop buying the boxes, wrapped in plastic,with more wrapped individual tea bags inside of that. It’s silly! Take a glass jar to a tea shop, have them weigh your jar and then fill the jar with loose leaf tea and subtract the weight of the jar. Not only is the usually less expensive, but it is also super fresh.
Stainless Steel Straws Instead of Plastic Straws: This one really gets to me, straws are one of the most common items found washed up on the beach. Yet, it is so easy to keep a few reusable straws in your glove box, or simple say ‘no straw please’. Look up “Sea Turtle With Straw Up Its Nose” on Youtube.
Cloth Diapers Instead of Disposable: Cloth diapers may seem more expensive at first, but they are a one time purchase. They will last your child from newborn, up until they’re potty trained and then they can be used again for future kids. An idea is to ask friends and family to each gift you one cloth diaper each (about $20), in lieu of a toy or other item that may be less eco friendly. Over 27 Billion disposable diapers are thrown away every year in the United States and each diaper takes about 500 years to decompose.
Fabric Bags Instead of Plastic Bags: Stores now charge for plastic bags, which is awesome! It has encouraged more people to make the investment in reusable bags. Plastic bags end up in landfill and most of the time are carried away by the wind and end up polluting the ocean. Plastic bags used for produce and at the bulk bins are just as bad, I encourage investing in some reusable produce bags, such as Simple Ecology.
Reusable Water Bottles Instead of Plastic: Many people are getting much better at this one. However, it doesn’t just go for water, bring your canteen into Cafes or any place where you might take a beverage to-go. Most coffee shops will offer a small discount if you bring in your own mug. Pair it with a stainless steel straw and the planet will thank you!
Thrift Stores Instead of Malls: Not only are thrift stores significantly less expensive, but there is also much less waste involved. Products at the mall come wrapped in plastic, that’s wrapped in plastic and it just never ends. Not to mention many of the common clothing stores are not very ethical in their production. Thrift Stores tend to support local nonprofits and anything that they are unable to sell gets donated or recycled appropriately.
I hope that you were able to be inspired by these ideas and don’t be limited by them! There are so many other ways to be conscious in your purchases and consumerism, yet not burn a hole in your pocket. You really do vote with your dollar, if each person thinks that they are only ‘one person’ and cannot make a difference, then nothing will change. But if everyone acts on it, then there will be so many of us working together to do better. A tip that has helped me is to be aware every time I throw something in the garbage, think… ‘what can I do, what can I change, so that I do not have to add this to landfill’.