Every day, more and more information and statistics come out about the state of our planet. And in case you didn’t know, the summary of how we are treating the world is not good. We go throw away so much trash every day without really thinking about where it is going. However, a majority of our waste is going into landfills or goes into the ocean.
In fact, a diver recently did a dive in the Mariana Trench and purportedly went over 35,000 feet down and what did he find? A plastic bag. This is extremely disturbing and should be used as a wake-up call. We are throwing away too much trash! The good news is, you can do your part and help reduce the waste, and here’s how!
1. Use a Reusable Water Bottle
A lot of what goes into the landfills is plastic. Plastic is one of the worst types of waste because it doesn’t break down quickly. Not only does plastic cause significant pollution, but it also has a substantial adverse effect on marine life and can be fatal. While many companies are starting to use decomposable plastic, it doesn’t give anyone an excuse to litter.
To help the environment and cut down on plastic, invest in a reusable water bottle! Reusable water bottles are extremely easy to come by and will last you a very long time. Yes, plastic water bottles can be more convenient, but they are also hurting the planet. There are hundreds of cute reusable water bottles so you can look fashionable while also saving the planet one water bottle at a time!
2. Reuse Empty Jars
Glass is another form of waste that is filling up landfills everywhere. Similarly to plastic, glass does not break down easily and can also be harmful to land and sea creatures. Instead of throwing away empty candle jars or glass food jars, rinse them out and reuse them!
You can use them as storage, and some places will even take the glass jars back to reuse them for future products. So if you have no use for empty jars, look to see if a company takes glass jars off your hands! It may take a little extra effort, but at least we won’t be trashing the planet!
3. Stop Using Disposable Towelettes and Cotton Pads
The disposable towelettes and cotton pads we use to remove makeup may break down easier than plastic or glass, but they are still waste nonetheless. Even though they break down quicker, studies have shown that growing cotton is more harmful to the environment than it is worth.
Instead of using cotton pads and disposable towelettes to remove makeup or cleanse the skin, opt for reusable towels and bamboo pads! One popular brand for reusable makeup remover clothes is Makeup Eraser. Makeup Eraser is said to last for 1000 washes, and you only need water to remove your makeup.
Another option is reusable makeup remover pads that are typically made from bamboo and can be bought on Amazon! My personal favorite is the Bamboo Makeup Remover Pads by Phogary on Amazon. With each purchase, you get 16 reusable bamboo pads and a laundry bag. When they’re all dirty, all you have to do is throw them in the wash, and you can reuse them over and over again!
4. Stop Using Straws
If you haven’t seen the turtle video, I urge you to do so. The video shows a turtle with something lodged in its nose and, come to find out, it is a plastic straw. The video itself is heartbreaking, but it will make you realize the damage of plastic straws. Many cities have started to ban plastic straws and only carry paper straws. While this is great, you can do even better by using metal straws.
Unlike paper straws, metal straws last longer than one drink and can be reused over and over again. All you have to do is wash them like ordinary dishes! You can buy them in bulk so just throw one in your bag, so you don’t forget to carry it with you! Help the turtles and stop using plastic straws.
5. Go Paperless
Easier said than done, but it is getting easier and easier to go paperless! Most things are done online these days, so there’s no reason for 95% of the paper being used to be used in the first place. Going paperless will also make you more organized because if everything is on a computer, it is easier to find.
Of course, this can be difficult, so if you must use paper, opt for recycled paper!
6. Fast Fashion
Fast fashion stores are great because they are usually up-to-date on trends and are cheap. However, what’s not great is the pollution that occurs because of it. Not only does fast fashion emit enormous quantities of greenhouse gasses, but the synthetic fibers used are basically a form of plastic which is extremely harmful to the planet!
Synthetic fabrics are cheap, which is why the clothing is inexpensive in stores. With this, we know that these fabrics aren’t the best quality and will not last more than a year. And we are okay with that because this piece will not be trendy next year. Why won’t it last? Because it will fade, rip, etc. which makes it unfit for thrift stores, meaning those clothing pieces go into a landfill along with everything else.
Not to mention, fast fashion brands are typically unethical and overwork their employees. So if the environment wasn’t a concern for you, maybe the ethical issues will be.
7. Walk When You Can, Carpool When You Can’t
It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t own a car or at least drives one daily. No one walks anywhere anymore, even if they’re just going a couple of blocks. And while you might only be driving a couple blocks, it is still putting harmful gases into the air that is hurting the environment. No, we can’t walk everywhere, but you can also carpool! Bottom line is if you can walk there, do so. If you can’t walk, carpool!
8. Reuse Shopping Bags
Shopping bags are something that we are all guilty of using when we own reusable bags at home. But when you think about it, shopping bags, no matter if they are paper or plastic, are filling up the landfills like crazy and what was found at the bottom of the ocean? A plastic bag.
Make an effort to use reusable shopping bags and put several in your car, so you always have one for those last-minute shopping trips! If you absolutely need a bag, be sure to reuse it somehow do you don’t let that bag go to a landfill in vain.
9. Compost If Possible
Composting is becoming more popular, and more cities are starting to support composting and will pick it up for free whenever you call. Composting is when you put uneaten food into a separate trash bin that will be picked up to be made into soil or energy.
If possible, look into composting and see if your city supports it!
10. Eat More Plants
I’m not telling you to become a vegan or to stop eating meat, but I am encouraging you to cut back on meat. The amount of energy it takes to create meat products is shocking when you see statistics and the greenhouse gasses that are emitted are insane. So no, you don’t have to stop eating meat. But dedicate at least one day a week to not eating any meat and live like a vegetarian or vegan for the day. You don’t have to do this all the time, but doing this every so often will have a significant effect on the environment!
11. Opt For Recycled Supplies
When you think about the waste that comes out of your office, it’s a little absurd. We go through so many pens, so much paper, paperclips, staples… And while going paperless would be ideal, it just isn’t practical for a lot of us. So if going paperless just isn’t for you, and you need to purchase the traditional office supplies, opt for recycled products!
There are lots of office brands on the market that produce office supplies from recycled materials, and you can also purchase pen refills instead of throwing away an entire pen when it is empty. Recycled paper is also a great option if going paperless isn’t for you and using reusable clips rather than staples is also a good idea!
12. Recycle Your Product Empties
I will be the first to admit that I am a makeup junkie… which is just a more delicate way of saying I’m a makeup hoarder. I have far more makeup than any one person needs, but we all have little product obsessions. For my mom, that is candles… Hi mom!
Point is, we all have products we buy but when we’re finished with it, we don’t really consider what we’re throwing away. A finished candle is still a glass jar, and an empty lipstick tube is still plastic, and waste still accumulates. Lucky for us, though, many companies actually take back your product empties and recycle them, so you don’t create unnecessary waste! Many stores will also reward you as well, so it’s a win for you and for the planet! Here are some companies who participate:
Lush — Bring back 5 empty Lush containers to any Lush store and receive a free face mask for helping the environment!
Kiehl’s — Bring in empty, full-size containers to your local Kiehl’s store for recycling, and receive one stamp. Once you’ve hit 10 marks, you’ll receive a free travel-size Kiehl’s product!
Origins — The one who started it all, bring any empty product that Origin sells and they will reuse the packaging to reduce waste!
MAC — MAC products are pricey, but if you return 6 empty primary packaging containers online or in stores, you will receive a free full-sized MAC lipstick! Win-win!
Nike — We all have way more trainers than we need and if you have 10 you don’t wear anymore or are just too beaten up, bring them to a Nike Reuse-a-Shoe collection point at select Nike stores! The materials will be recycled into new shoes, clothing, and even playgrounds! Added bonus, they don’t have to be Nikes! Just any old trainers you currently own!
H&M — We already talked about fast fashion (#6) but just because you have bought from these companies doesn’t mean old and tattered clothing has to be thrown away! Bring in any clothing brand at any condition to an H&M and ask for a garment collector box. The unused clothing will be recycled into new products or will be sold at second-hand stores!
Crayola — If you have any kids in your life, you know how quickly crayons break. And once the crayon breaks, it is “no longer good.” If this is the case for you, don’t let those crayons fill a landfill! Instead, use this opportunity to teach these kids about recycling! Crayola collects old crayons and uses them to create clean-burning fuel! You can even introduce this to local restaurants and schools if you work at one!
13. Use Reusable Food Storage
When you think about how much waste actually just comes from food, it is shocking! Not only is so much food wasted, but paper bags, straws, plastic, foil, etc. are all thrown into landfills after just one use. To turn this around, opt for reusable food storage!
Go back to your elementary school days and start using lunch bags or boxes instead of disposable bags. There are lots of mature lunch bag options on the market, so you don’t need to buy a Frozen lunch box… but you can!
Instead of saran wrap and foil, opt for beeswax cling food wraps. You can DIY these if you want, but you can also buy them online! Beeswax wraps are reusable and can be used just like a plastic wrap!
When getting takeout, bring your own reusable bags (#8) and just take the food and leave the bag behind. Opt-out of single-use straws and say no thanks to single-use utensils and napkins.
14. Turn the Lights Off
You’ve probably heard this one for your entire life, but it really is essential to turn the lights off when they are not in use! Not only are you saving some money when that electric bill comes around, but you are also saving energy. The energy has to come from somewhere, and unless you’re using solar, it doesn’t come from the sun. It may seem like an insignificant thing, but in the larger picture, keeping lights on isn’t great for the environment. So turn the lights off when you leave a room and don’t turn lights on if it isn’t necessary.
15. Use Less Water
Conserving water is one of the biggest concerns we should have when it comes to the environment. Water is what keeps the world going. Not only do organisms need to literally survive, but it also plays a massive roll in energy. Even though the world is mostly water, we can’t take that for granted, but we are1 We continue to pollute and waste the water, and that needs to stop!
To help conserve water, you can start by taking shorter showers, turning the faucet off when brushing your teeth, and be more conscious of the times when you are washing your car or watering your plants.
These all may sound like insignificant steps towards helping the environment, but every little bit helps! Do your part, and love the planet.