The Path to Environmental Sustainability

In Community, Rose McMaster by Lola Magazine

My journey into environmental sustainability actually started when I was looking into ways to save money. As I did my research into reusable and cash-saving items, I also learned more about the amount of waste we as humans produce every day. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to change my lifestyle, and so I started this journey with simple yet effective swaps. That’s why I have gathered a list of ten crazy-easy ways that we can all be friendlier to our Earth and start the path into environmental sustainability.

I think a lot of people believe that converting to a low-waste lifestyle is intimidating and difficult, and that deflects them from it. The truth is, though, that caring about the environment doesn’t have to be hard. By taking these simple steps and learning more about what you can do to help, you will already be making a huge difference to save our planet! 

Ten crazy-easy ways to help the planet

  1. To begin with, one of the most basic tips we’ve all heard before: Plastic water bottles are truly unnecessary and one of the largest contributors to waste. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to get yourself a reusable water bottle! Not only will these cut back on plastic use, but insulated bottles will keep your water ice cold for hours and save you having to constantly buy packs of water. 
  2. Something I’m sure you’ve seen before are those reusable grocery bags. These bags are great since they are large, sturdy, and able to fit a ton of groceries without fear of busting open. Reusable grocery bags are also vital as the typical thin-plastic sacks are one of the most difficult materials to recycle. So throw a few of reusable bags in your car to have on hand whenever you make a trip to the store.
  3. If you haven’t seen the uproar about straws, I’m not sure where you’ve been! Similar to bottles, plastic straws really are superfluous for most people. If you prefer drinking from straws, though, look into reusable versions. There are tons of collapsible and easily portable options. Another tip if you’re looking to avoid plastic straws at restaurants: Let your waiter know you don’t need a straw when you order your drink. You want to tell them early because if straws are put on the table and even if they are unopened, they usually still go in the trash.
  4. One effortless change I’ve made was ditching the disposable cotton pads and makeup wipes. You can easily find reusable cotton pads online, and they’ll always come with a mesh baggy you can just throw in your washing machine. In the same vein, you can find microfiber makeup cloths that only have to be wet with water to wipe your makeup right off. I personally use an oil-based cleanser – really just plain ol’ coconut oil – to break up my makeup and wipe it away with a cloth.
  5. Another simple change is switching to soap and shampoo bars to cut down on the amount of plastic in your bathroom. Shampoo bars are no problem to use; you can actually buy conditioner bars as well, although I know from experience that these take a little more time to adjust to. Nevertheless, if you are looking to make the change, this is a great step!
  6. One thing that drives me nuts is sandwich bags! Cut out sandwich bags and switch to Tupperware. While disposable bags are easy to throw out, taking the extra few minutes to clean the Tupperware at the end of the day will save on so much plastic. If you are in need of a baggy, though, look into reusable, silicon sandwich baggies. They come in all sorts of sizes and will end up saving you money in the long run.
  7. A lot of our refuse appears in the kitchen with paper towels being one of the most common. Now, I knew abandoning paper towels wouldn’t be easy, and I can even say that I still have to use paper towels often. Nevertheless, I try to use dish towels in lieu of paper towels as much as I can. Keep a stack of rags for whenever you need to wipe down your counters or dry off any dishes and then throw them in the wash after.
  8. When it comes to buying products, aim for bamboo alternatives. Bamboo is a great material because, unlike plastic, it’s biodegradable. So look to swap items that would normally be made of plastic – such as toothbrushes, kitchen utensils, sponges, dish brushes, etc. – for the bamboo alternative.
  9. Another great tip is to buy used items. If you’re someone who is into thrifting, then you are already helping to save a lot of resources. Still, look into buying used appliances, technology, furniture, and more to further cut back on the amount of waste that goes behind the production of consumer products.
  10.  The main thing to keep in mind when trying to find a sustainable lifestyle is the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The phrase is in this order for a reason, as the first step to eco-friendly living is reducing the number of unnecessary products in your life. Reuse different items to expand their lifespan and keep them out of the trash. Finally, recycle responsibly and appropriately to keep waste out of landfills.