Today is Earth Day, so let’s honor the holiday by making some easy swaps and change our life for the better.
I have started my low-waste journey 2 years ago. I was a clueless undergrad studying in New York and definitely had a tight budget.
I explored a lot and realized that there are a lot of ways to be sustainable that doesn’t involve splurging on every single eco-swap in an overpriced zero waste shops, although I definitely wanted to do it, that can be spotted around the city.
So, on 51st Earth Day, when everyone tries to save electricity and think about their impact on the planet, I would like to share a list of 5 different ways you can become more sustainable and save money at the same time!
Method 1: Stop Buying Water Bottles
Although each and every water bottle is made to be 100% recyclable (so, you are free to put it in the blue bin at home), recent research suggests that many recycled items still end up in the landfill. A study published by the journal Science Advances says that only 9% of plastic ever made was actually recycled. The rest found their way to oceans, landfills, and the environment.
So, even if you make the conscious effort to recycle, the probability that the water bottle you place will actually get processed into something else is slim. I know you probably saw advertisements for different pieces of clothing made from recycled plastic, but the United States alone sells around 70 million water bottles per day! There is no way these companies can match those numbers yet.
What can you do instead?
Buy a reusable water bottle. It is an easy and sustainable way to save money on water and we did the math for you.
If you are a health-oriented American, then you would try to drink 2 bottles of water per day, costing you around ($2) unless you either buy in bulk ($4 for a Great Value 40 pack at Walmart) or splurge for Fiji or Evian ($6–8). That means you can spend somewhere between $40 — $160 per year on water bottles!
On the other hand, if you buy a reusable water bottle, which costs between $5 (for the cheap plastic kind) or $15 (pretty stainless steel, insulated kind), then the costs will be worth it in under a month. If you are worried about water filtration, then you can get a portable charcoal water filter, drop it into your water bottle, and let it work its magic, or get a PUR water pitcher for $15 (with replaceable filters). Again the cost of reusable items vs. plastic bottles will make it worth your while.
Method 2: Make your food last longer with a grocery list and these easy tips!
Around 1 lb of food is wasted per person every day in the United States, which creates 81.4 billion lbs of food waste a year! Everyone has that one veggie that will go bad in the back of their fridge or forget to drink their milk before it expires.
What can we do instead?
Make a menu for the week to cook at home and shop your groceries accordingly. That way you will most likely get your shopping done in one day and won’t have to fret about meal ideas for the rest of the week. Don’t forget! Don’t go shopping while hungry and without a list, otherwise, you will end up with a lot of unnecessary and probably unhealthy food at home.
Also, we can make an effort to keep our food fresh longer by utilizing some proper storage techniques:
- Wrap your cheese in paper to keep it fresh and soft longer.
- You can wrap your broccoli and celery in foil and it will keep it fresh and crisp up to 4 weeks in the fridge.
- Keep your onions in a dark spot with a lot of air to make them last longer.
- Wash your berries in a vinegar water solution (1 part vinegar, 3 parts water). That way, all bacteria will be killed off and rest assured you won’t find them molding in two days.
- Brush your cut avocado and apples with lemon to prevent them from going brown.
Method 3: Go paperless and say no to junk mail
Junk mail adds 1 billion pounds of waste to landfills each year and the chances that you will actually read any of it is slim to none. Also, approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S. If you don’t want to contribute to this horrifying statistic, then here is the way to conserve your time and make less waste!
Going paperless: Scan all your papers and keep them in an online cloud or your computer. This can be handy for students who want to keep their old notes, assignments and graded essays without accumulating a huge stack of old papers in the desk drawer. Just scan them for your personal records. That way you will always have them handy without the fear of losing important papers or accidentally throwing them away. Better yet, do your note-taking online when possible!
- Call 1–888–5-OPT-OUT (1–888–567–8688) or visit optoutprescreen.com and you can choose not to receive unsolicited offers for new credit cards and insurance.
- Data and Marketing Association (DMA) is the largest in the US and contributes to the majority of junk mail offers delivered to you. They program launched a service called DMAChoice that allows you to block all DMA mail for 10 years. All you have to do is register online and pay their 2$ fee. You can also unsubscribe from commercial email lists too.
- There are apps like PaperKarma that allow you to upload pictures of unwanted mail and try to unsubscribe you from them.
Method 4: Recycle and Donate Your Clothes
Another industry with tons of waste. Recent research shows that the volume of clothing Americans throw away each year has doubled in the last 20 years, from 7 million to 14 million tons. Second only to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world!
What can you do instead?
Resell, recycle or donate your clothes!
You can resell unwanted clothing through handy mobile apps like Poshmark and Depop.
You can recycle old, but wearable items that no one will buy either through Council for Textile Recycling (they have drop-off bins all over the country) or through Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (an online platform that helps you find the closest outlet nearby). You can even recycle old bras through here.
Finally, you can donate your clothes to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Someone will definitely love them!
Method 5: DIY or Upcycle
There are so many environmental benefits to upcycling old items instead of throwing them away including conserving natural resources, minimizing things that go to the landfill, and decorating your home with cute inventions. It also reduces the need for production using new or raw materials which means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often a conservation of global resources.
What can you do instead?
Here are some upcycling ideas for you:
- Reusing old teapots, cups, and even wooden drawers as plant pots.
- Making cushions and pillow cases out of old denim and sweaters.
- Make a shelf out of an old guitar or even a frying pan.
- You can transform a bike wheel into a clock.
- Making a towel rack out of a surfboard or a cabinet out of an old bike.
Also, Pinterest has many more …
Don’t use water bottles — save your money and the environment
Stop food waste by making a shopping list and storing food properly
Go paperless and stop losing your notes and old memorabilia. Also, get rid of annoying junk mail.
Resell, donate, or recycle old clothes and garments. Also, buy second hand and don’t contribute to fast fashion if you can.
DIY and repurpose old stuff. Get one of a kind item and save it from the landfill!
Want 45 more ideas to be sustainable?
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