10 Easy Eco Switches To Help Save the Earth
BY JANICE QUIRT
Apr 18, 2017
It’s Earth Day on April 22 and the entire month has been deemed Earth Month. Adopting eco-friendly practices needn’t be saved for one day or one month a year, however. In fact, what our lovely planet really needs is sustained, conscious lifestyle habits that support environmental awareness, not those that lead to oceans full of plastic, the suffering of wildlife or irreversible climate change, to name just a few. The fact is, there are some easy switches we can all make to help safeguard the earth. It really IS easy being green.
Go Nuts for Soap Nuts
Soap nuts are a great addition to the laundry room and can be used to clean a whole host of other things, as well. They have numerous benefits, including the fact that they are all natural, compost easily when finished (about five laundry loads for five soap nuts), and are packaged minimally in biodegradable cardboard. Not to mention what they replace — manufactured laundry detergent in large plastic jugs that may or may not make it into the recycling stream. Added bonus — they’re great for sensitive skin and it’s much easier to lug home a small cardboard box than a heavy and unwieldy laundry detergent jug.
Pass on Palm Oil
Palm oil has increased in popularity as a healthier alternative to trans fat and is now found in numerous packaged snacks and treats. The problem is that traditional palm harvesting practices involve clear-cutting palm forests, leading to the displacement and endangerment of many jungle species, including orangutans. Check the label before you buy and pass on any products that contain palm oil, unless you can confirm that is has been harvested using sustainable practices. Make your own granola bars and cookies, with the added upshot that they’ll be healthier and more delicious by far.
Reach for a Re-usable Straw
Many of us don’t think twice about using plastic straws, but the fact is these ubiquitous sippers are rarely recycled and millions upon millions of them end up in landfill sites, where they’ll last for hundreds of years. Imagine mountain upon mountain of plastic straws, here for longer than we are. The switch is easy with a reusable stainless steel or glass straw. Most come complete with a cleaning brush and are easy to pop into the dishwasher. And, whenever, possible, just pass on the straw.
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Look into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Support a local grower by joining a CSA. It’s great to get to know the people that grow the food and makes it possible for farmers to stay profitable. Another added bonus is knowing more about the farming practices used to grow food and choosing to support those that are ethical. There’s also a greater likelihood that the kids will try new foods after hearing the story behind them. Plus, less packaging = win, win.
Keep Microfibres Out of the Water
Bad news: synthetic fibres — including those from polyester, lycra, nylon and spandex — have been found in alarming amounts in water systems, where they are consumed by aquatic life and even pass on to humans through our consumption of fish and seafood. The fibres, known as “micro waste,” get there from humans washing the many, many clothes we wear that contain these synthetic fibres (yes, yoga pants included). There are options though: try washing such items in a mesh bag (one out there is called the Guppy Friend). Or choose natural cotton, hemp or linen whenever possible (100% cotton Thai yoga pants are super airy and comfortable, and inexpensive as well).
Meatless Mondays and Dairy-Free Days
Meat and dairy farming have serious environmental effects, to say nothing of the ethical concerns. Going meatless on a Monday (and maybe another day of the week) can be a great way to explore new vegetarian meal ideas — think black bean quesadillas, veggie burgers, and delicious stir fries, all of which seem to be big hits with the small fries. Even a small change can have a positive effect on the environment and can lead to the discovery of new foods, as well.
Use Mason Jars for Storage
It’s great the schools are embracing litterless lunches, but some of the plastic reusable containers are not the best from an environmental or health standpoint. But with the high cost of many of the reusable stainless steel containers, they are often the only option. An alternative is a Mason jar — we love these small ones to house snacks, treats, cut fruit and more in a lunch. Size up for leftovers or to use as an inexpensive, reusable and plastic-free container for treats for the school bake sale or a hostess gift.
Use Your Muscles Instead of Motors
Cars, power boats, ATVs — often a necessity, and usually tons of fun. But the impact of motors on our environment is undeniably negative. In addition to Walking Wednesdays, can the family find other ways to pass on the motor? Maybe a mountain bike outing instead of driving to the mall? Trying canoes, kayaks or paddleboards instead of motor boats? Use your muscles, not motors, and watch as health — and the environment — enjoy the change.
Try Mesh Bags and Beeswax Wraps in the Kitchen
Continue to get rid of plastic from the kitchen by eliminating plastic produce bags and plastic wrap. Stash a few easy-to-pack mesh produce bags in your purse and you’ll never have to reach for a plastic veggie bag at the store again. Likewise, no need for plastic wrap or Ziplock bags when there’s the option to use beeswax wraps. Cover plates of leftovers or wrap cheese in these amazingly pliable wraps that keep food fresh and tasty.
Opt for Bamboo Toothbrushes
Similar to the straw scenario, the number of plastic toothbrushes in landfills is staggering — and they’re simply not going anywhere. Lest you wish to wake up one morning with a view of Mount Toothbrush, consider switching to a bamboo toothbrush. The handle is 100% compostable and bamboo can be grown in a very sustainable manner. Break off the head with the nylon bristles and recycle that bit – it’s a small change that really makes a difference.
Embrace Bar Soap
Sure, the kids love bubbles in their bath and we’ve grown accustomed to shower gel. But think of how quickly a family goes through one of those plastic bottles, and the energy required to recycle it and make it into something new. Consider switching back to bar soap – there are so many options that don’t test on animals, have minimal, biodegradable packaging, and smell delicious as well. They’re also cheaper and you can learn to make your own or support a local artisan.
Small changes can add up to help save this gorgeous planet from mountains of trash, plastic and climate changes. It takes adopting a more mindful, conscious frame of mind, but that’s good for the earth and our own awareness. Try one or try them all!
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