There are lots of ways that you can lead a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable lifestyle – and one of those ways is by avoiding purchasing and using products that harm the environment.
The below article discusses several disposable products that you can commit to stop using right now to make a positive difference for the planet this year:
1.) Plastic Drinking Straws
While they may look small and innocent, plastic straws now make up a large percentage of the plastic waste that is beginning to clog our oceans.
Most plastic straws are NOT recyclable, and they take thousands of years to break down in the environment. Not only should you avoid buying these for home use, but you can also request that restaurants bring your drink without a straw when eating out. (Many restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere are already phasing them out.)
If you prefer drinking from a straw, get some reusable ones made of stainless steel or bamboo, and be sure to bring one with you when heading out to a restaurant.
2.) Disposable Wipes
Wet wipes, baby wipes, and facial cleansing wipes are one of the most common disposable products in our homes. However, these wipes are designed for single-use and then to be discarded. They are frequently misused and disposed of incorrectly. Many wet wipes are described as “flushable;” however, they actually cause major issues for sewage systems… The fact is that wet wipes, “flushable” or not, do not break down in the system as you may expect, and they are beginning to turn up in waterways worldwide.
Therefore, for more sustainable living it’s a good idea to switch out the single-use wipes for microfiber cleaning cloths, cotton face cloths, or reusable bamboo cloth wipes.
All of these options are washable and will last a long time. Even better, they will save you money in the long term and who doesn’t want more money in the bank?
3.) Plastic Wrap & Aluminum Foil
Both cling film or plastic wrap and tin or aluminum foil are standard staple kitchen items. Used to wrap food or for cooking these items do seem to find many uses. However, they are bad for our health and bad for the environment.
Cling film is another single-use plastic that can harbor many toxins. Unfortunately, cling film cannot be recycled so it ends up in a landfill for hundreds of years because as we all know, plastic takes a long time to break down.
Making aluminum foil has a huge effect on the planet. Bauxite rock is mined, then smelted to produce aluminum. This process destroys land, plants, and natural habitats for wildlife.
Then, of course, pressing blocks of aluminum into thin sheeted rolls requires a lot of energy. All of this combined shows us that this product is unsustainable.
So what’s the best alternative? Beeswax or silicone food covers can be used to protect your food in storage.
Another option is to use glass storage jars or Tupperware-type containers. Even if they are plastic, at least they are reusable and thus more sustainable in the long run.
4.) Disposable Batteries
With so many of our personal and household items using rechargeable batteries these days, such as our mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, it is a mystery why consumers still opt for the disposable forms of AAA, AA, and 9-volt batteries.
Disposable batteries typically end up in the landfill. The damage here is that when these batteries end up in the landfill sites, as they breakdown they release mercury into the earth. Not good!
This year, ditch the disposable batteries and invest in some rechargeable batteries instead. They may initially be a little more expensive but they will save you money in the long run.
Rechargeable batteries are either made with nickel or lithium and most are completely recyclable which reduces the amount of hazardous chemicals being released into the earth.
They also work in every device that requires AAA, AA, and 9 Volt batteries so it’s very easy to switch them out. It’s a no brainer!
5.) Plastic Sandwich Bags
…According to one study, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 unless we change our ways. That’s a pretty bold statement and frankly, it’s quite frightening.
Sustainable living can make an impact on the volume of plastic in our seas though. Another household item to switch out is plastic sandwich bags.
Instead, pick up some silicone sandwich bags which are reusable, washable, and airtight. Again, while they may cost more upfront, they’ll save you money in the long run and reduce plastic waste as well.