I welcome the conveniences of modern life, especially when our options are nearly limitless. But along with our endless options comes the ease of disposable items and becoming accustomed to the convenience that these items bring. However convenient these disposable items seem, they can lead to more waste. To celebrate Earth Day every day, try out these 3 helpful tips for simple green living.
1) Choose a Reusable Water Bottle
Empty water bottles are so abundant that they are often used as a main component of an art project for children. There are even dog toys that you can purchase at a pet store that require an empty water bottle to complete the toy. Bottled water is a billion dollar industry that helps to contribute to over two million discarded water bottles on a yearly basis. Roughly only about one out of every five water bottles gets recycled. Bottled water not only uses enough fossil fuel to power close to 200,000 homes, but also ironically uses more water than the actual bottle contains. Reusing the cheap plastic of bottled water is not recommended either since the bottle could be leaching the plastic compounds into your drink or even introducing bacteria growth.
An easy solution is buying reusable bottles that you can fill with your own water. Straight tap water will work for these bottles, but if you prefer the taste of filtered water you can do that too. Reusable bottles come in plastic, stainless steel, and glass. You can get different colors and designs for the whole family to enjoy! I personally prefer the glass bottles the best since I am not a fan of drinking water out of metal. You can get insulated bottles too which comes in handy for bringing along extra bottles of water for later in the day. Buying a few reusable bottles will run more money than buying a case of bottled water. However the reusable bottles will quickly show their true value when your bottled water runs out, but you still have a reusable bottle to fill with water of your choice.
2) Ditch Those Paper Towels
Your child spills a cup of milk at dinner. The dog is a little too rowdy and bumps into the coffee table where you placed your cup of tea. Most Americans would quickly run into the kitchen and grab one or two paper towels depending on how big the mess was. Paper towels contribute to over one-third of the waste that winds up in the landfills. The process of making just one eight ounce roll of paper towels produces over a pound of carbon dioxide that is released into our atmosphere.
Instead of reaching for another paper towel, go paperless! Use old towels for big spells, upcycle rags from old t-shirts, flannel scraps, or other fabrics that might be absorbent that you already have in your home for smaller spills. You can even make your own set of unpaper towels in different fabric choices to add a little color to your kitchen. Adding a couple extra rags to your laundry isn’t very noticeable compared to the savings of not running through rolls of paper towels.
3) Invest in Reusable Bags
Millions of plastic bags get used for quick and easy take along snacks. An average family will use thousands of plastic baggies a year, most of which are being used by school age children. These small inconspicuous looking little bags will run the family budget about $85 a year. Buying reusable snack bags isn’t just good for your wallet but also for your carbon footprint.
Ditching disposable plastic bags sounds difficult, but a few simple changes and you won’t really miss them at all. At home, instead of reaching for a plastic storage bag to store left-overs from your dinner, grab a reusable glass storage container. Plastic reusable containers will wear out quicker than if you use glass, not to mention we all know how spaghetti sauce will ruin the plastic!
For outside of the home, whether it be for the kids at school or for you to take with you on your commute, stainless steel bento box style containers are a great alternative to stay clear of plastic. Smaller children that might find bento box containers a little difficult to use, can use cloth bags instead. Cloth bags can be found in a variety of options from choice of fabric, a bag with either a fold over design, Velcro closure, or a zipper closure.
Caring for cloth bags might seem daunting in the beginning, but you can just add the soiled bags either to your dishwasher cycle or in your washing machine depending on the material of the bags. Upfront costs of switching from a plastic baggie to another alternative can be a little steep at first.
Worried about the initial costs of adopting these 3 tips for simple green living? Start small by purchasing one or two items at a time. When your budget allows, make your next purchase. In the end, the long-term savings of adopting these switches will cover the upfront costs plus add additional savings for the life of the products.