I always try to be very environmentally conscious. I like to credit most of my eco-friendliness to living in Austin, Texas for seven years. They stopped using plastic bags at grocery stores, I mean come on! I got into a lot of really good eco-friendly habits over the years so I wanted to come on today and share easy ways to be more eco-friendly with you so that we can all work a little bit towards protecting our planet.
I know that a little bit here and a little bit there won’t drastically change anything. But if we all did a little bit here and a little bit there, then that would make a HUGE difference. It is a group effort, but you can’t have a group without us individuals, right?
So let’s talk about some easy ways to be more eco-friendly that you can start doing today!
1. Bring your own grocery bags to the grocery store. I got so used to bringing my own bags while I was living in Austin that even now (living in Houston three years later) I still always grab my reusable bags every time I go to the grocery store. It’s just a habit now. They have affordable reusable grocery bags on Amazon or you can buy them at your local grocery stores as well. I got a really cute burlap bag from Trader Joes the first time I went. My friend told them it was my first time at TJ’s, which it really was, and the cashier gave me a bouquet of flowers and the reusable grocery bag for free!!! And that’s why Trader Joe’s will always be my favorite grocery store, haha!
2. If you do have plastic grocery bags, instead of throwing them away, you can bring them to certain grocery store locations and they will recycle them and turn them into new plastic bags. I know HEB does it at a lot of their locations. You can also just Google “grocery bag recycling near me” and find somewhere close. You can also get together with your neighbors/friends/family and combine all of your grocery bags to recycle at the same time to make it easier!
3. Stop buying plastic water bottles!! I know plastic water bottles are very convenient, but you could just buy a Brita and always have fresh filtered water AND help save the planet! Isn’t that so much better?! I also like to fill up my many reusable water bottles that I have acquired over the years with filtered water and keep them in the fridge if I do a workout, or we go out on the boat, or go camping, or if we do yard work. It is much easier to reach in the fridge and grab a bottle full of water but it doesn’t have to be a nasty plastic bottle. Filling up a reusable water bottle or two and keeping them in the fridge is much more cost effective and will help towards eliminating plastic ones.
4. This should be a no-brainer, but please recycle. If you do already recycle, make sure your friends and family are also recycling. You can even step it up a notch and talk to your company or office about recycling as well!
5. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth or wash your face. When you let the water run it just wastes that valuable clean water. So just turn the water on while you are actually using it and turn it off while you are not. Easy peasy!
6. When you go to the park, the beach, on hikes, on walks, etc. look for trash and pick it up. I like to bring trash bags with me when I go to the park or to the beach, not only for my own trash but I always like to leave a place cleaner than when I got there. Plus it helps save animals from getting sick or getting hurt.
7. Instead of using the single-use plastic Ziplock bags, I found these awesome silicone reusable Ziploc bags on Amazon and I have been using those for a few months now. They seal close perfectly with no leaks and they even help save room in a fridge or freezer because they can lay flat and stack or they can sit up and be squeezed between things. I just wash with warm water and dish soap in between uses but that is how I store all of my opened food packages (cheese, sandwich meat, cookie dough, etc.), all of my chopped veggies, and even leftovers go in the silicone reusable bags. You could put sandwiches in them and then put the empty silicone bag back into the cooler or into a backpack or lunchbox. I’m just really excited about these because they are EXTREMELY eco-friendly and they are color coordinated so very organized too!
8. Also, instead of using the plastic produce bags at the grocery store, (you know the thin almost transparent ones that you put onions and stuff in?) I found some reusable mesh produce bags, also on Amazon, and have been using those for a while as well. They came in different sizes so they fit everything and don’t take up extra space. I bring them to the grocery store with me every time and that’s how I gather my produce and then when I get home I just put the bags with the produce in them straight into the fridge. The bag also lets the produce breathe better so the produce ends up staying fresh longer. These are also VERY good for the environment and a great option for easy ways to be more eco-friendly. And they’re only $10!
9. Eat less meat and dairy products. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of this eco-friendly option, but not only is cutting back on meat good for the animals, it’s also good for your body and good for the environment. There are so many documentaries and informational videos about how cutting meat out of your diet is good for the environment. What the Health on Netflix was the documentary that really convinced me to cut back on eating meat and dairy products. I highly recommend giving that a view when you’re chilling on the couch looking for something to watch. Life changing. I’ll give you a big teaser to encourage you to watch it: toxic waste from slaughter houses and meat processing facilities gets dumped into man made ponds and water sprinkler lines and DESTROYS the environment around it and causes serious illnesses like cancer and lung diseases to the surrounding neighbors who breathe in that toxicity. And we eat that?!?!
Unless you do some extensive research on organic, grassfed, meat processing companies and how they euthanize their animals and dispose of the waste in an eco-friendly way or not, it’s better to just cut back on your meat and dairy intake.
10. Invest in solar panels. Solar panels are a little pricey initially but they save you money in the long run and they are great for the environment also. The sun is a sustainable and renewable source of energy and will never run out and there is no impact on the environment to use solar energy. If the sun does run out then we have bigger issues than whether or not our cell phones can charge. Depending on the size of your house and how much power you need to run it, the average cost of solar panels is between $11,000 and $15,000. Not that bad but still a big chunk of change. Or you can do a payment plan on them and pay it off in a few years. If you live in a hot southern state, your electricity bill in the summer is usually anywhere between $200 and $500 a month so getting solar panels would actually save you money in the long run because you wouldn’t have to pay those electric bills each year. The sun doesn’t charge you to use its energy!
11. Use dish towels instead of paper towels. Of course there are some things that you just need a paper towel for but drying dishes, drying your hands, wiping up spills, cleaning surfaces, etc. can all be done with a cloth dish towel and it will help save the planet. I keep paper towels on hand in case a dog pees in the house or if there is a nasty spill. But most of the time I reach for a dish towel when drying dishes or drying my hands or drying up non-disgusting spills (then throwing the towel in the washing machine). Using less single-use items is one of the easiest and most effective ways to be more eco-friendly.
12. Use reusable straws! Everyone saw the picture of the poor, bleeding turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose and if that doesn’t make you want to switch to reusable metal or silicone straws then you may need to get your heart checked. Sand Cloud has some really good metal reusable straws for cheap and Amazon also has a lot of great reusable straw options also. I always try to give everyone a reusable straw in their Christmas or birthday presents just so I can help others help the environment and our animals. And if you do find yourself with a plastic straw from a fastfood place, when you go to throw it away, grab some scissors and cut it long-ways so it won’t be a tube anymore and can play flat and won’t get stuck in a turtle’s nose. Then maybe cut it up into some tiny little pieces after that.
13. Speaking of cutting plastic up, you know those plastic circular things that hold six packs together? They’re called six-pack rings and they kill over 100,000 sea animals every year. They are more regulated now, but EVERYONE should be cutting those up before they throw them away. Cutting all of the loops so nothing can get caught in it only takes about a minute and can save animals from dying. Isn’t that an easy thing to do that also has such a huge impact?
14. Shop locally! When you shop locally, something isn’t going out into a big not-eco-friendly 18 wheeler all over the country so that will save a lot of harmful fuel emissions. Plus small business are much more eco-friendly than big corporations.
15. Research companies and brands that you buy from. See if they are actively being environmentally conscious or if they donate to any charities or use recycled products. I know Amazon is doing a lot to become a completely “clean” company. A lot of beauty brands are also becoming more and more eco-friendly.
I know you may be thinking, “but I’m just one person, I’m not going to make a difference”. FALSE! If everyone does a little bit it will make a huge improvement. If one person stops using plastic straws and encourages their friends and family to stop using them also, and then they tell their friends and family and so on, then that will make all the difference in the world. More and more people doing their part to be more eco-friendly will eventually make a huge difference and will make the Earth a much cleaner and safer place. Not just for plants and animals but also for us humans. When plastic straw and plastic bag manufacturers and so on realize that people don’t want to use that harmful stuff anymore then they can start manufacturing reusable products and do their huge part in being more eco-friendly also. It’s a chain of events and it all starts with you and me.
Sorry for the rant, I’m just very passionate about this subject. We just made a Climate and Environment Awareness group at my company and we will all be sharing ideas and plans-of-action so there may be a part two to this blog post soon!
What can you do today to be more eco-friendly?!
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