Happy (belated) Earth Day to all my fellow crunchy granola friends out there. All kidding aside, as most of you know I’m a big environmentalist, however, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to help save the planet. Enacting these few simple changes not only helped me reduce my single-use plastic consumption but it’s also saved me a nice sum of money. The money I save goes right to my travel fund so for all those wondering how I save money to travel the globe? Start here…
This little change makes a HUGE difference! When grocery shopping BYOB, Bring Your Own Bag, (but obviously won’t judge if you bring booze too). When I lived in Germany, you had to bring your own bag to the grocery store and if you forgot you had to buy a reusable bag for a dollar. I still bring my own bag because of this! Obviously, I’m not perfect, but any little bit helps. If you have a car? It’s even easier, leave them in your trunk! It actually makes carrying groceries easier because you fit more in one bag and carry it on your shoulder. For smaller CVS runs, I carry a BAGGU in my purse or you can leave one in your car. Just bust it out next time you hit up the convenient store and give the cashier a smug smile even though they low key might be judging you.
Reusable Coffee Mugs
Whether you like it hot or cold, bring your own mug! Most coffee shops will offer you a slight discount and you’ll save the environment. I’d say I’m about 60/40 on this but I do carry an aluminum straw in my work bag so I can use that instead of plastic. Personally, I drink two to three coffees a day. I mean, I’m a writer who lives in New York City, what is sleep? My point is, every little bit helps.
Living in New York City, I’ve had many roommates in my lifetime. If you’re wondering what kind of roommate I am…yes, I’m THAT roommate who makes everyone recycle and use weird organic products, etc. One thing I’ve managed to turn everyone onto is dryer balls! Dryer sheets are actually the most toxic household product for you. You constantly have to buy them, all they do is make your clothes smell like synthetic fragrance, and they fill up our landfills. Dryer balls are made from wool, cut drying time in half, naturally soften your clothes, are a one-time purchase, and are chemical and allergy free! You can add essential or fragrance oil for smell if you really miss it. Honestly, I leave them in the dryer and never take them out. It’s really that easy and it’s probably the best eight dollars I’ve ever spent.
Reusable Water Bottles
This one is obvious! Reusable plastic is okay…reusable stainless steel is better. Once I made the switch to steel I never looked back on plastic. My water is cold for hours and I drink so much more water because of it. I keep one in my work bag and refill as I go. I even bring it with me when I travel. I think all hotels should have them, (don’t worry I’m working on it.)
This isn’t a product per se and yet it’s probably the most important topic. Mindful eating is something I always try to practice. I’ve read tons of articles on this and to sum it up, buy organic produce and protein, eat seasonal fruits and veggies, and limit your red meat consumption to once every week or two weeks. Once you start there you can start going one or two days meat-free. You don’t need to go full vegetarian or vegan but limiting your meat consumption is not only good for your health but it’s also good for the environment.
The follow-up question people always ask me is…but how do I afford organic produce? There’s no easy way to answer this question but the best tips I found are to avoid buying pre-packaged foods, meal prepping, buying from stores like Trader Joe’s, and by visiting your local farmers market. All these suggestions have not only helped me save money but have also helped me eat healthier. I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to diet to lose weight or eat healthier.
Another obvious one and yet it’s worth mentioning because you’d be surprised at just how much you CAN recycle. When I lived in Germany, it was the law to recycle. Literally, you would get a fine if you didn’t do it right. I had five garbage cans in my apartment. Yes, you read that right, FIVE. One for waste, one for plastic, one for cardboard and paper, one for cans, and one for glass.
Guess which one fills up the quickest? If you guessed plastic…you’d be right. We had a normal sized trash can for plastic and we had to take this trash out every three days. That’s how much single-use plastic we ruse on a daily basis. So what can you recycle? A quick google search of your counties recycling laws should do it, you can find the NYC guidelines here. Essentially, plastic (rigid plastic like bottles, food containers, plastic housewares, etc), glass, and cans with a separate container for cardboards and newspapers.
Yes, I mentioned how this helped me save money but in reality, it really does make a difference. In Bali, I went freediving with Manta Rays and swam in a ton of garbage. It rained on a nearby island and the run-off from the river ended up in the ocean. To say it was disgusting was an understatement so imagine how the Mantas felt? These simple changes are not only helping you but it’s also helping wildlife.
What are the same of the things you do to limit your use of single-use plastics? Any more environmental tips? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Earth Day,
City Girl Riss