Consciousness about climate change and sustainability is on the rise. From an inspired generation of environmentally minded citizens, to grassroots cleanup movements like #TrashTag, more and more people are taking up the fight for a cleaner, greener world. There is no “planet B”, after all. But, doing your part doesn’t have to involve political rallies or spending weekends cleaning up the local park (good ideas, though!). It’s often the smallest changes that lead to the biggest and most important outcomes. Here are some of the simplest swaps you can make towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
1. Tell Plastic Wrap to ‘Stick It’.
Single-use plastic cling wrap is a staple in many kitchens, but also one of the biggest culprits in terms of waste. Consider reusable, plastic-free food wrap, instead. These crafty covers are made with a combination of natural fibers and beeswax, making them moldable, washable, and an eco-friendly way to wrap fruits, veggies, bowls or plates.
2. Sack the Tea Bags
Paper tea bags are full of toxins, pesticides, and are often bleached as part of the manufacturing process. Not many are biodegradable, either. The swap? Loose-leaf tea and reusable tea strainers. Not only does loose-leaf tea taste better, but there are a ton of super-cute strainers to choose from, and you’ll cut your bag-waste big time!
3. Sack Plastic Bags, Too.
Nothing new here, but bringing reusable shopping bags to the grocery store is a super-simple way to say no to single-use plastic. Many grocery stores have banned them outright, while others charge you 5¢ each in the hopes of persuading you to a more sustainable option. Worse still, these enviro-violators can take hundreds of years to break down! Long story short: Pass on plastic bags whenever possible.
4. Stick with Non-Stick Silicone
Silicone mats are not new, but have only recently become popular with the at-home baking crowd. These washable, non-stick superstars are the perfect replacement for costly parchment paper, and work like magic at creating a non-stick (and non-toxic!) surface for your cookie sheets.
5. Cut Out the Chemical Cleaners
So, you’re going to “clean” your counters by spraying them with chemicals? Doesn’t make a lot of sense when you think about it. Besides, one of the most effective germ-killing household cleaners is also one of the most natural, and most inexpensive: white vinegar. When paired with baking soda and a few drops of your favorite organic essential oils, there’s nothing this old-school combo can’t clean or disinfect.
6. Essential Oils for a Breath of Fresh Air
Same goes for chemical-based air “fresheners”. They may smell OK, but they do little more than mask odors; you’re literally filling your space, and your lungs, with formaldehyde, benzene, limonene, and who knows what else. Organic essential oils, on the other hand, are plant-based, they smell like heaven, and are super versatile. Add them to humidifiers, diffusers, or even a boiling pot of water to freshen your home or office au naturale.
7. Think Before You Throw Away
It’s easy to get lazy when it comes to separating trash from recyclables from compostables. But, this simple act of thoughtful recycling and disposal can ensure our refuse goes where it needs to go with minimal impact to the environment. Rinse containers clean, keep plastic out of the trash, and if you’re unsure how to dispose of something, check with your local municipality; they’ll be happy to help.
Becoming more environmentally conscious doesn’t have to be daunting. With a few simple swaps, and a more mindful approach to the products we choose, you’ll be living a cleaner, greener lifestyle in no time.