So far most of my posts have been related to food and my celiac disease. So I just wanted to try and switch it up this week.
I consider myself to be pretty environmentally conscious. I believe we should try our best to make decisions that will help the environment in the long run. In the past couple of years I have been swapping some of my everyday things for more environmentally friendly options, and I hope you will too.
I am far from being an expert in this subject, and am nowhere close to being completely zero waste, but I do what I can when I can.
One thing to note is making these switches often does take a bit of a financial investment. You have to decide if that initial investment is really worth it to you. Usually in the long run it’ll pay off, but that is just my opinion.
These first couple of things you may already be familiar with or using already.
I’m sure most of you know the options for reusable drink ware. These include things like a water bottle, or a thermos for when you go grab coffee.
I always have a water bottle with me wherever I go. If not I find that I do not drink enough water throughout the day. If you have one with you all the time you think about drinking water more than if you do not have a water bottle handy. Reusable water bottles are great because you can refill at water fountains or at restaurants free of charge. And water in plastic bottles can be stupid expensive in my opinion.
Most of the time I make coffee or tea at home. In this instance I use a mug and very little waste. When I do decide to go to a coffee shop I like to take a thermos. Most places will put your beverage in a reusable cup. Some places even reward this by giving you a slight discount on your beverage. It may not be much, but every little bit helps right?
With food allergies and dietary restrictions often times bringing my own food works best bet for me. So I got a nice lunch box, actually I got it as a gift, but that’s beside the point. Instead of using a paper bag to keep all my food items together I have a nice bag to carry it all in. If you take food with you often I would say a lunchbox is a good investment. It is especially nice in the case of something spilling because they are usually very easy to clean. Mine personally fit in my backpack and that is how I would carry it around all the time.
Reusable Grocery Bags
You can get reusable grocery bags at most large grocery stores. They do cost, whereas plastic bags don’t, at this point, but usually not too much. Some stores are actually switching over and working on phasing out plastic bags altogether. I would imagine many stores are going to be making moves this way in the near future. I personally keep my bags in my car, then I have them even if I randomly stop by the grocery. They also are much stronger than plastic bags.
If you’ve been following along you probably saw that I received a metal straw not too long ago. I backed the Final Straw Kickstarter and received my Final Straw in December. Since then I have had many chances to use it. Before I did not often use straws because most restaurants I would go to would be take away and I almost never buy a drink from them.
The final straw itself is very nice. I especially love that it has a carrying case. The straw and its carrying case lives on my car keys. The biggest challenge for me is remembering to tell my waiter/waitress that I do not want a straw when I am at a restaurant. A lot of the restaurants I go to are restaurants that may only give straws out on request, but some of them do still give straws to everyone. My straw also fits nicely in my thermos, so when I am driving I can drink from my thermos much easier.
A while back, probably middle school or high school I got fed up with bar soap because of how often I would drop it in the shower and switched to highly chemical body washes. After learning a lot more about how many chemicals are not regulated in the beauty industry, and being introduced to more artisanal soap makers with clean ingredients I switched back to bar soaps. This switch was also made easy because I have been gifted many different bar soaps recently.
Bar soaps are often packaged in less plastic than body washes. As mentioned before many soaps, especially if you get them from someone local that is making soap will often have little to no harmful substances compared to store brand body washes. One crazy thing about beauty products and self care items is the fact that the companies do not have to tell you what is in them. I’m sure I will write another post on this after watching the documentary Stink on Netflix. If you haven’t watched it I suggest it. I’ll be rewatching it and talking about some of the highlights hopefully here soon.
The remaining suggestions you may not know about, or may be less familiar with. I know they all are pretty new to me as well.
This was one of my presents for Christmas and I was so excited. Produce bags are often mesh bags that can be used as opposed to the plastic bags offered in stores. Mine are super cool because they give you a tare weight. With my situation and living with my family I have not used them yet, but I have had friends in the past have problems using their own storage ware for bulk items. If you are going to use produce bags, or jars for bulk make sure to get on their website or talk to someone at the store about their policies. Hopefully soon it will be so common that every store and store employees know how to tare out weights of jars for bulk items and such.
Ugh I could go on and on about my stasher bags. I’ve already converted some of my friends. They are reusable silicone bags. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from snack size to gallon sized. Many companies have made products similar to these. I have never tried any of the others because I loved these as soon as I got them.
As someone with Celiac, I pack snacks for pretty much everything. When I was living on campus and going to class all day I would take my lunch and these were so helpful. Or last October when I went to Europe my whole carry on was full of snacks in my stasher bags. Like legitimately my backpack only really carried snacks. These silicone bags are dishwasher safe, which is great. They are also good for being used in the freezer. I freeze fruit for smoothies in the gallon size. Overall they are just amazing. They are easy to maintain, and they are more sustainable than plastic baggies.
Menstruation is not talked about often, but it is such an important topic. I also talked about poop in like my first post because we should not think these things are shameful. I have been using a menstrual cup for about a year now. At first I was very skeptical, but saw these menstrual cups were on sale and decided to give it a shot.
It was so worth it. There are definitely some, somewhat gross downsides, but you will definitely get used to it. Period panties are also a big hit. Personally I have not tried them. I preferred tampons to pads and that is why I went with the cup. It takes a bit of getting used to when you first start using the cup. Overall it leaks less than tampons, and you can keep it in all day without worrying about it. The thing that took a while getting used to was the smell. It can smell pretty bad since all of the blood stays within you until you take the cup out. It can make a mess as well. If I know I am taking a shower in the evening I will take it out in the shower to combat both of these things.
All in all I am glad I made the switch. This is one of the switches I think you save the most money in the long run. There are a lot of variables, but feminine products are expensive and buying them every month is necessary, unless you switch to a cup or period panties.
The one I bought was from some company I don’t remember at this point. If I were to buy again I would buy from Sustain Natural. They just released their period cup. They are a women led company that produces all sorts of products for sexual and reproductive health. Along with that they are using their platform to educate on these topics as well which I find very cool. And although people do not like talking about sexual and reproductive health they are very important topics that need to be discussed.
Lastly here are some things I have not switched to yet, but hope to in the near future. With that being said if you have any advice on brands or tips and tricks to using them let me know.
A safety razor is a metal razor with replaceable blades. They last for many years as opposed to disposable razors. I personally have not done too much research yet on brand, or type of safety razor, but it is on my list of things to do as buying disposable razors gets expensive, well at least to get the good kind.
This is a new trend. Shampoo and conditioner in bar form, like a soap bar. These seem real cool because they can come with no packaging at all compared to normal shampoo that comes in plastic bottles. I do not know of any other alternatives at this time, but this may be my next switch.
Out of curiosity the other day I looked at the ingredients in the shampoo and conditioner I’ve been using for the past 5 years. They both have wheat in them. I do not know that this has been affecting me, but now that I am aware I will not be continuing to buy this product. Since I do not know that this is affecting me I am not throwing it all out, I will finish it, but like I said probably not continue using it. Isn’t it crazy that wheat and gluten are in beauty and self care products. I knew that were the case, but have never looked too in depth on it.
Bamboo toothbrushes are made to be compostable. This means that when given the right conditions they will break down and become one with the earth again. This is much better than the alternative of plastic. Plastic does not break down and all plastic ever produced still exists on earth today, a lot of it being in landfills. This will take me a bit to switch over. I have a lot of plastic toothbrushes I already have and I would rather use them and throw them out then not use them at all. It is still plastic, and it will still harm the environment, but I would feel worse if I threw them out without using them first.
Natural Household Cleaners
Many household cleaners have loads of chemicals in them. These chemicals may or may not be harmful to the environment. Many of them have also not been tested for how they effect human health. And the U.S. regulates very little when it comes to chemicals. Nowadays many people are making their own household cleaning products, or choosing to buy from brands that are more transparent about what they are using in their products. I currently do not have much control over cleaning products as I am living under someone else’s roof, but in the future hope to either buy safer cleaning products for my home, or even make my own.
So there ya have it folks. A list of some things I use, and would like to use that are more environmentally friendly than their plastic filled counterparts.
If you want to learn more about any of them let me know in the comments and I could do a full post on any of them. Or if you have any advice leave it in the comments as well!