Switching to environmentally friendly solutions can see totally overwhelming. LBH a #zerowaste lifestyle is a daunting task, especially in a fast-pace world run by plastic, one of the most harmful waste materials to the environment.
FUN FACT: About 4.4 pounds of waste is generated per person every day! According to studies by Science Advances, 12 billion metric tons of near-eternal litter will accumulate in the environment by 2050!
Phew, pretty scary stuff! But once I started making small, plastic-free changes to my regular routine, I began to feel a lot happier! Even though the adjustments were small, reducing even a tiny fraction of waste seems like a good way to go.
OK, SEEMS LEGIT. BUT I’M YOUNG & BROKE AND ON A BUDGET!
Hey, I totally get it! During and after college, I struggled with space and finances: from a dorm room the size of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs, to a one-bedroom apartment with one shelf for storage, I could almost feel the effects of so much clutter. For someone who’s moved a total of eight times in four years (bit of a free spirit, so I’m told), I realized that getting my sh*t together isn’t so easy when there’s too much of it. Did I really need 32 coffee mugs? My mind said yes, but with no extra space for my plates or glasses, I knew I might have a problem.
And you know what else took up most of my space? Bulk items such as paper towels, plastic silverware, and Tupperware! For a more conscious living, the Queen Bea herself got me inspired, and I hope I can inspire you too!
Now TBH, taking small steps will be your best friend! For certain things, it could take a few weeks or two months to fully adjust but trust me, it’s worth it! These are the five small (but major!) steps I found to work for me that I trust could work for you too.
5 Environmentally Friendly Swaps That’ll Save you Money
1. OPT FOR CLOTH
V great, I mean really! Instead of buying paper towels and napkins, go for organic cloth napkins. I found the cutest patterns on Etsy, where I fell in love with a set in teal, my kitchen’s accent color. Check the details, especially when shopping online. For me, 100% cotton. Bonus: machine washable my friend.
For every day cleaning or those unruly spills and messes, try an “unpaper towel.” No seriously, you’ll be so glad you switched! I bought a set in white for easy washing. Handmade, tough as nails! Just plop ‘em in the dryer after washing. If they get wrinkled, just a quick smoothing over with your hand does the trick, and they are good to go. Easy, peasy! Already, the extra spending (and bulk storage) of paper towels and napkins are eliminated. Go team!
2. SUGAR, SPICE, AND STORED IN GLASS IS NICE
Remember those cramped cabinets filled with containers? Good bye Tupperware slightly stained from spaghetti sauce! The bad thing about plastic containers is potentially exposing our food to harmful chemicals. Yuck.
Luckily, you can purchase glass jars in most stores. As a recent college grad in the awkward middle before postgrad study, my tiny budget’s still pretty tiny! If you’re anything like me, Goodwill becomes a valuable resource! You can find mason jars (my personal favorite) in various sizes for like .50 cents. #WIN. Fill them with all kinds of goodies, and make use of those leftovers! I loveee watching Goodful videos on Facebook for mason jar food prep, especially their ideas for salads and smoothies. Not only does it save space in your cabinets, but in your fridge and freezer too!
3. THE BEE’S KNEES – AND WAX
Let’s not forget all those plastic baggies we love so much. IDK how many of those things I’ve went through! But fear not, lovelies, because you can buy reusable bags and wraps, even for bread! There are several brands to choose from, like Beeswax, that makes it fun, easy, and affordable. Plus, more free space on those shelves! Whoo hoo!
4. DITCH DISPOSABLE CUPS
Okay, so I have an unnatural obsession with Starbucks. My car is always filled with empty coffee cups and green straws. Luckily, they have this awesome option to BYOC – bring your own cup. Now, I bring my stainless steel tumbler. As an added incentive, you get a discount for doing it! I only wish I could’ve discovered this sooner. Even their water is great. It’s like, triple filtered, so instead of buying yet another plastic water bottle when I’m rushing or on-the-go, I go to Starbs. For the quality, it’s fairly cheap – like .25 – just don’t forget to use your own cup!
5. NO CAN DO, CUPCAKE
Yeah, I need to work on this too. Saying “no” actually helps reduce waste and keep that corner space empty. Don’t take that free shirt being handed to you on campus when you know you’ll wear it once before it takes permanent residence in the back of your dresser drawer. Say “no” to those free magazine subscriptions that start to bill you unexpectedly several months later. Say “no” to paper statements from your bank.
And there you have it! Much of reducing waste comes with learning what you don’t need and ridding yourself of all the excess. When you come out feeling happier with better balance in life, why not give the plastic cleanse a try? You’ll be surprised at all its benefits! And the things you’ll continue to learn along the way. You’ll be feeling #blessed with less stress!