Our busy lives get overwhelming sometimes.
It’s why there are so many businesses that have sprung up around the idea of convenience. Convenience stores, fast food, disposable plates and utensils. The idea is to free up more time so that we can do all the things that we need to do to take care of ourselves and our families.
But what if the things that we think are freeing our time are actually harming us?
We’d have to live in a cave in the middle of nowhere with no Wi-Fi and no outside communication at all not to know about global warming. All we have to do is look at the last month’s news in North America alone to see all the indicators. Earthquakes, wildfires, and a series of increasingly severe hurricanes pummeling our shores are all signs that the climate has been changing. There are a number of reasons, but one of the largest is greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing pollution and our carbon footprint is absolutely essential to slowing the rate of climate change and protecting our Earth and its natural resources.
I’m a busy mom of two, and I get that convenience is, well, convenient. Sometimes I’m also overwhelmed by all that I have to do. We can all be kept busy simply grocery shopping, cleaning our homes, cooking meals, and taking care of our pets and children. But as a citizen of this planet, I’m concerned about my own carbon footprint, and the more I look into eco-friendly options, the more I learn that it’s not as difficult as it seems.
It may seem daunting when we first get started, but here are 26 easy ways to go green and help fight climate change:
1. We can purchase eco-friendly straws. I’ll be honest: this one blew my mind! I had no idea that simply using plastic straws was so damaging to the environment. I hadn’t given it a single thought. We use straws in our household often since I have two very small children. I began looking at more eco-friendly options, and I found a wealth of options. Once we make a selection, we simply have to remember to decline straws (or specifically ask not to be given one) at fast food and other restaurants.
2. We can make sure to recycle. Most packaging is recyclable and will carry the recyclable logo. We can recycle bottles, boxes, and cans.
3. We can reduce waste by practicing easy composting. Banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells can all be placed in our gardens and lawns for easy and natural composting.
4. We can walk or bicycle rather than drive when we have the option.
5. We can raise our children to be conscious consumers by being an example and living a green/eco-friendly lifestyle.
6. We can make sure our makeup is eco-friendly and does not utilize animal testing.
7. Women, we can choose more eco-friendly options for our menstrual cycles—including organic pads, menstrual cups, and even period panties. There is a sea-sponge tampon option, too, but it’s not an option that travels well.
8. We can shop local. Around birthdays and holidays in particular, we can try to purchase from the small businesses in our communities.
9. We can shop the organic section of our grocery stores for produce free of harmful chemicals.
10. We can purchase groceries from our local farmer’s market or participate in a co-op that delivers farm-fresh produce, eggs, and sometimes even meat from local farmers.
11. We can up-cycle toys, furniture, and other household items rather than throwing them out.
12. We can purchase used clothing and shoes and also donate our own gently used clothes and shoes rather than throwing them away as one means of ensuring that the fashion we wear is ethical, eco-friendly, and sustainable.
13. We can stop using Styrofoam. While I recently watched a TED talk on a potential way to recycle styrofoam into water filters, the technology hasn’t been made widely available yet. In the meantime, we can use real, reusable plates and cups for gatherings, or go with paper options for cups and plates if we feel we need a disposable option—doing our best to buy those made from recycled materials.
14. We can bring our own reusable coffee mugs to our fancy coffee shops and ask to use them rather than using the disposable option.
15. We can grow our own fresh produce and herbs in small gardens. It’s even possible to grow herbs indoors—even in apartments, there’s a way to do a small container garden!
16. We can make sure we feed our pets organic pet food and use biodegradable pet supplies.
17. When grocery shopping, we can choose products that use eco-friendly packaging and/or packaging that’s recyclable.
18. We can print on recycled paper and make an effort to print on both sides of the paper when possible.
19. We can use eco-friendly wrapping paper at holidays. Options include using fabric to wrap gifts (pillow cases, tablecloths, and so on), reusing gift bags rather than discarding them, recycling newspaper or brown paper as wrapping paper, making old maps or calendars into gift wrap, and making gift bows out of old magazines.
20. We can make our holiday traditions more eco-friendly. At Christmas, we cover pine cones in peanut butter and roll them in birdseed for our animal friends and place them outside. We can string popcorn on our trees and make homemade cinnamon ornaments instead of cheap plastic ornaments likely shipped from overseas. There are even eco-friendly options for Easter eggs and ways to reuse Valentine’s gifts.
21. We can use all-natural, eco-friendly cleaning supplies in our homes.
22. We can purchase a water filtration system for our sinks rather than using plastic water bottles. We can even purchase reusable bottles so that we’re never tempted to buy another plastic water bottle.
23. We can donate used books to the library and purchase our books used. Old books that are falling apart can sometimes be upcycled into clocks, purses, and other great items!
24. We can use cloth diapers rather than disposable ones (for those with babies). I know this one is tough, but it can be a great way to reduce diaper waste—which, if you’ve had babies, you know can be quite a lot.
25. We can purchase reusable sandwich bags or boxes instead of using disposable plastic ones. Reusable snack containers are also a great way to package snacks for ourselves and our children rather than using a disposable option. One of my favorite reusable items is the squeeze pouch for applesauce (it’s even dishwasher safe). It’s also a great option for baby food on the go with older babies, and it reduces the waste of purchasing disposable blended or pureed food pouches.
26. We can carpool. This never goes out of style. Making plans to carpool even once or twice a week is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint—and maybe to make some friends, too!
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle does take consideration, but it is doable. It can also be more affordable, particularly when we reuse items, purchase used rather than new, upcycle, and start to grow our own gardens. The key is to slow down and be mindful in considering how each of our decisions might affect the health of our common home.
Reducing our carbon footprint and slowing the rate of climate change is something that’s completely possible, but it’s up to each of us to do our part. That might mean picking up trash we see on the road or raising awareness about what is and isn’t recyclable. It might mean that when we come across great eco-friendly fashion or reusable products, we can tell our friends. If every household makes an effort, we can start to see a significant difference!
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Travis May