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October 20, 2020

New Year, New Eco-Friendly Me.

I was really starting to get bored with New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve always rolled my eyes at “new year, new me,” yet every year my unimaginative brain would decide on the resolution of “lose weight, get healthier,” just like everyone else.

Last year, I decided on something different: I made a resolution to become more eco-friendly.

To the naysayers, I have only one point: at worst, being eco-friendly hurts no one, but at best, it can help save the planet. From water, air, and ground pollution to the melting ice caps, to the multitude of other negative effects of unmitigated human activity, there can only be benefits to investing in practices that reduce waste and the carbon footprint.

I had no idea where to begin, so I started with odds and ends that I thought allowed for an immediate sense of action. I bought Ziploc bags and vowed to rewash and reuse them until they resembled Swiss cheese. I can say with pride that 18 months later, I am down to my last three one-gallon freezer bags from a box of 10. I brought canvas bags to the grocery stores (aided by a state ban on plastic grocery bags). I left the automatic engine button on in my car to reduce idle engine time. You know, little things.

Not satisfied with this effort, however, I began looking into organizations and actual eco-friendly products that I could start incorporating into my life. One group, 4Ocean, makes sustainable water bottles that come with a return label so that once you’re done with your bottle, you can mail it back to them to be responsibly recycled (my brother got that for Christmas—he’s welcome). They also make adorable recycled bracelets themed by sea creatures. You’re welcome.

Recently, I purchased reusable, dishwasher-safe storage bags to replace my single-use Ziplocs. Net Zero Co. makes some great ones with a variety of size options—as well as cotton produce bags for grocery shopping, among many other items. Although the reusable bags are more expensive than the average box of Ziplocs ($25 for four bags), think of how many boxes of single-use bags you would have purchased by the time these sturdier bags run out. In the long-term, not only are you saving the planet, but you’re saving your bank account, too.

I also plan on buying some of Bite’s products once my acquired hoard of all-natural ingredient toothpaste runs out (long story there, but I was the proud recipient of my company’s leftover samples from an event donation). Bite produces eco-friendly toothpaste tablets, floss, and mouthwash tablets.

While I whittled down my toothpaste stores, I also began getting my laundry detergent delivered by Dropps, who make eco-friendly net-zero detergent pods (that—bonus track—doesn’t irritate my reactive skin!), and my toilet paper delivered by the best company name ever: Who Gives a Crap. Who Gives a Crap delivers sustainable, recycled toilet paper with net-zero shipping and packaging. Being an ass has never felt better!

The summary is this: I started my environmental journey knowing nothing other than I could do more than I was doing for the environment. I had a simple mission to be as eco-friendly as I could with what I had, and it led me down a beautiful rabbit hole into a world of products I never knew existed.

I’m now proud to shop with my mesh produce bags that then go into my canvas grocery bags. I’m excited to purchase a bamboo toothbrush once my current plastic ones exhaust their usefulness. Most importantly, I finally feel like I have some direction on how to be a more environmentally-friendly me. Not everyone can be a Greta Thunberg, but everyone can help normalize being conscious of our impact on the planet by learning what we can do to help.

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Kathryn Herbert  |  Contribution: 260

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