Isn't spring just the BEST? Everywhere you look, you'll see blossoming trees, bright flowers, birds chirping, and green finally taking back the turf. It's the perfect time of year for Earth Day, dontcha think?
I'm setting some new goals to use even less plastic, waste less food, and shop smarter this year. Maybe you're inspired to make some personal changes to benefit the environment, and wondering where to start. Let Earth Day inspire you to make simple, lasting changes! I keep chipping away at wasteful habits and made some changes over the past year. These are all things that I actually do regularly (I would never pretend "always" or "perfectly") so I can attest to their simplicity and painlessness.
Bring your own bottle of water. Everywhere. I have a couple of glass bottles that fit easily into my work bag and my everyday bag. If you don't carry a bag, at least have a reusable bottle at work and in your car. Repeat after me: "I don't need a plastic water bottle, and I will avoid them at all costs."
2. Swap your paper towels for cloth
|A sampling of our kitchen cloths|
|A week's worth of kitchen cloths.|
Granted, the basket of used cloths is not the prettiest, but this is the full week's worth of kitchen towels and washcloths, ready to go down to the laundry room. If I could be less forgetful, I could keep the dirty towels tucked out of sight, but we tried that and I consistently forgot to throw them in with the load of bath towels each week. If you're wondering whether adding washable cloths to your laundry routine will just require more water and nix the green effects of ditching paper towels, I'll say that our kitchen towels will never make or break our load of hot-water laundry. I only wash towels and linens on hot water, and switching to cloth in the kitchen has never once required its own load. I still keep a roll of paper towels, because, let's be honest, with a kid and a dog there are rare instances of needing to dispose of your cleaning tool immediately, but we've had the same roll of paper towels for more than 2 months now.
3. Refuse plastic bags, even if you forgot to bring your own
Raise your hand if you have a plethora of reusable shopping bags, but manage to forget them 82% of the time. I even have a couple that roll up into a tiny bundle to fit into my purse, and I STILL manage to be caught empty handed once in a while. Guess what? You can still say "no" to a plastic bag. If your items will fit in your hands, just carry them on out to your car, or shove a few of them into your backpack/baby bag/purse at the checkout. Or, and I promise you I actually have done this, just tell the cashier you forgot your bags and push your whole cart of Target loot out to the parking lot and put it into your car (GASP!) without bags. Get your bags at home (or boxes, or whatever - I find IKEA blue bags ideal for this!) and haul everything into the house. No extra plastic bags have entered your home. You might feel like a weirdo the first time you do this, but it gets easier.
4. Experiment with your shower routine
After a lifetime of struggling to find the right products to "manage" my coarse, thick, oil-prone hair, I feel like I have finally found my dream hair-washing routine. I have experimented with various phthalate/sulfate/paraben/petroleum/animal product/animal testing - free shampoos and conditioners for years, and I was stuck in the same cycle: Wash hair, hair feels dry and crunchy, condition hair, hair feels grimey and full of build up. Put up with grimey/dry hair until next shower. Repeat. I tiptoed towards "No Poo" (when you stop washing your hair all together and just rinse with apple cider vinegar once in a while), but couldn't do it. Then, I discovered this stuff.
A shampoo bar! Paper packaging! And the ingredients are all familiar and pronounceable! And best of all, it's so gentle, I don't need to use conditioner at all. Ever. I can actually get away with washing my hair every other day, and it is shiny without being oily, and clean without feeling dry. I've found one other ultra-gentle shampoo that is a liquid that comes in a plastic bottle that Les also likes, so I alternate between the two. Consider experimenting with your products to see if you can find your sweet spot and ditch something you thought you needed. It's thrilling to realize you can pare down and prefer the results to the multi-product, questionable chemical routine you thought you had to keep.
Oh, and we use package-free bar soap now, too, and love it.
|Our current pile of soaps and my bin of shower wash cloths. No plastic "loofahs" ever again.|
5. Carry a handkerchief
I was grossed out, too, when I contemplated it. But the fact is, most of my tissue-using in the spring is from allergy-inspired drippage. Just obnoxious little drips that drive me insane but do not require a whole tissue to address. One of my friends made me a sweet little set of reusable cloth "anything wipes" for Pia's baby shower, and now I keep one in every coat pocket, and in my purse and in Pia's baby stuff backpack. And they can go right into that load of towel washables after they've been used. They're softer than paper tissues, too! Your nose will thank you. If you don't have a thoughtful and talented friend to make some for you, you can buy washable baby wipes just about anywhere and use those. Or find some pretty vintage handkerchiefs and feel fancy AND green.
This Earth Day, I'm promising myself that this is the year I reform some of my plastic-dependencies and commit to finding non-plastic alternatives for things I regularly discard. There are blogs and books devoted to "plastic free life" now, so time to dig in and see what I can find.
My other Earth Day Resolutions are:
* Make sure all the closet-purged clothing that is too worn to be donated finds its way to a textile recycling option rather than ending up in the garbage bin. Read more about why here, or google "textile waste" and heave a big sigh.
* Make the sun work for me more often, whether it be drying clothes or "bleaching" stains, or disinfecting hard-to-wash kid stuff.
* Minimize disposables in every area of my consumer life.
* Fewer and fewer animal products. I'm not in the "full vegan" life stage right now, but I could do with less dairy and fewer eggs. Only second-hand leather and silk from now on.
What are some changes you want to make? Let's encourage each other to simpler, gentler, greener living.