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Off to college this year, or returning to an off-campus apartment?  Well, that means you will become a consumer more so then when you lived at home with your parents. Here are some easy swaps you can make around your house that help the earth and your wallet.

Dryer Balls vs. Dryer Sheets

Instead of single-use dryer sheets that contain microplastics and harmful chemicals, purchase a pack of dryer balls! They are made of wool, can last through 1000 loads, and cut down your drying time.

 

This creates less waste, saves on your electric bills, and minimizes the use of chemicals in your laundry. You can purchase dryer balls from many low waste shops, Amazon, and local stores. If you are in Athens, the Kindred Market sells dryer balls, so call ahead to see if they’re in stock. 

 

    $9.30 for each at Kindred Market: 

https://kindred.storebyweb.com/s/1000-1/i/INV-1000-13441

 

    $36.00 for 6 Wool Balls at Package Free Shop:

https://packagefreeshop.com/products/natural-wool-dryer-balls

 

    $16.95 for 6 XL Dryer Balls at Amazon (Consider purchasing locally or asking for minimal packaging.) 

https://www.amazon.com/Smart-Sheep-Premium-Reusable-Softener/dp/B00GA9P5P0/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=dryer+balls&qid=1598387108&sr=8-5

 

Reusable Water Bottle vs. Plastic

This is an easy one as reusable water bottles are sold in most stores now.  When picking what’s right for you, opt for stainless steel or glass bottles that are not colored. This is the healthiest option for your body and for the environment. See the article about Stainless Steel Bottles below if you want to know more!

Reusable Storage Containers vs. Plastic Bags  

 

If you live in a dorm, this might not be as applicable to you. Yet, it is good for anyone to know that they have other options. Instead of plastic bags, consider using reusable silicone bags, glass Tupperware dishes, and even beeswax wraps. 

 

The average American household used 500 Ziploc bags every year (Recycle Nation). Imagine if you could purchase one set of silicone bags that could be used for many years, and save all that waste and money. Instead of spending $150 each year on bags (Evelve), purchase a set of silicone bags for under $50 that will last for years. 

 

Beeswax Wraps are an additional way to save on plastic waste in the kitchen. Instead of using plastic wrap, use these reusable wraps on fruit, veggies, and even containers. 

 

    $38.00 for Silicone Bag Set from Package Free Shop:
https://packagefreeshop.com/products/reusable-silicone-storage-bag-bundle

 

    $12.55 for a 10 Pack of Silicone Bags from Walmart

https://www.walmart.com/ip/10PCS-Reusable-Silicone-Food-Bag-Zero-Waste-Ziplock-Food-Storage-Bag-Refrigerator-Fresh-Bags/220259454

 

    $18.00 for Beeswax Wraps from Package Free Shop: 

https://packagefreeshop.com/products/abeego-variety-pack

 

Kitchen Towels vs. Paper Towels

When you are at home and make a huge spill on the counter, do you reach for a bunch of paper towels or a kitchen towel? If the answer is a kitchen towel, then you are already halfway toward making a change!  When moving into my apartment this year, I refused to buy paper towels. While I found it incredibly inconvenient for the first week, I don’t regret my decision. 

 

    Instead of using single-use paper towels every time I saw a mess, I would use a kitchen towel until it got dirty. Soon enough, I realized I was wasting paper towels on things like water or crumbs that don’t dirty a reusable kitchen towel after one use. The outcome of this “experiment” was WAY less trash, a smaller grocery budget, and more counter space.

 

  Glass Jars vs. Plastic  

This is an easy change to make if you take an extra second to think about your purchases.  Say you are making spaghetti one night. You go to the store to pick up the sauce to put over pasta. My guess is that the store you went to has at least five shelves of options. Take one step to the left or right, and see if you can find an option in a glass jar instead of a plastic one. They are likely to be the same price and introduce you to a new brand! 

 

    Why is this important? Well, companies cater to their consumers. If everyone stopped buying the spaghetti sauce that came in plastic containers and chose glass, companies would stop selling them in plastic containers. Glass containers are more likely to be recycled or reused then plastic, so this small change can make a major difference in the life cycle of a container and creating less waste. While it is hard to think that your purchases are making a difference, they truly do when combined with other people making the same positive purchases.

 

 

Sources and Articles:

Ditch Dryer Sheets: https://www.ecowatch.com/why-you-need-to-ditch-dryer-sheets-1881714654.html

 

Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

 

Stainless Steel Bottles are the Best: 

https://waterbottle.io/reasons-why-you-er-a-plastic-one-bottle-over-a-plastic-one/

 

Waste Management Numbers: 

http://www.wmnorthwest.com/guidelines/plasticvspaper.htm

 

Random Plastic Bag Facts- with article Links

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/sustainability/plastic_bag_facts.html#:~:text=Americans%20use%20100%20billion%20plastic,plastic%20shopping%20bags%20a%20year.

 

Ziploc Bags

https://recyclenation.com/2014/10/recycle-ziploc-bags/

 

Plastic Baggies or Silicone Bags: 

https://www.evelveproject.com/blogs/news/ditch-ziplock-bags

 

Junior at Ohio University studying Management Information Systems and Business Analytics. Member of the Select Leaders Development Program in the College of Business. I enjoy using writing as a way to express my thoughts in an informal way and to help others with the little things in life.
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