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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Simmons chapter.

Climate change is real and terrifying. It can feel as though making small changes really don’t do anything, but I believe otherwise. We only have one planet and although we need big legislative changes, small and individual action does make a difference. Here are some ways to change your lifestyle to save the planet and money in the long run.

Wool dryer balls

Dryer sheets and fabric softeners are horrible not only the environment, but also for your skin. They are riddled with chemicals and don’t break down easily. Invest in wool dryer balls. They cut down drying time (so you can do two loads of laundry for one cycle), get rid of static, soften your clothes and decrease wrinkling. They also last a long time so investing in them saves you a lot of money on dryer sheets in the long run. Find them here.

Natural laundry detergent

Laundry detergent is pretty nasty when you start researching it. It contains 1,4-Dioxane, a chemical found in paint and varnishes as well as Tide. The EPA considers it a carcinogenic (having the potential to cause cancer). Tide and other popular detergents also contain other harmful chemicals that over time can seep into the skin. Not to mention that the chemicals get emitted into the air and are a pollutant. Try using Seventh Generation. Their products are more expensive, but the ingredients are all plant based and clearly listed. They source sustainability and are certified vegan, biobased and an EPA safer choice. They come in natural fragrances from essential oils as well as fragrance free. The detergent also come in pod form. Find it here.

Menstrual cup

I cannot rave enough about my menstrual cup. It is super comfortable and the risk of TSS is much lower than tampons and pads. They are made out of sustainable silicon and I have never, I repeat NEVER had it leak. Tampons and pads can contain harmful chemicals that leak into your body and are difficult to break down. It also doesn’t absorb beneficial bacteria like tampons do so your vaginal health stays intact. The amount of menstrual products thrown away each year is estimated at 45 billion. Tampons, pads, panty liners, and new underwear costs thousands of dollars over a lifetime. I spent about $40 on my menstrual cup (prices vary on brand and it’s cheaper now) and it will last me up to four years. Overall, I am cutting the cost of my period by more than half. The maintenance is super easy too — wash it every time I empty it and boil it for three minutes at the end of my cycle. If this isn’t for you, maybe try period underwear. Find a menstrual cup here.

Reusable water bottle

Need I say more? Also try reusable coffee cups. Most places (including Starbucks) will give you a discount for bringing your own. Save money on buying water bottles and your morning coffee.

Reusable straw

This just a small, but effective way to reduce your waste. Some even come with carrying cases so you can clip them to your purse or keys and be on your way. Find them here.

Reusable bags

Not only will it save you money with the Boston Bag Ban, but it obviously helps reduce waste. You can get one for a dollar or less and be set for a while. I have one that folds up and attaches to my purse (like in the picture) so I never have to worry about paying for a bag. If you do use bags, get paper then fill them with your recycling. Find them here.

Reusable snack bags

I really enjoy bringing snacks with me instead of buying them. Getting in bulk is cheaper and you don’t have all of the wasteful packaging. But, small sandwich bags were a must. I decided to try reusable snack bags and they are great! You can throw them in the dishwasher or clean them out in the sink and you’re good to go. Now I never have to go by snack bags and I’m making my habits better. Find them here.

Reusable produce bags

You can either buy these or DIY them from some old clothes. If you treat them right, they’ll last you years and save so much plastic. Pop them in the washer when necessary and put them in your reusable bags so you don’t forget. Find them here

I know this seems like a lot, but I’ve made these small changes over time—not all at once. Start with something easy like the shopping bags and water bottles then move on from there. Not everyone is perfect, but it matters that you try.

Sara Getman

Simmons '22

Sara is a current Undergraduate student at Simmons University, majoring in English and double minoring in Journalism and Political Science. She was the head editor and political writer at her high school newspaper and dreams of being a journalist some day. She is a junior editor for her Her Campus chapter and a radio host for Simmons The Shark radio. She's a musician, cat lover, artist, writer and obsessed with reading (especially Cassandra Clare.)
Julia Hansen is a senior at Simmons studying PR/Marketing Communications and English with minors in cinema, media arts, and graphic design. When not writing for Her Campus, she can be found reading every book she can find, retweeting photos of dogs and binge-watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Find her on IG @juliarosehansen