In today’s world, the importance of being environmentally friendly has never been more prominent. Every action, from the most minor purchase to the most significant use of our planet’s natural resources, has a consequence on the environment. For that reason, being more environmentally conscientious is more crucial than ever. However, it’s not always easy to know what the everyday person can do to help — and that’s where I come in. Here are five easy ways to reduce your environmental footprint!
- Switching to Reusable Bags
Every year, 12 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the 30 billion single-use plastic bags consumed in the U.S. — most of which end up in landfills or the environment. If you’re looking for a way to reduce the amount of single-use plastic in your life, look no further: From mesh produce bags to silicone food storage bags, investing in reusable bags is the conservationist’s answer to sustainable shopping and food prep. Though reusable bags have a higher environmental impact up front, it only takes 131 uses for cotton bags to outpace the impact of plastic and 11 uses for non-woven polypropylene. So the next time you visit your local grocery store, glance over their selection of reusable bags — it’s worth it.
- Changing Up Your Shaving Routine
In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that over 2 billion disposable razors make their way to U.S. landfills annually, a number that’s most likely increased over the past 30 years. However, did you know there’s a way to shave that’s more environmentally sustainable and offers a closer shave? Because all you have to replace is the (recyclable) metal blade inside the handle, metal safety razors are a virtually zero-waste option for the conscientious consumer. And bonus: though buying a safety razor costs more upfront, blade refills are much cheaper than disposable razors and often come with 10 or more per pack.
- Composting Food Scraps
If you’re like me, food scraps may not be the first thing that comes to mind when picturing the contents of a landfill. However, approximately 120 billion pounds of food waste are deposited in U.S. landfills annually, and it stays there as the scraps can only decompose with proper aeration. Over time, these scraps produce large volumes of methane, a gas 80 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. So how can the everyday person avoid contributing food waste to landfills? The answer is easy: composting. Composting reduces the volume of organic materials that might be disposed of in landfills by breaking them down into fertilizer. It’s inexpensive, easy to do at home, and supplies natural fertilizer for your yard or garden! Check out an in-depth guide to composting here.
- Eating Seasonally, Locally, and/or Organically
Though consuming organic products helps reduce pesticide pollution, it’s not always affordable. Luckily, there are options available for girlies shopping on a budget. Buying from local vendors at farmer’s markets or stands can be less expensive than buying organic produce, with similar environmental impact and the added bonus of supporting your local economy. Don’t have farmer’s markets in your area? No problem. Shopping seasonally — or only buying in-season produce — is a great way to reduce waste associated with long-distance transportation costs at no extra cost from you.
- Being Mindful With Clothing
Making sustainable clothing choices can feel overwhelming, as many ethical factors must be considered. However, there are a few good rules of thumb for those looking to make an impact without gutting their entire closet. Washing clothes in cold water and air drying them when possible preserves the life span of your clothing and reduces energy use associated with laundry. Because water heating consumes about 90% of the total energy used to operate a washing machine, changing your washer’s temperature can cut energy use in half. Investing in a pill shaver, learning how to fix small holes, and reattach buttons are also effective ways of getting the most bang for your buck. This helps ensure your beloved pieces remain intact for a long time. However, one of the most important guidelines is to avoid buying from fast fashion brands when possible. Not only will fast fashion pieces fall apart quickly, but of the 100 billion fast-fashion garments produced annually, 87% will end up in a landfill.