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Earth is what we all have in common. It is home to our inventions, celebrations, heartbreaks, and discoveries. It is a worldwide truth. Humans, animals, and plants all reside within its boundaries. And as most intelligent creatures on earth (man-given title), it’s our duty to protect it. Here are 5 ways in which we can secure a clean and green future for all living beings:

1) Drink from a reusable water bottle

Plastic water bottles are not just invading our oceans and landfills, but also our bank accounts. The average American spends $5 a week on plastic water bottles. You can save $260 a year by switching to a reusable water bottle. Not only are you preventing the loss of money, but you are also making a healthy change to your own lifestyle. When plastic water bottles are exposed to heat, the chemicals in the plastic seep into the water and contaminate it. Value your body, your bank account, and the environment and make the switch today!

2) Switch to a period cup

A period cup is a flexible cup that is meant to be inserted into the vagina during the menstrual cycle to retain blood. It is a greener, safer, and more cost-effective than tampons and pads. The average woman spends $120 on pads or tampons EVERY year. More than 7 billion of these products end up in landfills every year. Not only is it wasteful and expensive, but hazardous to women’s health. Almost all period products contain latex, BPA, or dye. Most tampons contain bleached rayon- an ingredient linked to cancer-causing byproduct dioxin.

Period cups last at least one year and average around $30. An extensive list comparing 10 different brands of period cups can be found here.

3) Say no to straws

500 million plastic straws are used every day in the U.S. and most of these straws are ending up in the ocean. As a result, over half of the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic. And this includes the turtle from the 2015 cringe-inducing viral video of researchers pulling a 4-inch plastic straw from a crying sea turtle’s bloody nostril. Please, drink straight from the cup or bring your own reusable straw.  A pack of 6 stainless steel straws (and two cleaning brushes) is available at Walmart for less than $10.

4) Give up meat at least once a week

Grazing cattle pose a particularly large threat to the planet as it takes about one acre of land to sustain a single cow. Meat companies choose to compromise our environment through deforestation. They tear down trees in order to make room for the cattle they later kill. This ties back to our high levels of demand for meat products. If everyone gave up meat once a week, companies would raise fewer cows. National Geographic predicts that at the rate humanity is going, we have about 100 years left before the rainforest is completely wiped out.

5) Bring your own produce and grocery bag

Single-use items are mother nature’s silent killers. The U.S has produced over 9 billion tons of plastic since the 1950’s and 91% has not been recycled. Grocery stores are guilty of offering both plastic grocery bags and plastic produce bags. Both products are major contributors to the world’s plastic problem. Not only would bringing your own produce & grocery bags reduce waste, but many stores offer a small discount to customers who bring their own bags. You can buy five produce bags for $12 on Amazon. Don’t forget to recycle your Amazon boxes as well!

Ditch the chemicals, constant purchases, and plastic packaging and make a direct impact on our beautiful Earth today! In the words of the iconic Sydney Smith, “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little–do what you can.”

Hi, my name is Kimberly Camacho. I am the president of Her Campus Chapter at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am an active junior who is majoring in Marketing and minoring in Art. I am a dog person but a current cat mom. One day, I hope to open my own feminist clothing company, but until then I intend on gaining industry experience by working in advertising and being involved in woman-oriented organizations. Please feel free to reach out at any time with any questions and concerns, or even to go grab a cup of coffee.
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