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

Have you ever heard the phrase “There’s no planet B?” Well, scientists are currently studying the possibility of finding life on another planet within our solar system, such as Venus and Mars. But we need to be realistic. It could take decades, centuries or an unimaginable amount of time—maybe I’m wrong—before we find another atmosphere where we could visit the beach, drink coffee or just sit down and watch a movie like we do in ours.

At the moment, the only place you can enjoy all of your preferred activities is planet Earth. Unfortunately, air pollution, water contamination, and deforestation, among other things, are destroying this place we call our home. Researchers have found waste related to numerous non-biodegradable materials, including plastic, a convenient yet detrimental material that we are far too dependent on. The damage is already done and the predictions of how global warming will escalate are disturbing. But not everything is lost. 

From our position as human beings and inhabitants of this awesome planet, we can do the unbelievable. Believe it or not, once people notice the lifestyle changes that you’re implementing, they’ll adopt them too. It all starts with the self-consciousness that increases as you continue to spend time with the people that surround you—and it doesn’t have to be boring. 

From food to beauty products, there are hundreds of options to start living a sustainable life by taking up small habits that aren’t really small in the grand scheme of things. Here are five local brands to fill your day-to-day life with sustainable products.

Day-to-day items: Granos PR

Founded in 2019 by Yunielis Clemente Ortiz, whose connection with nature made her passionate about caring for Mother Earth, Granos PR is your local go-to online green store. Alongside Paula, Granos PR’s environmentally conscious social media manager, Clemente Ortiz works day by day to offer sustainable products to substitute common household items that are harmful for the environment. At Granos PR, you’ll find toothbrushes, portable cutlery sets, and multipurpose cleaning brushes: all of them made with bamboo. 

Other available products, such as straws, bottles and razors, are metal-based. There are also reusable bags, soaps and vegetable sponges. It’s a great way to start incorporating eco-friendly habits and catching other people’s attention from the comfort of your home. 

And the most amazing thing: they don’t use plastic packaging! Their wrappings are biodegradable, which means that you can plant them or reuse them! Every day you’ll find scraps at the beach, streets and many other places. Fortunately, non-profit organizations help on a day by day scale to clean polluted areas and save the ecosystem. If you can’t attend organized coastal cleanups, then you can help by owning your own bamboo toothbrush or cutlery set. Mother Earth will appreciate it.

You can check them out here: @granospr

Menstrual pads: Wonder Pads

This is art. These reusable menstrual pads are created after putting in hard work and dedication using your hands and a sewing machine. Shery Vega started making cotton and bamboo-based menstruation pads ten years ago. But what do we know about disposable menstruation pads? Millions of these products end up in the ocean and cannot be recycled because of sanitary reasons. 

Our hectic lifestyles tend to support the idea of a quick and easy changing of disposable pads during our periods, which benefits consumerist culture. Unfortunately, these pads end up mostly in the ocean, releasing dangerous chemicals and polluting microscopic materials. Although it is not openly discussed, disposable feminine hygiene products could also be harmful for our sexual health. Plenty of organizations are working to publicly expose what international brands want to ignore. 

Vega said that with her work, “the planet saves mountains of sanitary pads, tampons and disposable diapers.” And, as you may read, they represent not only a benefit for the environment, but also for our health and pockets!

You can check them out here: @wonderpads

Skin care: Löfte Natural Care

This brand has a special meaning. Annette Colón, the project’s founder, was inspired to create safe products for the human body after two of her family members were diagnosed with cancer. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María, life was difficult for Puerto Ricans. However, Löfte, which means promise, was one of the few small local businesses that grew in the hurricanes’ aftermath. Right now, they’re working on producing deodorants, body lotions, soaps, and more. 

Last Christmas season was a special one for this brand, as they offered a bundle (soap, lotion and exfoliator) of turrón, coquito and cinnamon, popular Puerto Rican holiday fragrances. It was a must-have! Every product is made with immense care because they were initially designed to hydrate Annette’s mom throughout her cancer condition with the deodorant, and her husband, with soaps. 

With these products, you can treat oily or dry skin, or clinical problems such as dermatitis. These products are made with natural ingredients and are distributed in pharmacies, as well as on Löfte’s website. By using them, you can safely take care of your skin, protect animals, and avoid water contamination with harmful residues, as happens with regular SPFs.

You can check them out here: @lofte_natural_care

Makeup: Fierce Potions

Quarantine shouldn’t mean you can’t look flawless. Social media users and influencers are discussing if it’s worth it to wear makeup—lipstick, specifically—amidst this COVID-19 pandemic. As our time in quarantine passes, and we must continue to use our masks, makeup has taken another form. However, we still have formal meetings, special virtual parties, and gatherings with the people we’re closest to. 

So, why not wear it? The key is to not use it while your mask is on! That’s part of the skin care. Despite our current situation, Eneidy Almodóvar, founder of Fierce Potions, keeps our lips glowing with vegan lip gloss with scents ranging from the delicious el bastón fragrance, which smells like bubblegum, to the elegant friendship potion. 

Fierce Potions’ glosses and other skin care products are cruelty free, which means they’re not tested on animals. The makeup industry is one of the most contaminant fields, not just because of plastic consumption, but also because some brands test on animals. So, what’s the key? If harmful chemicals aren’t used, there would be no need to test it on animals. Two problems solved!

You can check them out here: @fiercepotions

Food: Vegan Munchies PR

This list wouldn’t be complete without what many of us love the most: junk food! In Puerto Rico, we tend to call picaera all kinds of appetizers, or when we just do not want to eat a full meal, but these tend to include a lot of junk food. Since 2018, Vegan Munchies has been creating meals for people who still want to savour delicious empanadillas and empanadas while maintaining a plant-based diet.

Vegan Munchies has plenty of flavors: broccoli or “meat” and “cheese,” “pizza,” jackfruit (which looks like chicken), soy pepper “steak,” picadillo (stuffed meat with multiple seasoning species), and guava. Ordering delivery is very costumer-friendly and the product is packaged in recyclable or reusable cardboard (appropriate for the environment). 

These meals are a healthier way to enjoy junk food, without mistreating animals. The meat and dairy industries are amongst the most contaminating, and experts have alerted the media about the importance of reducing red meat consumption. Looking for options that don’t include animals in our diet is another way of contributing to the planet.

You can check them out here: @veganmunchiespr

I’m sure that there are hundreds of options to minimize our negative environmental impact on Earth. It doesn’t matter where you start; what’s important is that you take the first step, and everything else will follow. We can contribute from our own small space and our possibilities. These five local sustainable brands are part of a big group that contribute to improving our planet and our lifestyles. Let’s give them a little bit more love and support! 

Journalism and Political Science student at Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. Currently, practicing photography, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), UPR-RP chapter and journalist for Latitud 801 and Diálogo UPR. Mother Earth's friend. ?