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

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am very worried and scared for the future of our planet. Little by little, we continue damaging our world by using tons of plastic and other non-degradable materials that go straight to the trash after we use them once. There’s trash in the ocean, the soil, the grass, and in every other nook and cranny. Climate change is a problem that will soon be impossible to avoid. Fortunately, we still have some time (even if it’s not a lot) to contribute our grain of salt and work towards a better and cleaner habitat. We’re going to give you some tips and swaps you can make to generate less waste.

Use a Reusable Water Bottle

This is one of the most obvious changes you can make to produce less waste in your life. Water bottles are not that expensive, and if you buy a really good one, they’ll last for years. Plus, you get to save a lot of money from not having to buy plastic water bottles every day. A great option is a glass water bottle. Unfortunately, they break easily if you’re not very careful (like me). I bought myself a stainless steel water bottle that keeps the water cold for the whole day and, though it’s fallen a couple of times, it’s in perfectly good conditions.

Cut Down on Straws

Do you really need a straw? You could just drink straight from the cup if you don’t have the necessity for a straw. Approximately 500 million straws are used each day, and a lot of them end up in the ocean or in other places where animals can hurt themselves with them. If you want or need to use a straw, you could just buy a reusable one. They’re super aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, and easy to clean.

Time for the Reusable Bag

Plastic bags are one of the cheapest plastics ever made, and because of that, they are not recycled. Do yourself and the planet a favor and buy a nice tote bag where you can carry your groceries. I suggest keeping them in your car or in your purse all the time so you don’t forget them. You could get a really simple tote bag or invest in a fun one. Also, if you didn’t know, you don’t really need to use those tiny plastic bags for the fruits and vegetables– you can just simply take the food and pay for it. If you don’t feel comfortable skipping the bags for your fruits and vegetables, you could buy some reusable produce bags.

Reusable Coffee Cups

A lot of cafés serve their coffee in actual mugs, but if you’re on the run, you normally ask for a to-go cup. You may be asking yourself, “What’s wrong with a paper cup? They’re recyclable, right?” Unfortunately, they are not as easy to recycle as we thought. They are made of a mixture of paper and plastic on the inside so we don’t burn our hands and our coffee doesn’t leak, and that prevents most of them from being recycled. You can buy a reusable cup as a solution. Most cafés won’t have a problem with you bringing it, and some of them may even include discounts!

BYO Cutlery and Plate

 Us Puerto Ricans have a tendency to use a lot of disposable plastic plates and utensils just because we don’t want to do the dishes or we don’t want tableware to “get ruined.” What we ignore is the damage we’re doing to the earth. Everywhere you buy food you get plastic plates or utensils. Most of the plastic cutlery doesn’t get recycled because that specific type of plastic is very difficult to recycle, so they just end up as waste. They are also harmful to humans! Plastic dinnerware causes all types of illnesses, like cancer or hormonal imbalances. Some solutions for avoiding using plastic dinnerware is to use the ones you have at home if you’re there. if you’re out, you could buy a foldable plate that you can take with you and some portable reusable cutlery. If you’re hosting a party, you can use some compostable options!

Bamboo Toothbrush & Waste-Free Toothpaste

A plastic toothbrush takes over 400 years to decompose: just think about how many you use in a year. Maybe you think it’s not that much, but you must think then of all the other people in the world that use them. We have toothbrushes that cause less damage, yet we continue to use the plastic ones. Toothbrushes are made from so many materials that it’s nearly impossible to recycle them, and this makes them end up in landfills and in our oceans. A more sustainable option is bamboo toothbrushes. They are made out of bamboo. Bamboo is sustainable because it grows at a very fast speed, and it’s also a type of bamboo that pandas don’t eat. On the other hand, one billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out each year, so they, too, end up polluting our world and not being recycled. To avoid this, you could buy a jar of BITE toothpaste or make your own with some simple ingredients.

It’s important to take care of our world so we can enjoy it for longer and future generations can live a good life in it. Switching out these items for more sustainable options helps the world and also our health! Happy Earth Day!

Angélica is a Comparative Literature in the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She's a wannabe writer that can be found cuddled up in her bed reading a book. Her biggest obsession is Harry Potter and anything to do with it. She has a lot of dreams for her future and hopes to work in a publishing house someday.