Don’t worry if solar panels and composting toilets aren’t in your long-term plan. Reducing your impact on the planet doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. It can simply be the culmination of daily lifestyle choices and the use of a few green products.
The five suggestions below are not new ideas, but gentle reminders that using them can make a real, tangible difference in your daily footprint on this planet we call home.
Reusable Coffee Mugs
Toting your own drink tumbler to your favorite coffee shop will not only keep cups out of landfills (did you know that most paper cups are lined with petroleum-based products, so they aren’t biodegradable?), but it will likely keep your favorite drink hot longer—and holding it won’t scorch your hands. Consider treating yourself to a great-looking, high-quality reusable mug that’s a pleasure to sip from and lasts a long time.
Rechargeable batteries can be used up to one thousand times, so switching will save you money over time and ensure fewer batteries make it to the dump. Consider having a dedicated battery-charging station in your house to encourage recharging. All batteries—including rechargeable varieties—can leak heavy metals into landfills and should be recycled properly. Many municipalities, as well as several big-box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, have battery recycling programs.
Switching to cotton or linen napkins will not only save energy and reduce pollution; it will make your meals feel more special—and your child’s too if placed in a lunch box. Consider buying a few dozen so you always have a stack in the kitchen ready to go. Then just add the soiled napkins to the dirty laundry.
Reusable Shopping Bags
The trick to reusable shopping bags is having them on hand whenever you need them. Quick stops on the way home from work or impulse buys can catch you off guard—and bag-less. The solution? Each time you’ve unpacked your groceries at home, return your bags to the car, or hang them on the front door handle to your house so that you’re reminded to take them to the car the next time you leave. Considering that the Earth Policy Institute estimates US consumers use about one bag per day, one year of using reusable bags could keep a whole lot of plastic from reaching landfills.
Reusable Water Bottles
It’s become commonplace to see everyone from celebrities to preschoolers toting around a water bottle—the body needs to stay hydrated. As with reusable coffee mugs, opting for a reusable water bottle means you’ll produce less environmental waste, but it also might encourage you to drink more water. For example, insulated bottles keep water cooler; ones designed with straws make drinking more fun; and there are even versions like Acquablend, with a filter compartment on the inside for you to add flavorful fruits and vegetables. Drink up!