Unordinary ways to reduce your environmental footprint
Here are some of our tips on how you can make affordable & powerful changes for more sustainable living in the city:
1. stop using single-use items, or at least try
Look at just a few days of your life and think about all the garbage you are producing. Is there anything you can do to reduce it?
Plastic single-use items are one of the main reasons for global warming. Start by avoiding easy but harmful stuff like straws, bottles, or cutlery from a delivery take out and slowly making the change to even plastic feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes, etc. Try replacing plastics around your home with reusable alternatives.
2. reuse old items
You will be surprised at how many products you can reuse at your own home, old jars can be used as a cool glass or even a vase. Old shirts can be reused as a cloth or mop and if you are creative, you can even make them as a bag for your fruits and vegetables at the market just by tying the open edges. As for old pillowcases and old bedsheets, you do not need more than a few sets, you can easily cut them to mesh produce bags for your next supermarket visit.
If you do prefer buying a barrier to your product, take a look at this affordable option for a plastic-free alternative. The bags are transparent, and you can easily hang them on a wall in your kitchen or even bathroom, so they are efficient.
3. stop using plastic garbage bags
Instead, periodically wash and rinse your containers, or use an old blanket cover that you can easily wash in your washing machine, just make sure you are not putting any liquids inside and only dry bin waste.
These plastic bags take 10 to 20 years to decompose and damage natural ecosystems. They’re even finding plastic bags in the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest.
Thanks to the reduction of plastic single-use items, you will have a lot less to recycle, but still recycling in the city and large apartment buildings can be tricky sometimes due to the lack of a proper dumpster nearby.
Luckily, for us awareness these days is improving and most of the time you need to walk just a few minutes for a recycling bin. Make sure you keep everything in reusable big bags and just take one with you when you are leaving the house in that direction. You can also use a recycling pick up at a friend’s house or in your workplace. If you own a car, make sure to put the bag in your car when it has filled, you will drive by one on your way somewhere.
5. Ditch single-use plastic bottles
Switching to reusable bottles is one of the first things we recommend. This little shift is a perfect example of a small sustainable living step that creates a big payoff overtime for you and the planet.
According to Ecowatch “In the U.S., Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year with a dismal 23 percent recycling rate. A North American study last year found that 22 million pounds of plastic go into the waters of the Great Lakes each year”.
Making the change to reusable bottles will also save you money, 1 small bottle of water can cost up to 1.45$ which adds up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, unlike a reusable bottle that will cost more once but will stay with you for years.
Tap water is most of the time healthier for you, plastic bottles can contain many contaminants as you can read on H20Coolers “Even if your water is filtered properly, it can still contain contaminants from the plastic carrying it. Chemicals such as BPA are commonly found in plastic and can bleed into the water within the bottle. This transference leads to you consuming toxins not meant for consumption, and potentially developing various illnesses as a result”.
Take a look at these stainless steel water bottles, they come in different styles and are very useful for hot & cold beverages.
Next time you think about buying a single-use plastic bottle think again, you will save money, improve your health, and for sure help the planet.
6. clean up your cleaning products
The typical cleaning and hygiene products you will find in the local store contain many toxic substances you don't want to consume, nevertheless, they come in single-use plastic bottles which are very wasteful. You can make yours at home, save money and waste much less.
Homemade cleaning products are mostly made up of cheap ingredients you already have in your home like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Have a look at these two recipes for natural homemade all-purpose cleaning spray.
Besides, when you make them at home with natural ingredients or from a non-toxic cleaner, you can reuse the same spray bottles.
If you want to save money, while also avoiding harmful chemicals and reducing your waste: make your own inexpensive and easy household cleaners!
The same goes for your shampoo and other beauty products. If you are still choosing to buy your products, make sure you purchase only natural products that come in glass or a cardboard carton.
7. stop buying coffee
If you are living in the city, you are probably spending hundreds of dollars a year in coffee shops, most of the time just on the go using a disposable cup.
Start making your coffee at home and take it with you using a reusable mug. it will save you money and reduce plastic waste.
If you have a coffee machine at home, be sure to check out this product for a reusable coffee capsule. Every day more than 55 million capsules are thrown away after a single use.
Sitting in a coffee shop with a friend can be a fun activity, but just grabbing a coffee to-go is a waste of plastic & money. If you do go out for coffee, bring your mug and most places will discount your coffee.
8. buy second hand
Next time before buying anything ask yourself if you need it, take a look at what you already have at home. Chances are you have something you can reuse in a new way, or at least used temporarily.
If you do have to buy something, make sure you buy it second hand, these days it's very easy thanks to social media platforms like MARKETPLACE on Facebook. You can also visit second-hand stores and flea markets. On the other hand, also reducing new plastic wraps, shifts, etc. will save you money and will for sure help the planet.
9. switch your shower head
The average American uses approximately 15.8 gallons (59.8 liters) of water in one shower. Due to its wastefulness, you can easily change your showerhead to reduce the water flow to about half that amount.
Benefits are significant: by installing a low-flow water-saving showerhead, the average family can save approximately 2,900 gallons of water a year!
10. save water while washing dishes
Sticking to the water subject is one of the biggest problems these days. We waste a lot of water washing dishes.
Instead of just letting the water run when you're washing, fill up two large tubs – one for washing, and one for rinsing. As a bonus, use a bar of biodegradable soap. Then when you’re done, use the water in the bins to wash the floor or you can even use them to water your plants. Another option is to wash your fruit and vegetables in a big bucket and then use the water repeatedly.
11. wash clothes in cold water
By not heating the water in your washing machine, you may reduce your energy costs with every load. An estimated 75 to 90 percent of all the energy your washer uses goes to warming up the water, so switching to colder water can lower your gas or electric bill. Washing clothes in cold water is also better for the environment, by saving energy you will prevent carbon pollution.
12. Let's hang those curtains
window curtains - make sure to dress your windows with curtains, it will save you money and help reduce energy use during summer & winter. Curtains help retain heat in the winter, just make sure to close them after the sun goes down. Curtains also help to shade the room from the sun during the summer, which will keep the room cooler.
According to energy.gov:” About 30% of a home's heating energy is lost through windows. In the cooling seasons, about 76% of the sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters to become heat”. That will save you money on the electricity bill and add a nice touch to the room.
shower curtains - Most standard shower curtains are PVC-coated. Switch your shower curtains to non-toxic ones made from hemp or organic shower curtains, which can be easily washed, cut down on mold and those nasty gasses and they last for way longer so it will eventually save you a lot of money.
13. your light bulbs matter
Switching your bulbs in the apartment to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills and move to a more sustainable way of living.
According to energy.gov “By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $45 each year. New lighting standards took effect in 2012, and money-saving options such as halogen incandescent, CFL, and LED light bulbs are available today”. The bulbs also last up to 25 times longer and are cheaper to run than incandescent lights.
14. Reduce food waste and packing
Another easy way to save money and the earth is to try to purchase and consume less food, to begin with. According to Marketwatch “Food, plus packaging; makeup about 45% of all the materials in U.S. landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And that all adds up: Americans throw out about $165 billion worth of food every year, according to NRDC”.
Using a list while going to the supermarket and trying to plan your meals for the week will help you avoid unnecessary food purchases, as does freezing and reheating leftovers. Freezing your leftovers in transparent reusable bags will help you avoid food waste, while keeping your kitchen nicely organized. These amazing zero-waste kit has everything you need for reducing waste in your own home.
Food packing is also a big problem all over the world, with only 23% of the packing recycled. Next time try buying in bulk when possible and purchase only loose products not packed like fruits and vegetables. Also, when comparing similar items from two brands, choose the one with less packaging.
15. do you really need a straw?
Stop thinking these tiny plastic products will not affect anyone, they do! Straws are one of the most common types of single-use plastic and the cost of unnecessary plastic pollution.
People in the United States use five hundred million straws each day alone. Many types of straws cannot be recycled due to the chemicals they are made. Straws are particularly prone to ending up in our waterways, and ultimately the oceans, due to beach littering, the wind that transports lightweight objects from trashcans and trash collection facilities, and barges, boats, and aquatic transport vehicles. Most plastic straws simply break into ever-smaller particles, releasing chemicals into the soil, air, and water that are harmful to animals, plants, people, and the environment, according to aza.
If you don't want to give up on sucking straws, just make sure to use a reusable, non-plastic one from bamboo or stainless steel - it's easy to clean and you can use it for years and years to come.
16. ladies stop using single-use menstrual products
We know for a lot of women it's still not an easy task but it is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the environment in so many ways.
Let's start with some facts that will for sure blow your mind. First, it has been estimated that an average woman disposes of approximately 330 pounds of tampons, pads, and applicators in her lifetime. Unfortunately, the great majority of these products end up in landfills (where it can take over 450 years for them to decompose), or worse, as litter on our beaches or polluting our oceans.
Another fun fact in this subject, especially if saving the planet is not enough, what about protecting your health? Did you know that mainstream tampons and pads could contain up to 90% plastic, as well as other synthetic materials? Unlike food products, there is no legal obligation for menstrual product manufacturers to list ingredients on their packaging. Just think about it, do you want so much plastic and synthetics in your lady parts for so many years?
There are many alternatives out there like the menstrual cup or reusable period underwear. This may sound overwhelming in the beginning but it will change your life and getting used to it is easier than you think.
Remember, no one is perfect,
we only have two choices: do nothing or do something,
make the right choice.