I have become hyper aware of my impact on the environment.
This awareness was born from my love of nature and has taken years to cultivate and put into practice.
My transition away from consumables remains a process, and I am always figuring out where I can do better. Sometimes the effort feels futile, as I’m sure many of you can relate, but alas I persist.
I am also still figuring out the best method for sharing my tiny acts of environmentalism without coming off as preachy – balancing sensitivity with an edge of vigilance, you know? Last fall I designed a pin showcasing earth as “Home Sweet Home” as a little love letter to our planet, and subtle reminder that we are all inhabitants of this one orb. That perspective seems to help the cause, as does my uncrushable optimism.
Today the goal is merely to talk a bit about trash.
Back when I realized that I was creating far more waste than was necessary, I began to spend my dollars on more permanent solutions in place of convenient consumables.
Therein lies a catch, however.
Not only do many of these switches eliminate the convenience factor, they also add a bit more work in the way of planning and execution. In some cases, there is also an initial financial investment that can be a deterrent from the seemingly more “affordable” options, but you have to think longterm.Becoming more conscious is all about baby steps. Click To Tweet
Some of these are no-brainers, but if you start to pay attention to your choices you may realize that you’re not making even the most simple switches. For a long time I wasn’t. Blame convenience!
Here are some of my favorite conscious alternatives that eliminate unnecessary waste and consumption:
Consumable: Plastic Straws
Conscious: Glass or Stainless Steel
I have both glass and stainless steel straws in my kitchen, and love them both for different reasons. The glass straws tend to be wider, which is great for thick smoothies, and the steel ones are more sturdy and thin.
Consumable: Plastic Water Bottles
Conscious: Copper Water Bottle, Mason Jars
I get asked about my copper water bottle every time I use it (check out the link for its benefits), and my supply of mason jars is comically expansive. I have jars in all shapes and sizes, and use them for far more than toting water. They’re one of the greatest storage containers around.
Consumable: Plastic Grocery Bags
Everyone has tote bags, but not everyone remembers to use them. Even if I’m not going to a store that advocates their use (which in my part of the world is only Whole Foods), I try to utilize them as much as possible.
Consumable: Plastic Produce + Bulk Bags
Conscious: Reusable Bags
Stop tearing off those long green plastic sleeves from the giant rolls throughout the grocery store and start stuffing your totes full of these bags. They are another item I get asked about all the time when I’m in the produce section, and I am happy to share.
Consumable: Dryer Sheets
Conscious: Wool Dryer Ball
I was gifted with one of these last summer and it blew my mind. Just a raw ball of wool could replace boxes of dryer sheets? Yes! And it does an amazing job.
Consumable: Plastic Tupperware
Conscious: Glass Tupperware, Mason Jars
I no longer eat or drink from plastic. I have eliminated it from my kitchen and haven’t looked back. Investing in glass Tupperware has meant no more tomato-sauce-stained or warped-from-the-microwave* situations, and far more peace of mind. And again, mason jars are my go-to storage containers for nearly everything in my pantry.
(*I don’t have a microwave anymore either.)
I admit I used a Keurig for a long time. In addition to the one-time-use pods I also used the reusable basket, but got wary of using a device that heats water in plastic*. Then I fell in love with my Chemex, and never looked back.
(*I now use a glass kettle to boil all of my water.)
Consumable: Tossing Organic Food Waste
Conscious: Composting, with Compostable Bags
I have been composting for so long that I have a hard time comprehending other kitchens where bananas peels, coffee grounds, corn shucks, and the like just end up in the trash. It is so easy to do (I keep a steel bucket under my sink for collecting) that it’s truly a no-brainer, and so important.
It’s a common misconception that organic waste will break down wherever it’s discarded, even if it’s in a trash bag in a landfill, but that’s not true:
When our organic waste goes into landfills (via our trash bins), it sits under piles of trash indefinitely. This effectively creates a vacuum and the organic waste breaks down without oxygen. When food breaks down like this (anaerobically) , it creates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 23x more environmentally damaging than CO2!
You can read more about this here.
Consumable: Single Servings
Conscious: Buy in Bulk
With packaging being so out of control these days, this one can be particularly tough. Individually wrapped is a no-no, and so is a bag within a box. The reusable mesh bags I mentioned above also work great for anything in the bulk section, which is where I buy all my nuts, seeds, grains, and more.
Consumable: Plastic Cutlery, Plates, and Cups
Conscious: Use the real thing and then wash it
This is one of those elbow-grease situations that is an unpleasant side effect of hosting consciously, but far friendlier than tossing loads of one-time-use plastic away.
Consumable: Disposable Shaving Razors
Conscious: Let it Grow 🙂 or only use Disposable Heads
I did not realize just how awful disposable razors are for the environment, specifically the single use kinds where you have to throw the whole thing away. I haven’t used those in a very long time, but now I am extra aware of consumables like this that normally don’t even enter my consciousness as detrimental to the environment.
And there’s the big takeaway – my heightened awareness has led to me question everything that seems so “normal,” and investigate more earth friendly options.
Here’s to collectively working to be more conscious!
For even more ideas and inspiration, Trash is for Tossers is a great place to explore.
[I am not being compensated for mentioning these products,
but this post does contain affiliate links.]