This pandemic has caused me to use more plastic than I’ve ever wanted. Single use plastics like gloves, masks, packaged food, plastic bags, etc have felt crucial to the well being of myself and my community. As a result, it has been hard for me to feel like the environmentalist I aspire to be. However, when I see people continue to persevere on their zero waste journey/planet-conscious lifestyle, I am reminded to focus on the things I can do today to leave the planet a little bit better and I’d encourage you to try it. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Tip #1 Refuse single use items and swap your single use items for a reusable option
This goes for anything you use once and discard: plastic water bottles, napkins, to-go cutlery, bags, masks, gloves, menstrual products, etc. Save yourself some money and help the planet by owning quality goods that can be utilized multiple times. Most of these reusable options are easy changes to your lifestyle, as you’ll likely already have these things. For example, if you plan on getting take-out, politely refuse their cutlery and straw, and use your own instead. Plus, you can keep a spare set with you so you always have a to-go set. Another example is to substitute plastic gloves for sanitizer, always have sanitizer ready then wash your hands as soon as the opportunity is available.
Tip #2 Reduce your input and output
Reducing what you consume and use is so important and easy change when it comes to being environmentally conscious. This means reducing how much you buy, reducing the amount of water you use, reducing the amount of electricity you use, etc. Buying only the essentials to help needs get met; turning off lights after you leave a room, turning off the water while you brush or wash. The same goes for reducing how much you throw away. Before you throw it away, ask yourself, “Can I reuse this in another way? Could someone else use it? Can it be recycled? Can I compost it?” If none apply, trash it but view landfills as the last resort.
Tip #3 Pick up after yourself and your pets
Natural spaces like the beach, park or wilderness areas are some of the few places we can go comfortably while in quarantine. Natural spaces and parks are currently understaffed, and are not able to be maintained like they used to, so if you plan on going to one of these spaces please remember to pick up after yourself and your pets. If you want to go the extra mile, bring that old shopping bag from the last time you went to the store and just gather trash while you explore. Then dispose of the trash you collected at the nearest trash can after your visit. The staff, wildlife and fellow nature enthusiasts would greatly appreciate it.
Tip #4 Join a Buy Nothing Facebook group
I recently found out about this and I love my little buy nothing community so much. It is very simple, it is a cashless society. You trade, borrow, or give within your local community, so it is not far. This is a great way to get in touch with your community, gift things you no longer need, and ask your community for the things you may need, you’ll never know what you’ll find or discover.
Tip #5 Try one or two meals without meat per week
Eating less meat helps reduce the strain the meat industry has on the planet. If you can go vegan that is great but if you can have a few meals without meat, that is also great! It’s healthier for you and the planet.
Bonus Tip Use your agency to vote and/or speak out against companies that don’t have earth conscious practices.
Your money supports the actions of the company you purchase from. If you don’t like their actions, but you love a product they produce, tell them. Share it with others; tell them the change you want to see. Corporations and companies need us, without our money they cannot survive, so hold them accountable and vote for policies and regulations that support the planet.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge environmentally-conscious/ zero waste lifestyle is a privilege that not everyone is able to do, it takes time, effort, education, and resources. Do the best you can and share your knowledge with others who may not have been aware. How someone responds to that information is up to them.
If there are any sustainability/ environmental tips you would like to see email me at firstname.lastname@example.org