My son makes fun of me when I ask for metal straws at restaurants, or if he sees me pulling out my own from my bag - jokingly, he says the turtles are going to be just fine! He obviously needs work in this department..
I believe that we all have choices and the choices that we make everyday contributes to the environment, climate and living beings that we share this planet with. It just requires some minor changes - to start of with.
I will be the first to say that I am not a full-on eco-conscious person but I am aware of what is happening and what we are doing to our planet. As an individual I feel responsible for all the years I myself have neglected it, taken it for granted.
The saddest part is we're even killing each other with the amount of pesticides and chemicals that are put in the food that we eat. Its mind-boggling how companies are still allowed to produce and sell them even after so much is known on how detrimental these products are to us, and the planet.
Personally, I am on a journey to be more eco-friendly, sustainable and conscious. Sometimes, it's difficult to believe that one person can actually make a difference but that one person can definitely contribute to the millions of people that are on this very same journey and TOGETHER, it will certainly make a difference.
The tips listed here are simple and might be something we already do, not knowing that we are already contributing to the good practices of being more sustainable in our everyday lives.
1. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
I love my cleaning products and it used to be my belief that the more chemicals it had the better performance it would have on my counter tops, stove top, oven, floors, bathroom etc until I learnt about all the chemicals that we ingest and inhale while using them and how it ends up in our streams, oceans and waterways.
Being aware of this, I have now started using eco-friendly, biodegradable products, like Ecozone, Method and Seventh Generation and quite frankly they are equally good without the harsh chemicals. Recently I have also dabbled in creating my own cleaning products. With a base of vinegar and baking soda, you're basically half way there to creating your own home cleaner, its really simple, and safe. Pinterest is full of different concoctions which you can most definitely test out to see what suits you and your home the best.
2. Donate Unwanted Items
Every six months or so, I make it a point to clear out our things - clothes, books, shoes, even kitchenware. Items we no longer need or use. Having a 16 year old who seems to grow out of everything by the minute, we sometimes donate clothes and shoes that are barely worn. We send them to donation bins that are located around our residential area. Not only does it benefit me and my home by removing clutter but it definitely helps the environment and it also lets you help people who would get better use out of these items.
It's shocking to learn that clothing and textile that sit in landfill releases toxic greenhouse gases into the environment when they breakdown.
3. Eat Less Meat
Meat and dairy are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that the world is talking about. These emissions start from the production stage, to processing, packaging, and to finally being served.
You don't have to go straight meat-free but if everyone reduced their consumption of meat, then it would make a positive contribution in reducing GHG emissions.
4. Only Buy What You Need
When grocery shopping, I have on many occasions been guilty of buying what I don't really need. Planning ahead means less waste, every time. I shop with a list and I do stray sometimes. It's not easy sticking to a list and even I do stray (a little bit) I try and ensure that we consume everything that I buy. My pet-peeve is food waste so whatever it is, we finish everything before the next shop!
Mindful shopping is important. Put thought into what you're wishing for - is it something you really need or is it something that you want just because it's the 'in' thing. Stop and think for a minute, a day, a week, or even longer, take all the time you need. How is this item going to contribute to your life? Will you still be using and loving it 6 months from now? Do some research on it.
Being mindful simply allows us to make conscious decisions about what we already own and buy, it'll also save us money!
5. Choose Fair Trade and Organic
As much as you can, buy fair trade certified goods when shopping to support manufacturers and companies who are dedicated to sustainable production and pay their workers a fairly.
Buy organic food whenever possible; it definitely costs a bit more, but it keeps harmful pesticides out of the land and water, it protects farm workers, wildlife and most importantly, your family.
6. Say NO To Single-Use Plastic
Did you know that plastic straws can take up to 200 years to decompose - it's quite terrifying when you think of it!
If you really need straws, invest in a metal or bamboo straw that is reusable. Have a few of those and stash it everywhere - in your bag, at the office. It’s not only healthier for the environment, but it's also a cost-effective solution. If anytime, you're at a restaurant and without your own, forego the straw in your drink.
When you shop, make do without single-use water bottles and bags. Avoiding products made from or packaged in plastic can be tricky because almost everything comes in plastic but whenever possible, select unwrapped produce when grocery shopping and visit bulk stores for your detergents, grains and spices - don't forget to bring your own containers!
Beeswax paper are great alternatives to cling wrap and zip-lock bags. Not only will they keep your food fresher for longer, they are easy to wash and reusable for up to 6 months with proper care.
7. Conserve Electricity
One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable in your daily life whether at home or in the office is to reduce the consumption of energy. Turn off the lights and air conditioning when you leave the room or areas that don't need it, add dimmer switches, turn off power sockets when you leave the office or home.
In my office, wanting to reduce our electricity bill, we move everyone around so that workspace is concentrated in one area. Having made this conscious decision, we've noticed that we actually don't need half of our office area! Not only are we saving on electricity, but we're helping reduce carbon emissions!
It's never too late to start doing something good. Small steps and little changes are all it takes. Makes the right choices.