7 Easiest Eco Friendly Alternatives For Reducing Your Impact
It’s a new year, so you know what that means… time to make resolutions like “eat healthier” and “be more active” and “live more eco friendly” and all the other things we so rarely follow through on.
We get it… resolutions are hard, especially when we set such lofty goals.
Here’s the thing: living a more eco friendly life doesn’t have to be a lofty goal. It’s a slow and steady process that can be achieved through small incremental changes over time.
There are tons of zero waste tips out there to help you in your waste-free journey. So many, in fact, that advice on how to be zero waste can often be more overwhelming than just trying.
We’re all about keeping it simple and breaking down sustainable living into the smallest, most digestible bites possible.
The following seven swaps aren’t just easy ways to reduce your waste generation, but they’re things you use almost every.single.day. Think of them as the changes that bring the “biggest bang for your buck”.
And what’s more, you can reduce the bulk of your household trash at hardly any additional cost to your day-to-day life.
Toothpaste & Floss
What’s the one you (hopefully) do every single day? Besides using that eco friendly toilet paper.
Brushing your teeth of course!
Hence why the average person uses 300 toothbrushes in their lifetime. That statistic wouldn’t be so bad if we all used biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes instead, but alas…
Speaking of oral care-oh nos, we also throw away 1 billion plastic toothpaste tubes and 3 million miles of floss every year. Pair your new bamboo brusher with some compostable floss and zero waste toothpaste, in either tablet or powder form.
Shampoo & Conditioner
You know how you can wash your body and hands with a bar of soap? You can do that to your hair, too, and it’s just as easy as liquids.
Solid shampoo and conditioner take up less space in your shower, are more travel-friendly, last longer than bottles (saving you $$$), AND won’t contribute to the 1,164 football fields we could fill with shampoo bottles annually.
Yet another part of cultivating a zero waste bathroom is making sure your garbage isn’t the only thing that stinks.
Like toothpaste, zero waste deodorants come in various forms, from paste to cubes to good ol’ familiar sticks. But instead of a nearly impossible to recycle plastic tube, these sticks consist of completely compostable cardboard.
Plus, they’re made of natural, non-aluminum formulas that won’t actually stop your body from sweating (which is a healthy self-regulatory function we shouldn’t be messing with!).
Messing with your body is the pits, while these alternatives protect them.
Beauty & Skincare
Look in your medicine cabinet. Really look… you’ll probably be amazed at how much stuff is in there you don’t even use.
While our beauty and skincare regimes can involve a multitude of products, they often don’t have to. Identify what you would consider the essentials and start developing a more zero waste skincare regime.
If you like getting glam, start upgrading the items on your vanity (as needed) with zero waste makeup. With so many sustainable beauty options out there, you no longer even have to sacrifice palette choice and creativity.
When it comes time to take it off, look for skincare products in reusable glass or tin containers. This moisturizer doubles as a makeup remover, which satisfies two essential products (again, saving you money and time because now you can combine two skincare steps into one).
Instead of cotton balls and tissues to apply, try reusable facial cloths, instead. The only added effort here is that which it takes to throw them in with the rest of your laundry.
Speaking of skincare, the most important thing you can do for your skin is protect it, so a non-nano particle sunscreen should be on your “essentials” list.
Eating & Drinking
Cutting out plastic from our grocery habits is a daunting task.
Fortunately, you can make for a more sustainable snack time by swapping out the single-use plastic involved with eating out and taking food to go.
Rather than get a styrofoam box for lunch every day, start bringing containers with you, either with food you’ve packed or carryout food you’ve ordered.
If you get something like this adorable stainless steel stacking tiffin, your lunch can even become an accessory of sorts. Don’t forget the bamboo travel utensil set to keep in your purse or briefcase at all times to avoid using plastic utensils.
And because we could all stand to stay a little more hydrated, don’t forget your eco friendly water bottle. This can save you from generating 315 plastic bottles every year (the average of US citizens)! Did we mention each of those takes about 700 years to break down?! This one is truly a no-effort no-brainer.
While this isn’t always something you do every day (or every week…), cleaning supplies can be incredibly wasteful, not to mention filled with toxic chemicals you really don’t want in your house.
By making just a couple of product swaps to more eco friendly cleaning alternatives, you’re not only investing in a safer world but a safer home.
We’re not suggesting you toss the entirety of the cabinet beneath your kitchen sink. Start by focusing on the two most frequent types of cleaning: dishes and laundry.
For zero waste dish washing, take a hint from your hair and swap your suds to a solid block. For the scrubbing power, there are tons of compostable options, like a natural loofah and coconut fiber brush (in place of plastic sponges and brushes).
As for laundry, wouldn’t you love it if you could replace those clunky plastic jugs with a few strips of paper? Spoiler alert: you can!
Laundry washing strips are a zero waste and zero space way to wash laundry. Just toss the premeasured strip in and hit spin. Who knew being more eco friendly could actually be easier for you?
Are people still using plastic bags?
According to The World Counts, they are. Five trillion of them a year, to be exact! Each one only used for an average of 12 seconds.
The crazy thing is, this is perhaps the easiest thing you can cut out. Just keep some reusable produce bags and large cotton totes in your car or purse at all times and single-handedly prevent hundreds of plastic bags from hitting the landfill.
Greenifying the physical act of shopping is the biggest step, but it’s not the only step you should consider taking. Shopping sustainably only goes so far if you’re still supporting unsustainable companies.
While there isn’t one “easy” alternative to replace our shopping needs, it’s worth taking a few seconds to start thinking about where you buy.
For everyday beauty and home essentials, support zero waste online stores (like TYB!) that not only offer low waste product solutions but ship them plastic-free, too. For clothing, read up on sustainable and ethical fashion so you know more about eco friendly fabrics and the brands who use them.
Final Thoughts on the Easiest Eco Friendly Alternatives
We know the term “zero waste” is intimidating, to say the least. Just remember it shouldn’t be taken literally.
Zero waste is simply a philosophy that reimagines our use of stuff. Rather than a linear model of consumption, it aims to make things circular.
Guess what? Making the easy bi-monthly choice to buy a shampoo bar instead of a plastic bottle is aligned with zero waste. It’s that simple.
That said, are you ready to start your zero waste journey? If you’ve decided to adopt just one of the eco friendly alternatives above, you already have!
About the Author:
This post was written by the creators at Sustainable Jungle. Sustainable Jungle encourages and galvanizes positive change. They share sustainability related ideas, tips, tricks, hacks, products, brands and stories of people & organizations doing meaningful work to future-proof our planet.
Please check out the Sustainable Jungle website for more informative and interesting posts!