As Climate Week comes to an end, I would like to share some of the things I have learned over the past six months thanks to my daughter Julia and her increased involvement in preserving the environment. Not only was it a great excuse to spend time working on this article together, but we were able to collect categorized recommendations on how to alter everyday habits to better help the environment. While we are sure we have not covered everything, these tips are a great place to start.
- Use shampoo and conditioner bars. This will save on water, packaging and money since the bars last longer. Some of the manufacturer’s include Lush (they will give you a free container of a face mask if you return 5 empty face mask containers!) Human Kind, Sterling Soap Company, Skin & Company, and Naples Soap Company.
- Use Safety Razors. These razors do not rust, are cost efficient, and are not plastic, therefore can eventually be recycled.
- Dental products. You can use Bamboo toothbrushes in place of plastic toothbrushes. Tooth tabs can replace your toothpaste. Biodegradable floss is also available. If you are resourceful, you can make your own toothpaste, mouth wash, and deodorant.
- Meatless Mondays. Cutting back on meat will contribute to less water waste and decreases your carbon footprint.
- Composting companies. There are entities that will pick up your compost (for a small monthly fee) or you can drop it off at a facility. Two recommendations are Bennet Compost and Circle Compost. Typically, there are composting areas located at Farmer’s Markets.
- Buying locally sourced foods and in season foods. This is healthy because there is not as much cost and carbon expense involved. This also helps support local and often smaller businesses.
- Buy in bulk! This means that you can go to a local bulk store or Whole Foods (call ahead, not all of them have this option), whichever is more convenient. Bring your own glass container or cloth produce bag, which can be an amazing way to stop using small plastic bags. These containers can be used for cereal, vegetables, pasta, nuts, beans, etc. If you are wondering what products can come in bulk, it is basically anything that a vegan could eat… grains, oils, candy, flour, and everything else I mentioned earlier! By doing this it cuts down one use plastic packaging.
- Water bottles. Metal water bottles are always the best option, because by using a single-use plastic water bottle, you are exposing yourself to microplastics that will contaminate the water by seeping into it. They are also extremely cost efficient. The average human spends over 1000 dollars on single-use plastic bottles per year, but you can change that by buying a good quality metal bottle that will last for an extremely long time.
- Bring your own supplies. I have to admit this takes getting used to. I remember being very surprised when I watched my daughter pull out a metal teaspoon from home so I would not use a plastic spoon supplied by the local ice cream vendor. Bringing a reusable bag cuts down on needing to use a single-use plastic bag. Other states and countries charge for supplying plastic bags, which is a good deterrent. It has been nice to see stores supplies these reusable bags instead of paper or plastic bags.
- BUY GLASS/METAL. Seek out metal cans or foods stored in glass containers. By buying items in these containers, you allow them to be recycled unlike buying the same product in a plastic container that will not biodegrade.
- Earthhero is a good source for zero waste products. Like wax storage wrap, zero waste gum (it does not contain plastic and artificial ingredients like traditional gum) and bamboo or glass straws.
- Using the real stuff when you can. What I mean by this is, if you have access to silverware, glasses and plates, use them instead of plastic or paper plates. Remember, paper plates have a plastic layer to keep them from breaking down easily, hence, not making them biodegradable.
- Using public transportation or carpooling whenever possible is an obvious way to cut down on our carbon footprint.
- Keep in mind that even when we recycle, these products needs to be stored or burned somewhere and this also contributes to pollution. Frequently, this takes place in poorer neighborhoods. The goal is to have zero waste, so no one would be subject to extra pollution.
I would also like to recommend looking into joining some organizations that are helping to push these changes locally. A group started by young activists is the Sunrise Movement and Philly Thrive is working to keep the pollution down by fighting to keep the local refinery closed. Keep in mind, that any individual mindfulness is always going to be helpful, but the bigger changes need to come through industry changes, and we can be more successful as a group.