As Earth Day approaches, the world collectively looks at ways we can be better stewards to this plant. But it can often feel overwhelming and make you question if your efforts really make a difference. Well, I assure you that even small, consistent change do make a difference.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, my advice is to pick one small thing and commit to it. When I decided to make sustainbility a priority for our family, I started our journey by looking at our biggest contributor to the waste in our home; single use items. Single-use items are disposable items that are intended to be used once and then thrown away–examples would be paper plates, paper napkins, plastic straws, bottled waters/drinks, etc. Before I started doing research into reducing my family’s household waste, I never realized how many single-use items were in our everyday lives!! Now that I’m aware of these things, I make an intentional effort to avoid them as much as possible. But by taking the journey one step at a time, we were able to not be overwhelmed and make lasting changes in our household’s waste output.
To help and hopefully inspire you as Earth day approaches, here are some reusable alternatives to some of the most common single-use items!
Problem: Disposable To-Go Cups!
We’re busier than ever these days, and I’m guilty of wanting to indulge in a white chocolate mocha when I’ve been feeling particularly stressed…But those paper cups typically aren’t able to be recycled as they have a plastic coating inside the paper to make it water proof that cannot be separated from the cup. That also means it isn’t biodegradable either. Suddenly my white mocha isn’t tasting so sweet…
Solution: Bring your own reusable coffee cup to your favorite coffee shop!
Did you know that many coffee shops will make your drink in your own travel cup? Next time you go to your favorite coffee shop, like my favorite–Brickhouse Coffee Co in Greenwood, ask your barista if they’ll make your drink in your reusable cup instead of the paper cups they have. Some places will even offer you a small discount for doing so! Many coffee shops sell their own branded travel cups, but you can easily find the perfect option to fit your style and budget anywhere! Here’s a great double-walled glass tumbler I’d recommend!
Plastic Straws Suck in More Ways Than One!
Problem: Plastic Straws are everywhere.
Going that same route, another single-use item that we often don’t think much of is the humble plastic drinking straw.
Any restaurant we take our kids to is going to give us a disposable cup with a lid and straw…I recommend always having a cup for your kiddo if they aren’t coordinated enough to use a cup without a lid. It’s something you likely already carry around too! I still get my child a drink (usually milk because it’s his favorite) but I ask for it in a regular cup and let the waiter/waitress know that we’ll be using our own cup.
As adults, in many cases, we really do not need to use a straw at all. If, like me, you have teeth sensitivity or health reasons that drinking from a straw is easier for you, there are some great alternatives out there that are reusable! If you’re one of the people who can go without using a straw, I encourage you to do so!
Solution: Say NO to plastic straws OR use a reusable straw!
Either stop using straws entirely or use a glass, stainless steel, or silicone straw instead! I have these and love that they are soft and flexible. They are great for anyone who has children! So when you’re out at a restaurant or even at home, say no to the plastic straws!
Cut Out the Cutlery!
Problem: Disposable forks, spoons, knives!
Another example of something we probably use without thinking is plastic utensils! When eating out, fast food places often give you plastic utensils without even having to ask. But if you’re eating something with a utensil, you can easily use your own utensil’s instead!
Solution: Bring your own cutlery!
Consider bringing your own reusable utensil set with you regularly! Keep it in your purse, in your briefcase or backpack, in the car, in your office, etc.–where ever is most convenient for you! You can easily put your own set together as well using bamboo or metal utensils, or purchase a ready to go set in it’s own travel case like this one!
Bonus points: Add Reusable Napkins!
Adding your own reusable napkin to your travel cutlery set can also help reduce waste created by using paper napkins or paper towels.
These are just a few ideas, and they are simple, easy places to start reducing our impact on the earth! If you’re not sure these would work for you, do some research and pick the starting point that is right for you and your family!
Which tip are you going to try this week?