‘Eco-friendly’ is a popular phrase these days. And that’s a great thing. I, personally, have been experiencing major eco guilt. At the start of 2018, I started rethinking my carbon footprint because I wanted to do better. I started to examine areas where I could make a change that would be attainable and sustainable.
The one thing I found in going eco-friendly is that there’s a mutual benefit that happens to yourself and the planet. I’ve been trying to be mindful of what I eat and what I put into my body (I’m looking at you forever chemicals). So when I started this eco-friendly journey, I started to find out that my health goals were overlapping with the eco-friendly implementations. I was not only doing good for the planet, but for myself. And, as an extra bonus, my wallet. Saving money never hurts, right?
Here are five easy ways you can start going eco-friendly that won’t break the bank and will actually coincide with that healthy lifestyle resolution that you made in 2020.
Water is a necessity. Buying plastic water bottles when you have access to eco-friendlier options is not. You can find reusable water bottles at whatever price point makes sense for you. I personally use the Hidrate Spark 2.0 because I am horrible at drinking water and wanted to be able to track my water consumption. The downside of this bottle is that there is no recycling program (I emailed them to confirm) but when my sensor dies out, I intend to continue to use the bottle without the sensor stick.
There’s a compromise to everything. If you have a plastic bottle lying around, don’t throw it away for an eco-friendlier one. You can use it up until it’s no longer usable.
Nowadays there are more and more water refilling stations that make using a reusable water bottle easier. So do what you can. There are also options for those who need to buy individually packaged water. More and more companies are popping up that are trying to create sustainable options like Just Water and Jason Momoa’s newly launched brand, Mananalu Pure Water. Unfortunately, these options also run on the pricier side, so they might not be an acceptable option for some. Don’t worry: If you have to buy plastic water bottles, you can still be eco-friendly by putting them in the recycle bin. It’s the thought that counts.
I’m not sure about you, but I spend a few hours a week at the grocery store buying food for the week. The grocery store can cause major guilt when you see all the plastic-wrapped food options surrounding you that you can’t avoid. So you have to work with what you got. One thing I’ve implemented on my weekly grocery runs is making sure I keep reusable shopping bags in my car at all times. It’s the one step you can make that will save you from bringing home more one-use plastic bags. Try that as a first step. Easy peasy, right?
Oh, and if you forget the reusable bags, don’t fret; just try to do better next time. Remember to be easy on yourself. You can’t change overnight.
This is a great double whammy. If you meal prep your food and lean toward cooking at home, you’re not only going to save money, improve your eating habits, but wait for it…you’re probably also going to be eco-friendlier as a byproduct. Buying food on your lunch break means you’re buying extra waste in the form of plastic containers and food-soiled wrappers that aren’t recyclable. And think of the unhealthy options you are more likely to buy that will affect your waistline. Even implementing meal prep a couple of days of the week can be a great start.
And if you have a mountain of plastic Tupperware, don’t throw them away! Use them up til they’re no good and then buy eco-friendlier options. I highly recommend Glasslock containers. They come in a variety of sizes and will have a long-lasting reusable life and lock in the food, including soups. It’s a win-win! Buy reusable containers that make sense for you.
Stasher is another great brand that can replace your plastic baggies used for sandwiches, nuts, etc. And they are freezable, microwave-safe, oven-safe and can even be boiled, which makes them more versatile than plastic baggies in the long run. The initial price point of these might seem too hefty, but when you think of all the uses you’ll get out of them and reusable life, you’ll end up saving money over time. But nonetheless, the price point may not be feasible upfront and you can try and reuse the plastic baggies for a few more times before tossing out.
There are also a lot of options for silicone-based reusable baggies that might be more affordable. I’ve only used Stasher so I know they work really well and can highly recommend.
Make Your Coffee or Tea at Home
Love picking up Starbucks on your way to work? How about swapping out a few of those vanilla lattes for a home-brewed coffee or tea? You can save on the waste and sugar — and your bank account will thank you. I used to drink a lot of Starbucks, but it wasn’t sustainable — health- and money-wise.
Unfortunately, while I bought Starbucks, I also owned a Keurig. I started feeling the guilt over the pods. Yes, I bought the reusable pod, which is a great option for those of you who have a machine. But then I realized that maybe I shouldn’t have my coffee hitting all these plastic parts in the machine for my health’s sake. So as it aged out, I switched over to a French press and water kettle for my morning cup of joe routine. Less waste, less guilt and better for my health.
The same can go for your tea habit. Investing in a reusable tea sifter can be both beneficial to the environment and yourself. Did you know that some tea bags are made of plastic? That can’t be good and can be something to think about.
And whether you’re a coffee or tea drinker, the routine of getting up and making your morning brew is also a great mental health booster. If you have to make your own coffee, you’ll have to make sure to wake up a little earlier to treat yourself. Waking up earlier and enjoying your coffee at home will help you start the day off right and be more mindful instead of rushing out the door in a haze.
And if you’re in a rush, consider investing in a reusable coffee tumbler. Starbucks allows you to use a reusable coffee tumbler and even discounts your purchase if you do. So if you’re not quite able to kick your habit, at least you can avoid the waste of a one-time-use coffee cup.
Utilize What You Have in New Ways
When I started looking up all the ways to go eco-friendly, I started making a wish list of all the things I needed to buy to make a sustainable home. I was lucky that I stumbled upon articles that said that would be one of the biggest mistakes that I could make in starting my eco-friendly journey. Throwing away plastic that is still usable doesn’t do you and the earth any good. I am still phasing out plastic that I have at home. I try to find uses for them when they start getting older and eventually try to recycle them the best way I can.
I’ve also started to recycle glass jars or cans that come with some of my food purchases. You can use them in new ways, like around the house or for plants. I’ve been able to recycle jars in my craft room for holding pencils, markers, etc. But the possibilities are endless! You already paid for the items, so you might as well get further use out of them.
I hope these five easy ways can help you get started on going eco-friendly. It’s not only beneficial to the planet but also to your health and wallet. And remember, do what you can for where you are at right now. It’s the thought that counts on wanting to do better that will make a world of difference.
Let me know in what ways you’re going eco-friendly. I’d love to hear your suggestions! And stay tuned for more ways you can go eco-friendly. Tweet me at @thingscatloves.
Catherine grew up watching action flicks at a very young age which led to her love of film. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelors in Radio-TV-Film in 2012. Always the adventurer, Catherine traveled and lived in Sydney, Australia for a year where she took a selfie with Brad Pitt. She runs Shuffle with passion, lots of caffeine and tacos. When she’s not editing or writing you can find her crafting and planning her next adventure.