Opinion

Small Steps to Take Towards Environmental Living

With the daunting news broadcasts claiming Earth’s expiration date, it only seems appropriate to panic. We may be far from solving the so-called climate crisis, but if each of us takes small steps toward a more eco-conscious way of living, we might have a chance to lift some of the overbearing weight for which we are asking the Earth to compensate. In 2020, I urge you to make a few changes in your daily routine. You may already be doing great. You may have your reusable water bottle, to-go coffee mug and reusable shopping bags ready at all times. However, you may be wondering what else you can do. Here are some small New Year’s resolutions to move toward conscious living.

  1. Change your wasteful kitchen habits!

The average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags every year. Did you know that plastic Ziploc bags can be reused up to two times? If you wash them out after use with gentle soap and dry them, then you reuse them for your sandwiches, chips or favorite fruits. Did you also know that Ziplocs can be recycled? Because they are made of film plastic, like shopping bags, they can be recycled at most grocery stores in the “Bag Recycling” Bin. The next time you make a Walmart run, bring along your clean, old Ziplocs and throw them in the bin. It is a great and easy way to stretch out that last box of Ziplocs that you have in your kitchen drawer.

If you have worked through your last box of Ziploc baggies, then it might be time to REPLACE them with glass or plastic reusable containers. Avoid crowding landfills with your 500 Ziplocs each year and invest in a money-saving and environment-saving option. Next time you need to save those last slices of green pepper, toss them in a small glass container that can be washed and reused. I always urge people to use what they have until that cannot anymore. Mason jars make for great food storage as well. If you are concerned with saving fridge space—the reason why Ziplocs are ideal—you can invest in reusable sandwich bags. There are silicone options (Stashers©), cloth options (Langsprit©, Yummi©), burlap options (HeyHome©) and more.

2. Change up your coffee routine!

PSA to Keurig owners: K-Cups go straight to landfills. According to The Story of Stuff.org, the number of trashed K-Cups “could wrap around the planet 10 times.” Not only are K-Cups horrible for the environment, but they are expensive. However, the alternatives are just as good as K-Cups. Refillable K-Cups are a great alternative that will save you some money and make you feel good while doing it! They are about $4 or $5 at Walmart or on Amazon. They are plastic, but they are reusable.

For coffee-drinkers who brew a little differently, are you tired of buying and tossing filters? You can buy a reusable coffee filter. There are metal filter options for all sorts of coffee makers: AeroPresse, Chemex and even your traditional kitchen coffee maker. They can be easily cleaned and you can just as easily compost the coffee grounds!

For coffee-lovers who want to ditch the traditional coffee maker for a cleaner and easier brewing method, get a French press. While a drip coffee maker with paper filters is still a MUCH better alternative to Keurigs, a French press is even better because it does not require a paper filter. Plus, it makes you feel fancy (which is what we really like).

For the coffee-drinkers who just prefer someone else to make it entirely, bring your own thermos or ask for your drink in a mug. Starbucks and Pour Jon’s even give discounts for bringing your own mug! If you like cold coffee, bring a mason jar. Make it a habit to keep a reusable mug/jar/straw in your car so you don’t forget it!

  1. Change the way you hear about the most recent environmental news!

With all the environmental laws that the current administration are hijacking, plus all the environmental issues that the presidential candidates are discussing, it is hard to keep up with everything. Check out the Environmental News Network. It will give you the top news of the day regarding climate, energy, ecosystems, pollution, agriculture and more. It even has an app if you want to get daily notifications. In addition, news sources like BBC, NBC, The New York Times and others have an Environment section on their websites to check out.

These small resolutions are difficult to start and sustain, but the earth doesn’t need one person doing this perfectly. Rather, it needs several people doing this imperfectly. Please email me with your ideas regarding environmental living for future articles!