I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been craving fresh air after being cooped up in the house, but I have a newfound appreciation for earth and nature. Admittedly, I grew up not caring much about the environment. The recycling my family did as a child was for cost-saving measures, not because of eco-awareness.
However, in the course of my adulthood, through my education around the environment’s impact on our health and vice versa, I’ve started to take some steps to be a better human to the Earth. I’m not completely plastic free or zero waste, nor am I aspiring to be. And though the things that I’ve done are not going to make a huge dent in carbon emissions, I do believe in the additive power of tiny little changes made by millions of people. If you’re thinking about easy ways to be more eco friendly, here are five suggestions.
Extend Your Wash Days
Here’s a hot take – if you don’t overload your hair with product in attempts to coax it into a curl pattern or straightness it doesn’t naturally have, you’ll be able to stretch out the time between washes, saving a bit of water in the process. Over the past ten years I’ve been natural, I’ve experimented with washing my hair every two weeks, every three weeks, and every week, and I have to admit, it’s healthier with its current monthly wash cycle than it was when I washed bimonthly. So cutting down the amount of times I wash my hair in a year by half saves a couple dozen gallons of water!
Limit Single Use Plastic
This is one of the easiest and most high impact ways to be more eco friendly. Rather than buy individual bottles of water that you throw out after a single use, buy a water bottle and drink tap water, or purchase a water filter. In the kitchen, replace plastic cling wrap with washable beeswax covers (I actually love these for covering half of an avocado), and swap out your ziploc bags with silicone food bags.
With cleaning products such as dish soap, hand soap, and even laundry detergent, I like to buy refills rather than new packaging. Refill packaging is often made from recycled plastic, so buying refills doesn’t create as much waste. My go to cleaning and laundry products are by Method (because they’re eco-friendly), but Grove Collaborative (which stocks Method) also has their own slightly cheaper dish, hand, and laundry soap refills.
Use a Menstrual Cup or Period Panties
Aside from the fact that most mainstream tampons, pads, and pantiliners contain unregulated chemicals (including bleach), period panties and menstrual cups contribute significantly less plastic waste to landfills than disposable feminine hygiene products.
Wary of menstrual cups? Learn more about them here.
For moms, cloth diapering is another potential way to reduce your eco footprint, as disposable diapers essentially never degrade and pile up in landfills. We use these cloth diapers and they’re easy to throw in the washing machine!
Shop For Clothing Less
The clothing industry, specifically fast fashion, is one of the biggest polluters of the environment. You can reduce your contribution by simply buying fewer clothes, and investing in pieces that will last longer. I like to do a big shopping haul at the start of each season to avoid the “I’m bored on a Saturday, let me see what’s on sale” shopping habit. This year, I’m also buying from black designers, which means I’m being a lot more intentional with my purchases. In the past, I’ve also relied heavily on renting clothes, which is a great way to reuse and recycle in a community!
Grow Your Own Food
Jonathan has been trying to convince me to garden for a while, and I recently took him up on it and planted my own indoor container hanging herb garden! While it isn’t food, growing our own herbs means we don’t have to buy packaged basil, sage, thyme, etc from the grocery store, which both reduces plastic in landfills and also cuts down on carbon emissions saved from the transportation of food to the grocery store in the first place. Many herbs are easy to grow in small pots indoors – all you need is a bright windowsill!