For most people, the idea of being eco-friendly is extremely daunting because they associate this lifestyle with expensive and time-consuming changes.
However, you don’t need to purchase a Tesla, install solar panels or embrace a zero waste lifestyle to be eco-friendly.
Being eco-friendly means implementing any changes that will positively impact the environment. Those shifts can be as simple and inexpensive as reducing your plastic consumption, buying reusable products and upcycling. Plus, being eco-friendly can save you money.
Sometimes it’s the smallest change that makes the biggest difference. So, here are eight inexpensive ways to start embracing eco-friendly habits and understand the impact your daily decisions have on the environment.
1. Reusable Water Bottles
Each year Americans buy up to 50 billion plastic water bottles, and only 23% of that plastic gets recycled. This waste amounts to 38 billion water bottles. That’s more than $1 billion worth of plastic, according to Ban the Bottle, an organization committed to banning single-use plastic water bottles.
The best way to ensure you don’t contribute to this disaster is to invest in a reusable bottle. Made from metal or glass, you can buy one for under $20.
These containers can keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours and warm for around 12 hours. You can fill them with anything from water and juice to coffee or tea. They’re also durable and convenient to have when you’re on the go. The best part: all the money you’ll save when you stop buying water bottles.
2. Reusable Straws
With several cities banning plastic straws, and businesses such as Starbucks and American Airlines promising to no longer offer plastic straws, they’re slowly becoming obsolete. For those who still enjoy drinking with a straw, reusable ones are a great alternative.
You can purchase a set of glass, metal, paper, silicone, or bamboo straws for between $8 and $15. Coming in a pack of two or more, you can pick between straight or bent straws. They also come in various widths, so you can find a straw that’s perfect for boba tea and smoothies.
If you decide to purchase more than one, you can keep one at work, in your bag, and wherever you visit the most. These straws are designed to last a while and won’t have to be replaced often.
3. Reusable Totes
Throughout the U.S., several states are either banning single-use plastic bags or charging a fee for using them in an attempt to decrease plastic consumption. This attitude is becoming the norm, and several stores are replacing plastic bags with paper or tote bags. You can join this movement by bringing tote bags the next time you go shopping.
Unlike plastic bags, totes are strong, don’t break easily and can carry twice as much weight. Depending on the size you want, you can get a small or medium tote for under $15.
You can also reuse these products anyway you want. They can serve as a carry-on, laptop case or lunch bag. Because some of them are made from machine-washable materials, you have the option to wash them when they get dirty.
4. Reusable Snack/Sandwich Bags
When you’re preparing for the day, the last thing you might think about is relying on an eco-friendly container for your snacks. That’s totally normal, but you can change that mindset by replacing your plastic snack bags and containers with reusable ones.
Costing between $10 to $20 for a pack of three or four bags, these reusable snack bags can hold a multitude of foods such as cookies, crackers, veggie sticks and sandwiches. These containers are normally made from machine-washable materials or recyclable products. They’re great to bring with you when you have a long day ahead because they allow for an easy clean-up.
Also, you can reuse them several times before they need to be washed. These snack bags come in various colors and sizes, so you can find the perfect bag to fit your style and needs.
5. Reusable Travel Utensils
Next time you bring a meal with you, instead of reaching for the plastic cutlery, you can pack a travel set of bamboo utensils. Bamboo is biodegradable, which means it will decompose without causing harm to the environment.
For less than $15, you can find a set of bamboo utensils that are easy to wash by hand. They’re also lightweight and easy to carry around, so you can bring them with you wherever you go. Some are even heat and stain-resistant, and you can use them several times before you need to buy a new set.
6. Walk Instead of Drive
When it comes to driving or walking, most people will choose to drive. Driving is convenient and time-efficient, but it’s not great for the environment.
Whenever you drive a vehicle, you emit carbon dioxide [CO2]. Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases that is responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere. The main activity that emits carbon dioxide is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil for energy and transportation.
So, whenever you can you should walk. By deciding to walk, you’re reducing your carbon footprint because you’re not burning gas. Walking will also save you money because you won’t need to refill your gas tank as often. Plus, it has amazing health benefits for your body and mind.
Depending on the material, clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose, while shoes take as long as 1,000 years. These clothes can release gases like methane, which is a greenhouse gas. The materials are made with dyes and chemicals that can contaminate soil and groundwater.
Instead of throwing away items you no longer wear, you can donate them to a local shelter, church or charity. If the clothes are brand new or lightly worn, you can give them a new home. There are so many people who could benefit from your clothes and shoes.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to limit yourself to donating only clothes and shoes. You can also donate blankets, bedding, bags and books.
If you have items that are broken or torn and can’t be donated, you can upcycle them. Upcycling is when you recycle something in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item, according to Merriam Webster.
Upcycling gives you the chance to be creative. If you have an old pair of jeans that can’t be repaired, you can turn them into shorts, a makeup bag or create patches for another pair of jeans.
Just because something is broken doesn’t mean you can’t fix it and transform it into something completely different. You can even upcycle waste such as empty jars, lotion bottles and candles, giving them an entirely new life. The best aspect of upcycling is that the possibilities are endless.
Being eco-friendly is a lot easier than you think. All you have to do is make small changes to your lifestyle. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a difference.
Once you make these changes, they’ll become habits you can share with your friends and family. The more people who embrace eco-friendly living, the better our planet will be.
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