5 Simple Ways To Be Kinder To The Earth

(photo by Kyle Ellefson)

So the earth is dying and all that. And we supposedly have to save it.

I feel like being eco-friendly is one of those things we all kinda know we should be doing, but often fall short on. I know. It's hard. I feel ya. Flipping your whole lifestyle around in order to be more environmentally friendly is an overwhelming task, but don't forget that every little bit helps. Little steps matter too. It doesn't all have to be that difficult.
So I've complied some easy (and I mean really easy) ways to help make our planet a little healthier every day.
So. No excuses. 

1. Plant trees while surfing the web
Ecosia is an free online search engine that uses your searches to bring some more green into the world. They use 80% of their profits made from ad revenue and use that money to plant trees. (It takes about 44 searches to plant one tree on average.) This one is ridiculously easy to do, because I know you're already googling things daily. So make an account, set it as your default search engine, and plant some trees! It's fun to see how many you've helped plant over time.

2. Thrift
Not only is thrifting cheaper, but it's more eco-friendly than buying new clothing. There's numerous issues with the fast fashion industry, from fueling consumeristic culture, to the immense amount of air and water pollution is produces. And, let me tell ya, bleached, dyed, and chemically soaked textiles do not break down quickly in the earth. (Nor are they good for the soil.)
Fast fashion has taken our culture by storm, but the negative effect is slowly becoming detrimental.
There's a stellar documentary about not just the environmental, but socioeconomic and consumeristic effect of it as well. It's called The True Cost, check it out on Netflix!
Though it may not seem like it, thrift shopping for clothes can make a huge difference. And I gotta be honest, I have found some pretty CUTE stuff at Goodwill.

3. Consider composting 
About half the stuff we throw into the trash is actually compostable. From fruit peels to coffee grounds, eggshells to egg cartons. Instead of letting all those organic materials end up in a landfill, put them to good use! It doesn't It can be done indoors with a small container, or with a full sized garbage can in your backyard. It all depends on your specific situation. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to get started.

4.  Mind your plastic
Being that it's so cheap to produce, plastic is used in so many common household items. But it's also one of the biggest polluters. And that can make the task of reducing your plastic waste even more overwhelming. So here's some small steps you can take. Here's some plastic items you can easily replace:
- Toothbrushes. Try a bamboo toothbrush instead of the standard plastic ones. They're still disposable, but the bamboo breaks down easily in the soil. No soil pollution! 
- Plastic wrap. Plastic wrap is literally the most frustrating thing to use, I'm honestly not sure why reusable wraps haven't caught on sooner. It's the only product I can think of that everyone still uses, despite it working only half the time. But, huzzah, there's alternatives! These are made sustainably from beeswax. The warmth from your hands makes the wrap slightly sticky and, therefore, easy to use. They're reusable, but if you ever feel the need to toss them, they're biodegradable and compostable! Win win. 
- Water bottles. If you drink water on the regular, consider investing in a portable water bottle,  instead of consuming disposable plastic ones. Just make sure you get either a glass or stainless steel one. Many reusable plastic water bottles can contain BPA, or break down quickly when washed. And, it's just one more thing made with plastic.
- K-Cups. Okay, I know they're super handy, but they also generate a ton of waste, especially if you drink coffee daily. So just put your own grounds in a reusable one and drink up.
- Grocery Bags. This is probably the worst one on the list. Plastic grocery bags produce a massive amount of waste, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. The numbers on their production and waste is staggering (see chart below!) And even if you're reusing them, they still eventually end up in a landfill. So invest in a canvas tote bag to pack your groceries. Or you could try making your own bags easily from old t-shirts!  The earth will thank you. And don't just stop with the grocery bags, reusable produce bags are handy too. Or, hey, just stick the produce straight in your cart! The avocados won't mind.

And, holy moly, if those numbers don't make you feel a little nauseous....

(photo by Hermes Rivera)

5. Recycle!
Essentially, all these tips are some form of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", the infamous phrase that's been around since the seventies. It became the mantra of a generation. I mean, I remember it being pounded into my head from educational TV shows at a young age. (Anyone else remember that Magic School Bus episode about recycling?)
But it still rings true today, which is pretty cool to think about. meaningful. Reducing our waste should be first priority, cutting out things in areas that they're unnecessary. Then, what can't be reduced, we try to reuse, or upcycle, the things already around us. And, finally, we recycle. Pretty simple. And it all makes a difference.
And, somehow, that phrase doesn't seem quite as corny as it did when I was a kid.

Thanks for reading! Go hug a tree or something.


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