Use Re-Useable Bags and Straws
We all have too many of those tote bags that seem to get given away for free at every event I have been at recently. Use them for all your shopping instead of getting plastic bags! If you truly don’t have extra tote bags just lying around, ok, I guess, buy a cheap fabric one. I love when store clerks start beaming when I tell them I brought my own bag. One guy told me he was in love with me for bringing my own bag for my groceries (wow). Who knew being eco-friendly would make perfect strangers fall in love with you?! Bonus.
We all saw the videos of sea turtles dying and bleeding with plastic straws caught in their noses and throats and, if you didn’t see them, don’t … unless you want to be really sad. “I want to be really sad!” said pretty much no one, ever. In addition to being problematic for sea life, plastic straws are problematic for us because, again, they contribute to plastic pollution that is killing us off, or at least making it hard for the guys to procreate and giving the gals increased breast cancer risk. You don’t want to shoot blanks or die of breast cancer, right? Just say no to straws or, if you must have them, get your own! Corkcicle has really cool stainless steel straws (only $5 for 2 at www.corkcicle.com). No, they do not pay me to say that and I won't get anything if you buy a straw from them.
Grocery Shopping Tips
Again, bring your own cloth (not plastic) bags. It does require some pre-thought but you’re smart and you can do it. It just takes making it a routine to get into doing it consistently. Some stores, like Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Target, and more will actually PAY YOU when you bring your own bag in the form of discounts or other benefits. See more details on that here. YES! Money in your pocket for saving the planet! You're such a (well compensated) super hero!
Bring cloth napkins or dishtowels, as well, to wrap veggies in, instead of using those plastic bags in the produce section. This is actually healthier for you and better for your produce since plastic bags increase bad humidity, lower aeration and speed up spoilage.
A tip: keep those re-useable bags and cloths clean. Just remember to throw them in the washing machine when you do your regular laundry. Easy breezy.
Once your veggies are at home, keep them wrapped gently in the cloth napkins or dish towels and don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them (to make them stay fresher longer). Always buy organic (better for you because it won’t give you cancer from the toxic pesticides and herbicides used for conventionally grown produce. . Growing organic helps increase our soil, air and water quality and it's obviously way healthier for you. However, because I know sometimes organic is impossible, price-wise, a way you can at least reduce pesticides on the exterior of fruits and veggies when you just don’t have enough $$ to buy organic is to soak them in a mixture of salt, hot water and baking powder. For mushrooms, just dunk them in the mixture and rinse them quickly because mushrooms absorb everything really fast and it won’t be yummy to eat salty, baking powder-y mushrooms.
I also really like re-useable glass “Tupperware” instead of plastic and glass bottles for carrying around my beverages instead of plastic bottles (better for my own health; better for the planet). Links to some examples of good glassware you can order are below the text of this post.
Diapers & Bottles
Hey Moms and Dads! According to the Clean Air Council, Americans throw away 49 million diapers per day, accounting for two + percent of all garbage generated in the U.S., making diapers are one of the largest contributors to landfills. Don’t fret! It’s possible to reduce this landfill conundrum.
You actually have a number of options. My personal favorite are these brightly colored re-useable cloth diapers from Target for the baby with the heightened sartorial sense (click here). There are multiple other options though, from the re-useable cloth diapers to the admittedly not-as-good-but-still-something disposable diapers that are at least biodegradable (see a list of them here) to, if you have that oh-so-nice extra disposable income, services that will do it all for you, like this one I just randomly googled but have never used (just google eco friendly diaper services in your geographic region and then read the BBB, etc., reviews of the business to make sure it is legit before using).
On bottles, again, this is more about the health of your baby than just ditching plastic, but every time you heat that plastic bottle up, the plastic is degrading and your kiddo is swallowing some and it’s not a good thing. Go glass. LifeFactory has terrific glass baby bottles in thick, cushiony sleeves (a little plastic for the cushion; well, nobody’s perfect) to prevent breakage if excited baby tosses them or tired parent drops them. You can google them, buy them in baby supply stores or, if all else fails, use my easy link to order them online, below the text of this blog post.
Doggie Doo Bags & Wee Pads
Don’t pick up after your dog – JUST KIDDING!!!! Ok, for dogs, we have two issues: (1) wee pads and (2) poo bags.
Ideally, your dog will only relieve herself or himself outside but, if you have a puppy you’re training, an older dog who has incontinence issues or just a dog you want to have an emergency option just-in-case for, re-useable, washable pads are there for you!
I use PoochPads for my dog and they are AWESOME. Really. I highly recommend. They’re not bad looking and they’re super absorbent and easy to spot clean (or just throw them in the washing machine – please, if your dog does a doo instead of a pee, scoop it up with toilet paper and flush it. Do not put THAT in your washing machine). You can find lots of other brands of re-useable wee pads, too. Just ask for recommendations at your local pet supply store.
Doggie Doo Bags
There ARE eco-friendly biodegradable bags but be CAREFUL because a lot of the advertising on poo bags are very misleading and the bag you think is all earth friendly, well, isn’t. Rover has a great article on this here that every dog parent should read. This also lists the “good” bags (like Biobag, Flush Puppies and BioDOGradable, which I have links to below the text of this blog post if you can’t find them at your local pet supply store).
For those of you who are just superstars, this is a quote from the above-referenced Rover article:
- Use a dog-waste-only composting bin. There are several commercial options like the Doggie Doolie on the market, but you can also make your own with supplies available at your local home and garden store. While pet waste compost should never be used on edible plants, it can be great fertilizer for decorative gardens!
- Flush it. Yes, depending on where you live, you can flush dog poop in water-soluble waste bags. Just be sure to check with your municipal sewage guidelines, and never flush pet waste into a septic tank.
- Bury it. This option works best if you live in a rural area with space away from the house. Waste should be buried at least five inches underground, away from vegetable gardens and water sources.
- Transport it to an industrial composting facility that accepts pet waste, or hire a waste removal company that does the dirty work for you (for example: Portland’s Green Pet Compost Company).
No Bottled Water
At least not plastic bottles. For a whole blog post on why plastic bottled water is truly awful for you and what water is awesome for you, click here: http://jenniferbetityen.weebly.com/ethical-is-beautiful-be-beautiful-a-blog/whats-in-the-water
Try not to use them. Chances are, you have a stash of plastic bags somewhere in your home from past shopping trips (before you read this blog, of course, right?). Re-use those as trash bags when you simply must. Or use biodegradable, earth-friendly bags (links to some examples below the text of this blog post).
COMPOST and RECYCLE! Even in large cities, there are compost stations. Likewise, even in rural areas, there are recycling stations. Just ask your city government offices or google it by city. A quick and dirty guide (no pun intended) was created by another blogger on this topic here.