Ever since the young Climate Warriors came to the U.N. last month, I have put in a concerted effort to minimize my own impact on the environment. With all that is going on in the world, nothing, absolutely nothing is more critical than getting our arms around the climate crisis.
Often, we look towards government and industry to spearhead changes instead of focusing on our own personal responsibility. What decisions do we make daily to reduce waste, minimize chemical exposure and to overall be more gentle on our Mother?
Here is a list of 16 things that I do to try to minimize my own carbon footprint:
1. I do not eat animals. Industrial farming is a leading cause of deforestation, uses insane amounts of water per pound of meat produced and cattle produce the green house gas methane which adversely effects our environment at a rate that is 23X worse than CO2. Taking a week off from eating beef, is the equivalent of not driving your car for 3 months. Think about that, then choose accordingly.
2. I use a refillable water bottle. I prefer glass or metal because they are recyclable at the end of their lifecycle and remove the chance of ingesting micro-plastic. Also, when I go for coffee, I bring a thermos or simply enjoy my coffee in house and use a real cup!
3. I use re-usable shopping and produce bags. If I forget my bags (rarely) I try to simply carry my purchase be hand or carry it in my yoga bag or purse. I'm new to produce bags, but they are great; just make sure that they are natural fiber so that if/when they wear out, they are biodegradable.
4. I use cloth napkins and NO paper towels. This is self-explanatory but in addition to saving trees, you save money! And how luxurious is it to use a cloth napkin? Instead of paper towels, I use rags and dish towels. A very easy swap....
5. My toilet paper is made 100% from recycled paper and is not wrapped in plastic. I order it online from Who Gives a Crap. And yes, it is soft and the rolls are long-lasting. Bonus: 50% of their profits go towards projects that bring toilets to rural parts of developing countries which is vital in reducing disease.
6. My toothbrush is Bamboo. My electric toothbrush died after many, many years and I have replaced it with one made of bamboo instead of plastic. Because bamboo is a grass, it replenishes quickly and of course if biodegradable! I also prefer the mouth feel to those made of plastic.
7. I ditched cotton rounds and use washable bamboo rounds instead. Conventional cotton production is very hard on our planet and not to mention most cotton rounds come wrapped in plastic. I purchase bamboo rounds instead and they are just as good for removing eye make-up. They are essentially little, round washcloths.
8. I make my own deodorant and it works great. Here's the recipe: 1 part cornstarch, 1 part baking soda. Mix. Add coconut oil until creamy. Add lavender essential oil to kill bacteria and add scent. Peppermint is a good alternative if you don't like lavender.
9. I buy local and/or organic produce. Organic is better for the soil and reduces chemical exposure and local reduces carbon footprint.
10. My yoga mat is rubber and I've had it for 10 years and counting. My mat is by Manduka and is the Pro model. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. Bonus: they will recycle your old mat.
11. Most of my clothes are made of natural fiber. I donate most of my clothes if I no longer want them or if they are too worn or have been attacked by my dog, I take them to H&M where they can be recycled. Whenever their lifespan ends, because they are natural, they are more likely to biodegrade. Not to mention that a lot of "performance wear" is made of some form. of plastic that leaves microfibers in our waterways, air and our bodies!
12. I use oil on my skin instead of cream. Oils are great when they are plant-based. They are loaded with antioxidants that slow the aging process and are easy to find packaged in glass instead of plastic.
13. I have discovered the beauty of bulk. The beauty of bulk is that you can use your own containers over and over again reducing your waste. Where I shop, MOMs Organic, you can find bulk olive oil, honey, peanut butter, nuts, beans and grains. And in addition to these foods, you can purchase laundry detergent and dish soap!
14. I try to buy produce that is not packaged. This is where I am not always successful. For instance, the berries (excellent for slowing the aging process) come in plastic containers and the grapes come in plastic bags. However, this week, there were carrots that I could purchase unpackaged or in a plastic bag and I voted with my dollar and chose the loose carrots.
15. I store food in Pyrex. Pyrex is an excellent alternative to plastic containers and they come with lids that you can use over and over instead of plastic wrap.
16. When all else fails, I recycle.
What do you do to reduce your waste and impact on our planet? Share in the comments!