My friend Ashlee Piper’s amazing book Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.hits shelves this summer (but you can pre-order it now!) and I’m so stoked for her I decided to dedicate this #FridayFive to her favorite subject – giving a sh*t about the environment.
My favorite thing about Ashlee’s book is how incredibly practical it is. My second favorite thing is that she asked me to write a blurb for the jacket. She makes reducing your footprint fun, easy, affordable and stylish, too. So in her honor, here are five easy, stylish, and non-dorky ways you can cut back on waste every day:
1. Drink Like You Give a Sh*t
By now I hope you’ve weaned yourself fully from bottled water, and make a conscious effort to carry your own water bottle. I mean, it’s been proven time and time again that most bottled water comes from municipal sources (aka tap water) so why spend money on it? I’ve been using the same Klean Kanteen for eight years, so I’d say it’s more than paid for itself.
But coffee, tea and soft drinks are an area where a lot of us still make a lot of garbage so I suggest the Juice Cleanse of Righteous Fury Tumbler with Straw for your to-go iced lattes and green teas. For hot drinks, I love my Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug because it keeps things hot for hours and hours, and it’s spill-proof and slim enough to fit in most cup holders.
I also have a set of Stainless Steel Drinking Straws that I use at home for smoothies, cold drinks and the occasional milkshake. There are tons of varieties, including glass, and extra wide straws for thicker drinks.
2. No Diggity, I got to Bag it Up
Last year Chicago enacted a shopping bag tax, and while I don’t have the statistics on hand, my eyeballs tell me that it’s significantly reduced the number of single use bags used in the city – nearly everyone in every store brings their own totes. I’ve had the same set of Reuseit EarthTote bags for eight years now – I just throw them in the washing machine every once in a while. (If you’re wondering why everything is eight years old, it’s because I worked for Reuseit.com eight years ago.) Another way to cut down on waste when you’re grocery shopping is using Reusable Mesh Produce Bags with the tare weights printed on the tag, so you aren’t paying for the extra weight.
And, don’t forget about your lunch bag where you can reduce lots of waste – from using containers and reusable snack bags instead of Ziplocks, to a reusable utensil set, napkin and even the bag itself.
3. Filth is My Life
Ironically, we make a lot of garbage when we clean our houses. From the disposable plastics our cleaning products come in to the mountain of paper towels we throw away. Thankfully, a lot of store-bought natural cleaning products offer refills, which cuts back on waste, but ultimately you’re still tossing out a refill package. If you have the time and patience to make your own cleaners at home, there are tons of resources online and I’ve found many of them to be inexpensive, effective, and easy to make.
I haven’t been able to totally say goodbye to paper towels in my house (thanks largely to my dog) but Skoy cloths are a decent alternative. They’re made from cotton and wood-based cellulose, so they’re compostable, but more importantly you can use, sanitise, and reuse them over and over again. Designate different colors for different uses around the house and you’ll cut back a lot on your paper towel use.
4. Cooking Up Garbage
A few years back I wrote a long post about ways to cut back on waste in the kitchen, so I’ll just highlight a few here. If you’re a baker, definitely invest in a few silicone baking mats to not only cut back on how much parchment paper and aluminum foil you use, but also to save water as you can wash your baking sheets less frequently.
Try to use reusable containers instead of plastic baggies and plastic wrap, it sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of storing leftovers in disposables. You can also take a page out of my grandma’s book and save the containers your yogurt and other foods come in, and reuse those.
You can also buy a lot of staples in bulk – things like nutritional yeast, flour, coffee, nuts. Store them in clear, airtight containers and you might find that you’re using them more often than when they were hidden away in plastic bags and cardboard boxes. For other staples that you typically buy in single-serve containers, like yogurt, try to buy the larger one and portion it out into reusable containers. Then save the tubs and use them to store other things.
5. Yep, You Can Reuse Those Too
Understandably, a big source of disposables for the ladies of the house are hygiene products. I mean, we bleed on them, of course we want to throw them away. Some women swear by washable and reusable menstrual pads – I personally tried them and found them to be sweaty and uncomfortable. But, there are lots of alternatives like the Diva Cup. They aren’t totally practical if, for instance, your office has a shared bathroom and someone might walk in on you rinsing it out. But, even if you use them half of the time you’re preventing a lot of waste and saving money, too.
Did you find anything new in this guide? How do you cut back on waste?
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