This past Earth Month I was inspired by several zero waste challenges featured on eco activist accounts I follow on Instagram. At first, my inspiration was in name only, but thinking about our household's waste in this new way helped me adopt a doable (read: toddler-friendly) version of the "Earth Month Zero Waste Challenge". I particularly admired model Renée Peters' daily demonstration of traveling the world without leaving behind a snail trail of crumbs and snack packages, but with two toddlers and three pets (read: a zoo) that's simply not feasible.
However, that didn't mean there weren't some easy and very feasible changes I could make; it simply hadn't occurred to me to even try to make them before!
Actually, my whole slow living blog has been about adopting as green a lifestyle as possible without creating more stress in my hectic, mommy life. If I can make these changes anyone can!
Not only that, below I rounded up 7 reasons why you should consider implementing these easy changes. We can even put environmental arguments aside, because I guarantee you will have a nicer, better life the greener you make your day! It's mind-blowing really. If you're like me, you imagined an environmentally-friendly life as one of spartan pleasures and monastic drudgery. No way! Times have changed.
Actually, instead of feeling sacrificial, if anything our family's lifestyle improved. Going green no longer requires you to forgo anything from chic style to yummy eats. Instead, it has so much more to do with resetting a consumerist attitude that is poisonous not only for the planet but for the psyche (and wallet) as well.
Here's 7 switches away from single (plastic or paper) use I learned from my easy Earth Month reset:
1. Buy a Dustbuster To Lessen Paper Towel Usage:
I would love to cut paper towels out entirely, but at least we've come pretty close this past month! We have a lot of creatures in our space and picking up their fur balls is kind of a hobby of mine. Not to brag or anything, but I'm an Olympian of dust. Maybe it came from reading Renée's post advocating zero waste, but that morning, paper towel in hand, I suddenly put two and two together and realized just how many paper towels and diaper wipes I was throwing out on a daily basis. It's beyond easy to zoom a dustbuster over the patches where crumbs and fur collide instead of reaching for a single use wipe. I'm sure there's an argument to be made against the energy a dustbuster requires. If that bothers you, I think you could probably also use a broom to similar effect, but overall, dustbusting has greatly reduced our daily waste. I really love our Bissell Pet Hair Eraser. I find it very easy to recharge and use daily. The new Queer Eye also made a great argument for the robot ones that do that dusting for you. (I pinned both options below.)
2. Buy Dish Towels You Actually Like and Lessen Your Paper Towel Usage Even More:
You can find really pretty ones on eBay. I found some I love on Amazon. I find I use (and wash) them more when I like how they look hanging in my kitchen. That way, I also reach for paper towels far less often. In my opinion, Maison d'Hermine makes the prettiest ones. I pinned some options below!
3. BUY A MENSTRUAL CUP:
I cannot stress enough what a gamechanger this is. I cannot believe how long it took me to switch. This past Earth Month, I happened to see an ad for a reusable tampon applicator that made an argument against single use tampon applicators. The idea of a reusable applicator still seemed absurd to me, so I checked the comments to see if anyone else felt the same way. There were so many women who agreed with me and suggested a menstrual cup instead. However, like a lot of women, I thought the idea of a menstrual cup was, well, disgusting. Even weird. Ladies, it is gross and weird NOT to use one. The average woman uses around 11,000 tampons in a lifetime. Not only is that a drain on your wallet and the environment, but tampons are filled with toxic chemicals. You are packing your poor vaginas with carcinogens. Think of it this way: if you wouldn't put a tampon in your mouth, why would you put one in your vagina? If the thought of a little mess grosses you out, a. it's not that messy and b. wash your hands, wash the cup. Voila! No more mess. It's as easy as that. Also, research which option will work for you, so that you don't pick something you're uncomfortable wearing and give up too fast. I picked the Diva Cup, because it's the most popular (for a reason I figured) and not tested on animals. (Some of the dyed ones are tested on animals.) I've heard good things about the Luna Cup as well. If you're interested in even more reasons to use one, the list goes on. Please feel free to DM me and I'll be happy to discuss why they are not weird or gross and why you will love using them at greater length! I promise. Life. Changing. Magic.
4. Buy or Collect a Few Different Reusable Bags and Baskets:
I have a basket I love to use for grocery shopping. It's pretty and the handle is easy to grip, even when I've made a whole cart's worth of purchases. I have several pretty, printed bags from Free People that I was given free with purchase and I've kept as reusable bags, because I like them. The more pretty, little bags and baskets I have lying around the more I use them.
5. Buy or Keep a Few Reusable Cups:
The same goes for reusable cups as it does for baskets and bags. I find I'm much more likely to use them when I like carrying them and they're easy to find. Instead of tossing those gift bag cups because they make for clutter, keep 'em! Having a few options is a good idea. I just invested in a slightly more expensive, stainless steel reusable water bottle, because I broke my last reusable plastic cup. Also, I couldn't resist its biggest selling point: you can also use it to keep a whole bottle of wine cool at the pool or beach!
6. Reusable Lids:
This one's an oldie but goodie. A couple years back, while visiting my sustainably-minded sister I learned about using reusable lids to store leftovers instead of Saran wrap. Not only are they about a thousand times less torturous to use than digging Saran wrap out of the box and spreading it against its will over your plate, but they represent a really easy way to cut back on single use plastic waste. I pinned my sister's pick!
7. Buy Secondhand:
If you follow my slow fashion diary on Instagram, you'll notice I'm into trends and love fashion. You can buy secondhand these days without having to cut back on style. There are so many options available online now, whether it's shopping other cuties' gently used clothes straight from their closets or scavenging Tradesy or eBay. Most of my posts are on this topic, so I'll expand on this one another time!
My next adventure will be resetting my brain to carry reusable straws and silverware. (I've pinned a few that I plan to buy.) I think paper straws, while still wasteful, aren't the worst idea, because at least they're biodegradable. I think you can agree all the above stuff is pretty easy. It's more about a change in perspective, and, if you're a woman, the menstrual cups will also help you not only save the environment but yourself.
What are some changes you've made to your lifestyle that you feel like other people could or should easily adopt? Please be sure to share in the comments below, and I'll include them in another roundup!
Shop This Look:
I made our hair ribbons myself out of an old, thrifted dress.
My bamboo bag is from Cult Gaia.
My hat is by Rag & Bone from a few years back.
My cardi is from a DVF sample sale. Similar here.
My dress is available here.
A Slow Fashion Diary