Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been swapping out everyday items for sustainable choices. Since returning home from Peru and finding a greater connection to Mother Earth I continued to adjust my daily routine to include more eco friendly options. Many people think that making these changes will be super expensive, inconvenient or difficult to maintain but all it takes is a little practice as you break free from your old habits!
I’m sure you have heard of Canada’s plastic problem by now but if you haven’t, you’d be shocked to know that only 11 % of Canada’s plastic gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, parks, and waterways and it’s been destroying our ecosystems. A recent study discovered that Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth. Canadians generate approximately 31 million tonnes of garbage a year and only recycle about 30 per cent of that material. That is an insane amount of GARBAGE! By cutting down on your plastic consumption you can contribute to the solution of this environmental issue! We can all do OUR part to make a difference and ensure our planet’s longevity.
These are my TOP SUSTAINABLE SWAPS you can make today! Like all habits, this change won’t happen overnight (mine took me over a year to fully incorporate!) but with anything practice makes perfect.
1. Reusable Food Wraps VS Plastic Wrap
Say goodbye to plastic and hello to reusable wraps! I brought myself some of these a while back at the Toronto Yoga Conference and just didn’t get around to using them on the regular until just recently. Now that I am using them on the regular, I LOVE LOVE LOVE THESE THINGS! You can use these the exact same way you would plastic wrap. Just wrap up fruits and veggies, cover bowls, package some nuts for on the go, you name it! They are made with organic and natural materials, including a wax, tree resin and jojoba oil. The warmth from your hand creates the seal. Clean up is super easy, simply rinse with water or wipe with a dishcloth with diluted dish soap and store for future use!
2. Reusable Water Bottle VS Plastic Bottles – This one has to be the biggest no brainer ever and is the most simple to incorporate in your life, especially with our access to fresh drinkable water (NO EXCUSES!) Get yourself a stainless steel reusable water bottle and fill that shit up on the regular! If you know me, you know I never go anywhere without my water bottle, lots of times to my husbands embarrassment (as we sit down in a nice restaurant and I pull out my giant colourful bottle with a llama on it to have a quick drink - Sorry honey!) But let me tell you I never go thirsty and neither does he, plus we aren't contributing to one of the largest plastic pollution problems (YAY!) A little tip: you can buy great no name “Swell” water bottles at Winners & HomeSense for cheap!
3. Reusable Straws VS Plastic Straws – After recently returning from Peru, much to my surprise and delight I was pleased to see that everywhere we went in had paper straws or reusable stainless steel straws! I hope soon everywhere will adopt this ban of single use plastic. If you are a straw user, get yourself a pack of these puppies, the marine life thanks you!
4. Reusable Coffee Cups Vs Single Use – It blows my mind that firstly, coffee cups can’t be recycled and secondly, this is not common knowledge! Everyday I see people putting their coffee cups in the recycling bin. Unlike most other paper items, coffee cups can’t be recycled because they are coated in plastic, hence why they are able to hold liquid without leaking all over the place! To cut down on your coffee cup consumption either bring your own reusable cup or purchase a reusable one, lots of coffee shops will also even offer you a discount when you BYOC, it’s not a lot of savings but the reward of being green is much sweeter!
5. Make Your Own Household Cleaning Products – A lot of household cleaners contain harmful chemicals for the environment, but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost while you are saving the planet, it’s a win win! One of my favourite ones to make is just white vinegar combined with Castile soap! You can even add in some essential oils for extra antibacterial properties plus they smell amazing! Vinegar is a SUPER cleaning tool and I use that shit on everything.
6. Order Your Groceries Online – I’m absolutely loving the grocery delivery craze right now, not only is it convenient but it also has the ability to cut down emissions by up to 75 percent! Insert shocked emoji here! Individual trips emit a lot of gas for a small amount of groceries, but large companies that use big trucks like (Amazon, Ect.) use more gas but also deliver multiple orders at once. So not only is it more convenient not to lug that giant box of cat litter to and from your car its also saving the environment to have it delivered!
7. Menstrual Cup Vs Tampons – Sorry gentlemen this one is for the ladies. Tampons, pads and panty liners along with their packaging and individual wrapping generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, and they all contain plastic – in fact, pads are around 90% plastic! Most disposable menstrual products contain harmful chemicals that get absorbed by the earth and released back into the environment. Not to mention why we would want those substances anywhere near the most sensitive part of our body, so if not only for your health you may want to consider switching to a more eco friendly option. I get a lot of push back on this subject whenever I bring this up to the ladies in my life. Some say “but isn’t it gross?” “how do you clean it?” “what do you do if you have to clean it in public?” These were a lot of my questions initially too but the benefits far outweigh the cons. LISTEN UP LADIES GET YOURSELF A CUP AND THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR PERIOD LIFE FOREVER! Not only will one cup last you up to 10 years!!!!! You can leave that sucker in all f*ing day ( no risk of TSS!), no more pulling out dry tampons (even typing that statement makes me cringe!), it doesn’t leak like tampons do (especially once you get the hang of it!) and you can’t even feel it at all (hello no string!) this all amounts to the best period ever! Because you can leave it in all day you don’t change it in public (they say you only need to check it every 12 hours.) When you are in the comfort of your own home all it needs is a quick rinse and pop it back in. After your cycle just boil it in water for 3-5 minutes and store it for the next one.
8. Sustainable Personal Care – If you think of all the personal care items you use, chances are most of them are made of plastic or have harsh chemicals in them. It’s tough to make these conscious choices if the only options presented to us are plastic and harmful, that’s why it’s so great to see new environmentally conscious companies becoming more popular! I bet you never even thought your toothbrush could impact the environment, but guess what it’s made of plastic and even though it is recyclable most of them end up in landfills because they are made of multiple materials fused together. I recently switched to Goodwell Co that specializes in premium biodegradable toothbrushes made with sustainable materials and packaging! I’ve also made the switch to many natural chemical free products for my everyday beauty routine, like natural deodorant along with chemical free hair, face and body products!
9. Recycle Smart - Did you know it’s very important to rinse your recycling? Almost 25% of recycling is rendered non-recyclable by contamination – by food of other materials. Did you know not to throw your recycling in the recycling in a plastic bag? How about that black coloured plastic is not recyclable? There’s so many things to learn about what can actually be recycled and what can’t, and if you don’t educate yourself you may be doing more harm than good by recycling things that can’t be recycled. You can check your city’s website easily for guidelines, plus you might learn a thing or two and be able to pass along your new recycling knowledge.
Voila! You are now on your way to making more sustainable choices. I hope this list can inspire you to do your part in becoming a conscious consumer! A lot of our choices these days are directly related to convenience but the more your practice these habits and set yourself up for success the more successful you will be! You may think you are only one person and that you do not have an impact but by making only one of these changes you can lessen your impact on the environment.