I was never the tree-hugging-crunchy-hippie-granola type. No offense to those types. I adore those types.
I didn't grow up on cloth diapers and reusable baggies. We used plastic, and lots of it. We weren't a "recycle or die" kind of family. But I live my life a lot differently than I used to. I no longer eat meat every day. I no longer drink diet soda. I've made several changes in life that make me feel better about my mind, my body, and my planet.
Helping to preserve the Earth doesn't mean you have to eat an organic gluten-free vegan diet with zero carbon footprint. It doesn't mean you have to change who you are. It doesn't have to be this big, scary thing. I wear leather and use Ziploc baggies and drink from plastic water bottles. I'm far from perfect, and that's very, very okay.
As I've made small but mighty changes to my diet over the years, small but mighty environmental changes went right along with it. I like to think that I do my part to create less waste, to use less energy, to think consciously about using my resources wisely. Without further adieu, here's a little peek into how I personally strive to be "green."
1. Go meatless, even if it's just once a week. Welcome to the quick fix for reducing your carbon footprint and saving precious resources like water and fossil fuels. Meatless Monday may not sound super sexy, but doing so will save 15.5 gallons of gasoline, 84,000 gallons of water, and reduce meat consumption by 35 pounds of meat over one year.
2. Find a re-usable cup you love and bring it to the coffee shop. And to work. I love a cup of java here and there, but flying through hundreds of disposable coffee cups per year isn't cool. You'll save hundreds of paper/plastic cups, straws, lids, and coffee sleeves by bringing your own mug. You'll likely get a quarter off that joe, too!
3. Use glass jars. For like, everything. Use them for drinking, put your toothbrushes and cotton balls in them, store your leftovers in them. The possibilities are endless. Glass is 100% recyclable and has also been shown to preserve quality, flavor and lengthen shelf-life of food far better than plastic. (New plastic materials are made from new plastic, unlike glass which is usually made of at least 25% recycled glass. Because plastic (unlike glass) loses integrity when recycles, it will never be as strong as the original plastic.)
We know from a vast body of research is that most plastics contain BPA (bisphenol-A), a carcinogenic (AKA cancer-causing) ingredient that releases estrogen-like chemicals in our body. Why does this matter? These endocrine disruptors mess with our hormones and lead to a laundry list of health issues, including cancer, infertility, and birth defects in children. BPA is banned in baby bottles in the US and Canada. Canada declared BPA a toxic substance in 2010. This is why you've been told to not microwave your food in plastic or eat and hot food from a plastic container. You don't want those chemicals leach into your body from food.
I drink my smoothie out of a Mason jar every morning and I require that everyone on staff at Alchemy drinks from a jar or a coffee mug in order to reduce waste. Swap out your plastic Tupperware for glass Pyrex. Welcome to the world of microwaving your lunch!
4. Buy a few reusable grocery bags. They won't cost you more than a dollar and you'll never have to use paper or plastic bags again. You can purchase them pretty much anywhere and they come in a million fun patterns. I keep them in my trunk and now it's second nature to open the trunk before I walk into the grocery store. This may not seem like a biggie but think how many bags you're saving--especially all you avid grocery shoppers! I also use these bags for tons of other random storage purposes. They always come in handy!
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