I’m not going to pretend to be an environmentalist, or even to be someone who does literally everything in my power to save the planet. However, I do try, and I know a lot of us out there are doing the best we can. Much like eating well, being kind to the Earth can become inconvenient and expensive. But actually, being on a budget, we’ve found that decreasing our detrimental impact on the planet by making some small, sustainable changes has not been very expensive at all, and may even save us some money!
There are many obnoxious things about grocery shopping, especially when the ShopRite you frequent is always a zoo. The worst part is that they did away with paper bags at my local ShopRite, forcing you to use plastic…or to bring your own! Andy and I, as well as my family, are rich in Montclair State tote bags. We have more than we could possibly need, and then some. I also try to collect a tote bag, when available, everywhere I go. While they can be bulky, they fold up well. We leave some in the car and at home. They fit way more groceries than a stupid plastic bag, and are so much easier to carry. In the event that we end up using some plastic bags, we are always sure to recycle them or re-purpose them as litter bags. Shelters also often collect them for pet potty disposal! Other stores, like Whole Foods, Kings, and Trader Joes, all offer paper bags, which I’ll sometimes use for collecting our recyclables.
Andy alone consumes more coffee than everyone else I know, combined. That being said, we always use thermoses and reusable mugs to bring our coffee to work that can be washed and reused throughout the day. We also have several cups that are made for iced coffee! I cringe when I see people who obviously stop for coffee every morning, with a disposable cup, sometimes even made of Styrofoam! I literally can’t even. Most coffee shops sell reusable mugs or will at least allow you to use one that you bring in. Stop adding unnecessary waste!
As turtle parents, Andy and I are even more hypersensitive to the use of plastic straws. We know that it’s not 100% preventable, but it’s nice to see many places moving away from plastic in general – straws, utensils, etc. Andy and I have a pack of metal straws that are dishwasher safe and even came with cleaning brushes for travel, etc. We keep some in our car for iced coffee runs (so if we don’t have our reusable iced coffee cups, at least we are eliminating some of the plastic!). There are so many options out there now – paper straws, reusable plastic, metal, and more. They are not expensive, and won’t get tossed into a landfill to ultimately end up stuck up a turtle’s nose, suffocating and killing him. Leo begs of you, not to kill his friends!
Water is so important. But if you’re drinking the suggested amount, you’re going through at least 3-4 plastic bottles PER DAY. Are you recycling them? Are you sure they’re actually getting properly sorted and recycled? Honestly, this is just pure laziness. There are a million safe water bottles out there on the market, just check out Amazon. Just wash, and reuse. It’s that simple. Most places have filtered water available for you to refill at work! I can’t even justify anything else, seriously, you guys!
While I’ve always been pretty in tune with knowing what chemicals and ingredients are in my skin care and cleaning products, I knew I could do better. Think of them what you will, but I am super inspired by celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian (Poosh) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Goop) for creating and curating sustainable lines or gathering information on how to be better consumers. My favorite outcome of following them as been learning about the Environmental Working Group. They have an amazing app called Healthy Living that lets you scan a product to see how it ranks in terms of impact on health and chemicals in the product. Even if you don’t visit these websites often, just following them on Instagram can give you a glimpse of the resources available.
One of my favorite lines from when I was in the skin care industry is REN. Because they don’t use preservatives, many of their products are vacuum sealed. They also try to use minimal packaging, and are aiming for zero waste by 2021. Not only do I love what they stand for, I love their products and how they make my skin look and feel. They’re “Keep Young and Beautiful” line is my favorite!
Doing our best!
Like I said, I am far from perfect. Unfortunately my job still forces me to use a lot of paper, but I try to minimize it. Not all of the skin care or cleaning products I use are super earth friendly, but now when I shop, I scan each one to try and make an informed decision. I love animals, but I am not a vegan. I’m aware of the effects that eating meat has on our planet. For that reason, because I love them, and for health reasons, I cut out pork and most red meat. I basically only eat poultry. But everyone can do something small. Cut those six pack rings (most breweries make them much differently now, some even make biodegradable ones that turtles and fish can eat!), be educated on how your municipality recycles, compost if you can, and plant a tree if you use too much paper at work like I do!