We all care about the planet, right? But sometimes the steps required to shrink our environmental footprints just seem so hard that we give up before we even start.
My personal journey, as documented on my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, is all about reducing my own plastic consumption and plastic waste as far as possible. But I certainly don't expect everyone to jump in and take such drastic measures immediately. My secret is that throughout this process I'm actually having fun. And I'd like to share some of the simple steps I've taken to reduce waste and have fun at the same time.
1) Paper or Plastic? Neither type of disposable bag is good for the environment. Both require materials and energy to produce. But so often people tell me that they forget to bring their reusable bags, leaving them at home or in the car. Solution: Get yourself a variety of ChicoBags in bright colors. Shaped just like their disposable plastic cousins, Chicobags come with a handy stuff sack sewn right into the inside of the bag so it can't be misplaced. Toss several into your purse, backpack, or briefcase and never forget your reusable bags again.
This week, blogger highmountainmuse opined:
How many trips per week, let alone per month, do you "stop by" the grocery store, in your SUV? Does bringing your own bag out[weigh] the expended fuel, or justify the gourmet, imported items purchased, and its packaging? I wonder...
She has a point. What good is a small step like bringing our own grocery bags if we're filling them up with plastic or bringing them in a gas guzzling car? Which brings me to my next two steps.
2) Plastic-free Peaches. Blogger Anna Cummins has a better idea than plastic produce bags. Her organization, Bring Your Own, provides super cute reusable produce/bulk food bags made from reused T-shirts, which are now available on her site. Organic cotton Ecobags are another, less colorful alternative.
3) Pedal Power. Why be stuck in the car when you can whiz around traffic on your bike? With baskets on the back and the front, I love riding my bike for all kinds of errands. And not being the real cycling type, I chose a bike that made me feel like a kid again. Yeah, it's a girl bike. I'm a girl! Green L.A. Girl Siel is a big proponent of bike riding for transportation too. And her girl bike is pink!
Think it will be too hard to do all your shopping by bike? Start slow. Think about how many times you drive to the store in a week (or month) and commit to replacing one of those car trips with a bike trip. Think of the money you'll save on gas. The weather is warming up. It'll be fun. I promise.
4) Pass on the Plastic bottle. With all that exercise, you're bound to get thirsty. Don't forget to fill up and bring a reusable stainless steel water bottle. It's not only eco-friendly but will save you money on bottled water. Stainless steel is great because it won't leach BPA like many plastic bottles and unlike aluminum bottles, it requires no inner "mystery liner." Klean Kanteen is the original and even offers a cage for attaching your bottle to your bike. Alternatively, blogger Kellie Brown recently reviewed the new Eco Canteen, which is similar to Klean Kanteen for a much lower price. Unfortunately, her giveaway is over. Anyone else out there giving away an Eco Canteen? Please leave a comment here!
5) Perfect Pop. How about rewarding yourself for your efforts with a glass of cold soda pop? But skip the bottle. One of the most fun solutions I've found for cutting waste is my Soda Club soda maker. Using returnable/refillable canisters of CO2 to add fizz to my own water, I've eliminated most packaging altogether. I chose the Penguin model because it comes with glass carafes rather than plastic. It is a bit pricey, but if you are a regular soda drinker, the price might be worth it. And Soda Club flavor syrups contain no High Fructose Corn Syrup. You can skip the plastic straw, too. Invest in a few glass or stainless steel drinking straws. You'll be surprised how much more enjoyable they are than plastic.
6) Pistachio or Praline Pecan? If plain soda's not your ideal treat, how about adding a scoop of ice cream, preferably local and organic. That's fine if you're at home. But what if you just happen to pass a Ben & Jerry's while running errands and need a quick treat right now? Do as Canadian blogger Green As A Thistle does, and opt for a cone rather than a cup for a truly zero waste experience. This step was probably the easiest and most fun of all the 365 changes she made during her green year. It's my personal favorite too!
Other bloggers reducing their waste:
Beth Terry writes about finding creative ways to reduce her plastic consumption and plastic waste at Fake Plastic Fish and encourages others to join the fun. We only have one planet. Let's enjoy it instead of junking it up with plastic!
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