In 2017, the United States produced and collected 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste. Of that, about 67 million tons were recycled and 27 million tons were composted.
With those numbers, on average, a person produced 4.5 pounds of waste every day. Waste is inevitable. Living a completely zero-waste lifestyle is next to impossible, but it is very easy to reduce your carbon footprint and live an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Read on for 9 eco living friendly tips that you can implement no matter your living situation.
1. Choose Glass Containers
While grocery shopping, look for glass containers to replace plastic where you can. You can then upcycle these glass containers when you’re done and use them for other things.
They can be painted and used for storage, or as a new drinking glass! The possibilities are endless, but they’re worth it.
Other packaging alternatives include aluminum cans and paper boxes. Shaking a box at the grocery store can let you know if there’s plastic packaging on the inside.
2. Invest in Solar Panels
This tip is geared more for homeowners, but it’s something for apartment renters to think about for the day they do own a home. Solar panel installation is simple to achieve, and worth the investment.
As a nation, 67% of the United States’ energy comes from nonrenewable fossil fuels. Solar energy is renewable and allows you to stay away from electricity companies by becoming energetically independent.
Over time, installing solar panels also saves you money on the electricity bill.
3. Learn How to Recycle the Right Way
No, not everything is recyclable. These guidelines vary depending on your county, region, district, or state, but becoming familiar with what they do or don’t accept helps you become more conscious in the process.
Who knows? You may even find something you thought wasn’t recyclable is.
This is another tip that can be difficult depending on your living situation, but not impossible. Composting helps reduce food waste and creates soil that you can use in your yard, your house plants, or donate to a local community garden.
When food waste is broken down in a landfill, it produces methane gas. Methane contributes to negative greenhouse gases and global warming.
5. Eat at Home (Or Get Creative With Takeout)
Eating at home is the easiest way to reduce your food waste. You can buy things you know you will eat, and eliminate the need for takeout containers and plastic coffee cups.
If you do eat out though, remember to bring your to-go container! While some fast food places may not let you do this, bringing your to-go container for your leftovers from an eat-in restaurant is the best way to avoid that styrofoam box.
You can also opt to bring your cutlery, napkins, and water bottle on the off chance they don’t offer reusable things. At a minimum, you should reject the plastic straw that’s offered with your drink.
6. Use Cloths Instead of Paper Towels
Do you know how impressed people are by cloth napkins? That isn’t to say this is the only reason you should invest in them, but it’ll up your hosting game.
Not only that, but you’re saving the earth from a product that’s usually not recyclable or compostable. Paper towels that don’t contain chemicals are compostable and break down well in a bin, but once food waste touches one it cannot be recycled.
It’s better to skip the questioning and just use cloths. If you don’t want to invest in cloth napkins, wash rags and dish towels work just as well. Remember to wash them in cold water if you can.
7. Shop Second-Hand or Small
For every home’s waste, there is a corporation that produces more. Corporations are bigger contributors to greenhouse gases than any American home.
While corporations are going green or promising to offset their carbon emissions, you can avoid them altogether by shopping with small businesses or shopping second-hand.
When you shop second-hand, you stop a new product from being created, and you stop its chances of being sent to a landfill.
When you shop with a small business, you’re directly defying the support of large corporations and their waste. You’re also directly helping another person or family. Just like with corporations, there are small businesses that have pledged to be zero-waste or minimal waste.
In the end, you can tell how serious a brand is by its transparency. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they do to contribute to eco-friendly living.
8. Know Your Terminology
There is a stark difference between biodegradable and compostable. Even “eco-plastics” may need the right conditions to break down quickly.
Eco friendly refers to something that doesn’t harm the planet. Sustainable, according to the United Nations, is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future.
The key thing to remember here is to not get caught up in gimmicky marketing. Some words are allowed anywhere. Others have requirements to meet before they can go onto packaging.
9. Get Naked
With your products that is.
Package-free shampoo, conditioner, and soap are available on the market. Even toilet paper, deodorant, cleaning supplies, office tools, and food are available minus the excessive packaging. Take reusable bags with you to the bulk section at your local grocery store, and the produce section.
Get Creative With Your Eco Living
If you know how to sew, you can turn old towels into facial cloths to remove makeup or apply facial products. Anything you’re thinking of throwing away can probably get upcycled into something new for your home, you just have to get creative with your eco living.
If you’re curious to learn more, check out the rest of our blog.