I was shocked to learn that straws are one of the worst things for the environment. Straws are not disposable and the BPA laced plastic does not break down, ever. There are 500 million straws used every 24 hours in the US.
Straw shapes are dangerous and can also hurt marine animals. If you love to slurp, try other disposable plastic straw alternatives such as wheat, stainless steel, or bamboo.
2. Menstrual Pads
Yes, our house is a rag-free home. Initially, I moved away from traditional pads because I was a broke college graduate. My friend recommended a menstrual cup – that was the first time I ever heard of such a thing. They are more expensive at first (I paid $20 for my first cup and $27 for my second cup) but will save you more money in the long run.
I admit I was once a big makeup enthusiast. I didn’t wear or even use much of anything though and I never “hit pan” on a product in my entire life.
I purchased with the intention of using it someday but I just ended up hoarding them until they expired.
I like the visually good packaging in cosmetic like the next girl…but if you think about how many resources it takes to make them. It’s less pretty.
Some ingredients in makeup are bad for you and the environment – one such being mineral oil – which is sometimes even in baby lotion.
4. Commercial Cleaners
My yearly commercial cleaner consumption isn’t that high but that’s still an extra $50 in our wallet and an adjacent plus for the planet.
I use vinegar to clean our home. It’s non-toxic, pet-safe, and inexpensive. When vinegar and baking soda foams up, I get a total kick out of it since, yeah, I am mentally a child 😉
5. Paper Products
Using disposable paper plates instead of washing regular plates can be tempting. Eating without the clean up is this lazy girl’s definition of luxury!
Paper products are costly. Not just the “price” but the price to the environment.
I’ve been re-watching an old ABC show called ‘WifeSwap.’ Does anyone remember that show? They basically switch two wives from very different families and make them live with each other for 2 weeks.
In one of the episodes, this woman buys thousands of paper plates to avoid the clean up because “cleaning takes time away from her kids.”
The swapped husband thinks she’s insane and whips out a calculator. For a family of 6, she is spending $3 a day, $90 a month, and $1,080 a year on paper plates alone. The look on her face was priceless and the man’s waving his calculator screaming “you’re spending $1,000 a year on paper plates!”
6. Plastic Bags
When our county banned plastic bags almost 7 years ago, I was mad. I did not understand why they had to do this.
Plastic bags slowly release toxicity as they are breaking down into the dirt. Animals choke and die on these bags constantly. Besides helpless animals, plastic bags also end up everywhere as storm drains. The build-up causes further damage to the flow of water and water sanitation levels.
7. Pet Litter
Common house pets like house cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamster use shredded paper for bedding and waste. Know that you can compost pet litter to save it from entering landfills. If you have old newspaper lying around to shred those by hand or shredding machine. That will make good alternative bedding (not so much potty) for small sized critters like rabbits and hamsters.
8. Big Batteries
Tiny AAA batteries may not be of harm in small doses but given how many batteries (no matter the size) are produced each year and how many are junked into landfills – you will second think that notion.
The way we make electronic waste is dangerous to the environment because of the chemicals involved (metals like cadmium, zinc, nickel, mercury, and acids) and how we harvest those chemicals. Soil, water, air pollution are all parts of the problem when it comes to battery.
Yes, the invention of the battery outperforms the harm but we have to rethink the way we approach using batteries before it’s TOO late.
Recycling batteries and using rechargeable batteries (good to recharge up to 1000 times!) can better your environmental impact a lot.
9. Mailing Envelopes & Shipping Boxes
We have an IKEA drawer full of used mailing envelopes. I do a lot of back and forth at the post office for my side business.
One day, I asked the postal clerk, “OK, these mailing envelopes are used. There’s already different tracking and labels all over them. It’s clear that I am reusing them – is this OK?”
Her reply? “More than OK, it’s recommended to reuse them.”
Her only advice was to cover up the old tracking to not confuse the delivery person. Good advice.
USPS shipping boxes are also free to order online. For a lot of online retailers, free supplies and reusing material is sizable in decreasing overhead.
10. Gasoline Cars
It’s debatable if electric cars are truly good for the environment since car batteries take so much energy to create (which in turn hurts the environment). However, a definite proven “big hurt” for Mother Nature is traditional gas cars. Look into carpools and car sharing programs for a better alternative.
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