Eco-Friendly Living

20 Simple Tips towards Living More Sustainably

Effortless and affordable ways to reduce waste from your every day lifestyle.

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Sometimes it seems like the only affordable way to make a contribution against climate change is by buying those reusable bags found at your local grocery store and vowing to use them till the end of time. In spite of that dedication, there are actually countless ways to combat global warming that doesn't involve putting a substantial dent in your wallet but I'm going to give you 20.

Replace Plastic Straws With Stainless Steel Or Glass

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Americans throw away over 500 million straws a day and if they aren't deposited in landfills, they are often found in oceans. Stainless steel and glass straws are great alternatives to the plastic that has been seen choking and often killing marine life. They are easily washed with the pipe cleaners manufacturers supply them with and can be affordably found online from places like Amazon.

Start Using Reusable Water Bottles

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According to Ban The Bottle, the average American used 50 billion plastic water bottles in 2017. Like the many other plastic materials they are often found in the ocean or in landfills where they take centuries to decompose. Using a reusable water bottle provides the convenience of not having to worry about where the nearest trash can is t and saves money in the long run. After all, buying $1.69 bottle of water every day on campus can begin to add up, especially if you're buying multiple a day.

Trade Bottles of Body Wash For Bars Of Soap

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While soap bars may seem outdated with everyone using bottled body wash, they do an excellent job leaving no carbon footprint. One could find these hygienic blocks wrapped in paper or nothing at all which means there's absolutely nothing to throw away once the soap has been completely used. These bars can be found at any grocery store or at the nearest Ross for $3.99 or less depending on how organic the ingredients are.

Say "No" To Napkins and Plastic Cutlery

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Nobody needs all of those napkins fast food chains supply customers with when they are taking food to-go. Most of the time that mini pile is discarded in the trash unused along with the plastic forks, spoons, and knives also supplied. That's why it is best to tell the employees to hold the napkins and forks because nine times out of ten you already have some at home. Yes, they would keep you from having to do the dishes but they do more harm then good when being driven to the local waste station.

Substitute Your Buff Puff For A Wash Cloth

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Buff Puff's are nice because they are a kind of dual action shower tool; they both clean and exfoliate the body. However, at some point in time they must be thrown away after such vigorous use. Wash clothes on the other hand can be reused again and again because they are machine washable.

Start Using Silicone Place Mats Instead of Aluminum Foil and Parchment Paper

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Silicone place mats are the newest replacement for aluminum foil and parchment paper used in ovens. These shiny, flat, non stick rectangles can be reused for years after continuous use and fits the pan perfectly. There's no need to throw them away after baking which keeps customers from having to buy more; they also come in a variety of fun colors.

Swap Coffee Cups For Travel Mugs

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Thermos's or travel mugs are great for keeping your beverage hot or cold without having to worry about your hands feeling the temperature. Like glass water bottles, they are also reusable and easy to carry around in a backpack.

Use Cloth Towels Rather Than Paper Towels

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Kitchen towels are meant to last long unlike their paper counterparts who get thrown out after one use. They are easy to watch and can decorate the kitchen in a fun colorful way. These dandy accessories can also be used to clean other parts of the house making them a multi-purpose tool that can last a long time.

Change Menstrual Pads For A Menstrual Cup

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Approximately 12 billion pads and seven million tampons end up in U.S. landfills per year, according to menstruation.com.au. With the menstruation cup a.k.a "diva cup" women are able to use this multiple times before having to throw it away if ever at all due to its ability to be manually sanitized during and after each cycle.

Exchange Plastic Wrap For Wax Paper

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Wax paper is a great zero waste alternative that can be used to cover up leftovers time and time again without having to be thrown away as soon as the food has been eaten. Unlike plastic wrap, the wax makes it easy to unfold back to its original form and ready for use again.

Try Using A Chico Bag

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ChicoBag's are compactible reusable bags that can easily be hooked to a wallet and backpack. They are practically weightless and keep you from having to set a reminder to bring one of those big bulky reusable bags like those found at your local H-E-B. ChicoBag's also hold up to three reusables without weighing you down.

Carry A Utensil Kit

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Carrying your own utensils is an easy way to cut down on plastic waste. Not only are they yours, so you'll take better care of them, but they won't have to be thrown at after a single use. These kits can be found online or in stores in sets of three(fork, knife, and spoon) or a spork(spoon and fork) combo.

Replace Plastic Produce Bags For Mesh Ones

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Plastic bags are pointless because if you're anything like me, you end up ripping them open right when you get home to start unpacking the vegetables and you throw the rest away. Mesh bags on the other hand, allow the produce to breathe for as long as you want without having to worry about unpacking them right away. These knitted bags also don't have to be thrown out every time you use it and come in a variety of shapes and sizes; perfect for different types of food.

Compost Your Trash

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The majority of trash cans are filled with rotting uneaten food that can be made into soil for plants. Composting is an awesome way to avoid having to take out the trash so often but also can serve as an inhibitor to start a garden. Those basil leaves, strawberries, and carrot stems can be used to regrow vegetables right on your balcony or at your nearest community garden.

Avoid Buying Plastic Wrapped Or Canned Goods

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Glass jars can be perfect for storing large or small amounts of spices, liquids, and any other kind of market based product. They are even good for storing hand made liquid soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. These containers are easily washed and can be reused multiple times for years.

Shop at Farmer's Markets

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Local farmer's markets often sell their produce bare of any sort of wrapping and it's encouraged to bring your own bags to carry the produce home.

Wash Your Hair with Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

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Shampoo and conditioner are not only sold in liquid for but also in bars, just like soap. In fact, some people melt them down with boiling water in glass jars and keep it in its liquid form. Either way, both options contribute to a zero waste lifestyle.

Drink Loose Leaf Tea

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While tea bags don't carry a lot of waste, there's still that bag containing the tea leaves which isn't going to decompose like tea leaves will. Using a tea leave strainer rather than buying those individual bags is more sustainable and helps reduce waste.

Freeze Your Leftovers

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Freezing your leftovers rather than keeping them in the main refrigerator part will guarantee a longer lasting food life. This cuts down on food waste if you aren't ready to compost and saves a delicious meal for weeks later.

Recycle More

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If you don't want to do anything I've suggested above then at least do the bare minimum and recycle whenever you can. Separating cans, paper products, etc is the simplest thing you can do, especially if you live in Austin where there are tons of places that take these products for recycling.

It's time to see significant contributions against global warming that's causing our summer's to get hotter and keeps our sea levels rising. Living a zero-waste lifestyle seems extreme at first, but is so beneficial to the planet and to yourself in the long run.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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