Let's face it, sustainability is "in" right now, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Landfills will only pile up more, oceans will become more polluted, and the beautiful green Earth we live on won't be so green if we do not become more sustainable as consumers. Considering the impacts of our actions used to be considered "tree hugging." Now, you might get a seriously condescending look if you post your plastic cup from a local coffee shop on Snapchat.
For some, the choice between a sustainable and nonsustainable product is an easy one. For others, here are a few eco-friendly product options that make the decision a little easier.
Disclosure: I have used these products and have found them to be some of the most easily accessible as well as effective in terms of sustainable living.
1. Starbucks reusable coffee cups
Starbucks is always up-to-date when it comes to the sustainability trend. Their reusable cups have become quite popular with the benefit of a discount with each use as well as consuming your expensive coffee in a more sustainable fashion. Like any coffee shop, they have always sold decorative mugs and tumblers. It has not been until recently that they have created the basic cups that specifically promote the ecofriendliness of drinking their coffee. These cups come in both the cold and hot beverage style, ranging from $2-$3. Coffee drinker or not, all of the beverages come in the same pollution-creating cups — this means that everyone could use them if they enjoy Starbucks. I personally own both styles and am shocked that it took me this long to purchase them!
2. Bamboo toothbrushes
When you take a step back and think about it, every part of a toothbrush is made from plastics that will not decompose or will take hundreds of years to fully disappear. This means that the majority of the toothbrushes that we have used are sitting in landfills around the world and will be for generations to come. All of this can change by simply using bamboo toothbrushes that are made out of just that — bamboo. There are many brands that sell these products and each one is just as sustainable as the other. Similar to disposable plastic toothbrushes, they should be thrown away after a certain amount of time and will begin to degrade with each use. However, the natural materials in bamboo toothbrushes are a sustainable way to brush your teeth. Who would have thought that you could keep away cavities and pollution by brushing your teeth with bamboo?
3. Reusable makeup remover pads
Another simple, yet mildly looked over aspect of everyday pollution. While most makeup remover wipes and pads are recyclable, they are also more expensive to constantly replace. By purchasing or even making makeup remover pads, you can now take off the day without creating waste. According to most individuals who swear by them, you only need a couple to satisfy your makeup removing needs. When one of the pads is dirty, all you have to do is throw it in the wash and reuse it. Not only will this product save money, but it will also help reduce your footprint today!
4. Reusable drinking straws
Surprisingly, it took a while to explain this one to some of my peers. Owning many of these, the "Save the turtles!" motto is always thrown at me as I unproblematically sip coffee from my reusable cup and straw. While this is extremely accurate, using a reusable straw does a little more than protect a single aquatic species. Straws, like many other plastic items, take hundreds of years to decompose. For something that always comes with our beverages, you would think we would have thought about creating these a long time ago. Many reusable straws are created from metal or aluminum, silicone, and other natural sources such as bamboo. I am not sure what is confusing about these for some, as the care for these is quite simple. After using your straws, all you have to do is stick them in your dishwasher with the rest of your dirty dishes or wash them in the sink like anything else. I personally consider my reusable straws as a utensil that has a place in my kitchen — and they do not take up much space! I have recently seen these in large packs at Walmart, Target, and Amazon for less than $10.
5. Silicone storage bags
This is a product that I happened to stumble across and did not know I would enjoy as much as I do. Silicone bags — I will agree — are a difficult concept to understand at first. However, disposable plastic bags were also a product that I did not even take into consideration when I was looking back on my wasteful habits. The best part about these silicone bags is that they are made to be reusable. After use, they only need to be put in the dishwasher or hand washed and then they are ready for more. These can be bought in different sizes and in packs of multiples for around $12. In addition, they do not take up much space in terms of storage and are perfect for on-the-go circumstances. Like anything, if they are made from a nicer quality then they should last for a while and through various uses. Since trying this product, I learned that if it is considered "sustainable," try it at least once — you may be surprised!
It is clear to see what all of these products have in common when considering their production — they all are commonly created from materials that are far from sustainable! Good thing there are individuals out there who came up with ideas such as these to remedy this issue. It is now up to us to find these products and replace our habits of ease for habits of sustainability!