Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, our planet is on the decline due to various pollutants, waste, and contaminants. Over 1.4 billion pounds of trash enters the ocean per year, with most of it being plastic. Even worse, the average American throws away around 90,000 pounds of trash in their lifetime. You may not think there is any way to help or at least slow this decline, but there is! Simply switching a few of your household items to zero waste items can help reduce the plastic and other nonrecyclable items that end up in the ocean or underground. Here are 9 items with zero waste items that you can easily make the switch to:
1. Water bottle.
This is probably the easiest switch you can make, and possibly the most impactful. If you're already the proud owner of a reusable water bottle, you're on the right track. However, just last year, Americans used roughly 50 billion plastic water bottles, only 23% of which were successfully recycled. That means about 38 billion of them were wasted or thrown away.
You can help to reduce this number by using the same water bottle all year round. And encourage your friends and family to do the same - each person who makes the switch decreases the overall number by about 167 water bottles (the average amount each American uses per year).
If you're still not convinced, think about the fact that it takes over 400 years for one plastic water bottle to decompose. That's a long time for each of those water bottles to be sitting underground or floating in the ocean.
Many people don't think about toothbrushes and where they end up after they are thrown away. You might think that a plastic toothbrush doesn't do much harm, but that's not the case. According to MYSA, approximately 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away every year, creating about 50 million pounds of waste. Do you still think they don't harm the environment?
When it comes down to it, putting plastic in your mouth once or twice a day isn't healthy anyway. Bamboo toothbrushes, on the other hand, are the equivalent of putting natural wood in your mouth a few times a day, and they're 100% biodegradable. When they're worn out, all you have to do to recycle them is take out their bristles. Overall, the environmental impact of these babies is significantly less than that of plastic toothbrushes.
If you have a small mouth, I do recommend getting the child size. Some of the adult sizes can feel pretty large in your mouth. Also, be careful where you purchase these from. Some websites will send them in plastic packaging, which completely defeats the purpose of being zero waste. Make sure they will be sent in a recyclable cardboard box.
If you've ever been to a restaurant or a cafeteria, you've probably seen the napkin dispensers sitting in the middle of the table. You've probably read the message on the side that says something along the lines of "Take fewer napkins, save the environment." While this message is important, you probably didn't pay much attention to it. Most people don't. Each American uses around 2,200 napkins each year, which adds up when you think about the population in America.
A simple switch to reusable napkins can make a huge difference in this number, and they're super easy to make yourself! If you don't feel like putting in that effort, there are plenty of places to buy a set of them online, with many pretty colors to choose from! Just stick a few in your purse or bag so you're always prepared!
If you've ever researched the facts about plastic lighters, you probably already know that around 1 billion are sold every year. This means that around the same number are also disposed of every year. This is not to mention the flammable fluid inside of them which is dangerous when thrown away with other trash.
An easy solution to this would be to switch over to wooden matches, which you can just burn with whatever you're using them for. Because they are made of wood, they are completely recyclable and the same goes for the little boxes they come in.
So, plastic silverware, can you recycle it? Absolutely... not. In fact, roughly 6 million tons of single-use plastics like knives, forks, and spoons are thrown away every year. When you think about it, reducing this number is as simple as packing reusable silverware in your bag every day.
With many large companies like Starbucks banning straws, it's important to make the switch yourself. Fortunately for you, this doesn't mean you have to give up straws forever. In fact, the only thing you're really giving up is plastic straws.
But you won't even miss them once you invest in some reusable straws. Whether they're made of stainless steel or bamboo, reusable straws are significantly better for the environment. This is really important considering Americans use around 500 million drinking straws every DAY.
7. Shampoo, conditioner, and other beauty products.
Have you ever walked into your bathroom or stepped into your shower and noticed how many plastic products you use? If you have, you're probably wondering what to do about it. Here are a few simple switches you can make:
For products like shampoo and conditioner, switch to shampoo and conditioner bars - they usually come in metal tins or wrapped in paper instead of plastic and they're usually made with fewer chemicals anyways.
For products like lotion, body scrubs, or deodorants, make them yourself - there are plenty of DIY tutorial videos online that show you exactly how to make zero waste lotion, deodorant, body scrubs, and so much more.
For products like makeup wipes or makeup remover, try switching to reusable makeup wipes or "cotton rounds," which you can either make yourself or purchase them handmade online. For makeup remover, try switching to the oil cleansing method.
For makeup products, start doing research about companies that package their products without plastic or use reusable containers. Anything packaged in environmentally friendly material is one step closer to helping the planet.
8. Plastic bags.
If you didn't know this already, plastic bags are a serious danger to the environment when not reused. The United States goes through roughly 100 billion plastic bags each year, with each bag taking over 1,000 years to decompose!
Even better than reusing plastic bags, which are not exactly healthy anyway, is to use canvas totes or some other kind of environmentally friendly, reusable bags. These are easy to wash, very sturdy, and can carry more groceries. So, go ahead and make the switch already!
9. Tampons, pads, and panty liners.
This last one is definitely more personal, but very important. Trash from tampons, pads, and panty liners can have a bigger environmental impact than we often think. The average woman creates over 62,000 pounds of trash from the 38-year span of having her period. That's a lot of trash when you think about the number of women in the world.
While certainly not the easiest switch at first, transitioning to using a period cup is easily one of the best environmentally conscious decisions you'll ever make.
After reading about the environmental impact of these everyday items, I hope you decide to make the switch to the more environmentally friendly, zero waste options. It might be complicated at first, but it's certainly worth it in the long run. You'll feel better about saving the planet and be environmentally conscious while using less plastic and reducing your waste.
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