Our health and the health of the planet go hand-in-hand.
This is not my belief — this is a fact. There are countless studies documenting the connection between poor health and living in polluted areas.
I mean, just think about it for a moment: how can we be truly healthy breathing polluted air, drinking contaminated water, and eating foods grown in nutritionally-deplete soil? We can’t! (Our livers and kidneys are hardworking little-engines-that-could, but they can only handle so much.)
So I believe we should all be mindful of the impact we have and do our part to reduce our environmental footprint as best as we can (not to mention the fact that we do share this planet with other living beings who would be very appreciative if we did!).
Especially since decreasing our environmental footprint is really not all that difficult… in fact, it can be pretty simple. Nope, no need to go off the grid! Just start small with some of these suggestions. But by all means, do feel free to get carried away 😉
BONUS: Some of these tips will also save you some money (yay!) and reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals (woo hoo!).
10 Super Simple Ways to Decrease Your Daily Environmental Footprint:
1. Use reusable shopping bags — and not just at the grocery store.
I always carry around one of my Baggu shopping bags. They conveniently come in a little storage pouch, and fold up to be very small. That being said, they’re also very strong and hold a considerable amount! I’ve had mine for over 5 years now and they’re still going strong.
At first, it may feel odd using a reusable bag when out shopping for non-grocery items. But you’ll get over it! Really, no one cares. If anything they’ll be thinking, “Oh I should really start doing that too.”
2. Use reusable produce bags.
Time and time again, I see people at the grocery store filling their reusable shopping bags with… plastic produce bags! Isn’t it ironic… dontcha think? A little too ironic. Yeah I really do think. (OK enough Alanis.)
So up your plastic-free game by using reusable produce bags too.
3. Invest in a quality water filter and glass water bottle.
Here’s the thing about bottled water: most of it is just plain ol tap water packaged in little plastic bottles that not only pollute the earth, but also leach chemicals into said water… eventually ending up in your body! Now I understand that most of us don’t have access to quality drinking water, which is why many individuals choose bottled water. I for one live in a city that loads its water supply up with fluoride.
The best solution for the planet, your personal health, and your bank account: investing in a quality water filter and glass water bottle.
I personally own and recommend Berkey water filters. I have the Big Berkey and my sister (who has a larger family with two little ones) has the Royal Berkey. If you’re looking for a whole house water filtration system or an under-the-sink system that doesn’t take up any counter space, Aquasana is a great choice.
4. Let an all-natural all-purpose cleaner do it all for you.
A natural all-purpose cleaner can be used for ALL of your household cleaning needs. Nope, you really don’t need an individual kitchen counter cleaner and bathroom counter cleaner and toilet cleaner and tub cleaner and and AND. More than anything, careful marketing has made us think we need a million different, toxic-chemical-filled cleaners.
There are a few different DIY cleaner recipes that I really enjoy. My favorite is the DIY all-natural citrus zest all-purpose cleaner. For a tougher clean (as with the kitchen sink or bathtub) sprinkle some baking soda on the surface beforehand to help scrub away grime.
5. Use wool dryer balls to reduce drying time and energy.
A clothes dryer accounts for 12% of electricity use in a typical household!
It’s estimated that wool dryer balls can reduce drying time by up to 30%! This can add up to significant energy cuts.
6. Make a mason jar your new BFF.
I use a mason jar for just about everything: for drinks, taking food to work (they don’t leak), storing leftovers, storing dry goods purchased in bulk, and for DIY projects.
7. Buy from the bulk section at the grocery store (and don’t forget your reusable produce bags!).
Your reusable produce bags will work perfectly for items in the bulk section, too! Nuts, seeds, dried fruit, dried beans, and healthy grains (like quinoa) can be purchased in most grocery stores in bulk. By using your own bag, you’re opting out of the plastic packaging that these goods are otherwise sold in. And when you get home, be sure to transfer your items to mason jars to keep them fresh!
8. Ditch the Drano and use a drain millipede instead!
I have a weird little obsession with plumbing. OK, not so much plumbing generally as keeping drains clear. Because nothing drives me mad more than a clogged drain (yucky!)… except perhaps the idea of thousands if not millions of households dumping toxic chemicals into the public water supply to unclog drains when the problem can be solved simple with a handy little reusable tool and elbow grease (grrrr).
Enter the drain millipede. I think everyone with a sink or shower should own one of these babies! Basically, just stick it down the drain, and pull it back out to either dislodge or yank out whatever was causing the backup. (Note that I occasionally also do need to use a plunger as well.) The process requires about 3 minutes of manual labor (no big sacrifice, if you ask me) and 1) will reduce your environmental footprint by eliminating your use of toxic chemical drain cleaners (and — bonus! —the plastic bottles they come in), 2) and reduce the number of toxic chemicals in your own home, 3) save yourself some money (those chemical drain cleaners can be pricey!).
9. Ditch the K-cups and tea bags.
According to The Atlantic: “In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. Almost all of them ended up in landfills. They are not recyclable. Using them is extremely wasteful and irresponsible; they are a stupid way to make coffee that simply cannot be sustained.” I second that sentiment! Plus, the hot water passing through these little plastic cups causes the chemicals to leach more readily, meaning they end up in your final cup of coffee. Instead, brew coffee the old-fashioned way! And have you ever had French press coffee!? OMG so delicious — you’ll never go back. (Plus if you get a French press made entirely of stainless steel and/or glass, you’ll be skipping out on the plastic parts in traditional machines.)
Tea bags are also a big source of waste: we have the paper tag, the string, the little staple, the bag itself, and then the box it all comes in (which is likely wrapped in plastic). Oy! Now you may be reading “little staple” and be saying “give me a break” but when you multiply that little staple times billions of tea bags sold each year, we’re talking about a considerable amount of unnecessary waste. So instead of bagged tea, buy bulk tea and use a single cup tea diffuser (like this stainless steel twisting tea ball) or French press (yep, it works for tea, too!) to brew your tea.
10. For the kids, invest in stainless steel straws
Kids use straws and lots of them. So instead of using plastic straws, invest in a set of stainless steel straws!
Do you have any other tips for reducing our daily environmental footprint?
Please share with us below!