So many of us are, in some way, striving to become more eco-conscious (yay!). But at times the whole process can seem overwhelming. If you have more downtime these days, it’s a great time to evaluate your habits and determine what you can do to help the planet.
Don’t let yourself feel too bogged down; even small changes can make big progress. If we can each adjust our habits little by little, over time we can positively impact the planet in a major way without feeling overwhelmed. In case you need a little inspiration this Earth Week, below are seven small habits you could work on. Try adding one to your routine each day and and when the time comes when you’re able to be out and about you will be able to take the habits you’ve created with you, wherever you go.
1. Swap to biodegradable paper or stainless steel reusable straws.
Disposable plastic straws may seem tiny and insignificant, but every time you use one you’re contributing more waste to landfills. And since plastic doesn’t decompose like paper, though you only used each of those straws one time, they may take up space on our planet for hundreds of years (or more)! Even worse, as they do eventually break down, they can have toxic effects on wildlife and the planet.
You can also “Green” your beverages by always using a reusable cup, whether you’re at home or on the go. Choose cups that show your personality through colors, patterns and designs to make it more enticing to use them.
If you need a reminder to grab a straw on your way out the door, try popping a basket on the kitchen counter in plain sight and create a cute display with colorful paper straws or stainless steel ones. If they’re right out in the open, you’re more likely to make it a habit to grab one.
2. Add air-cleaning greenery to your home.
Does your weekly routine include watering plants? Certain plants can help to remove toxic chemicals and pollutants from airspace contributing to cleaner indoor air. Once you’re in the habit of caring for spider plants, snake plants, peace lilies, or whichever air-cleaning plant you choose, you’ll be able to breathe a little easier and take your green thumb outdoors!
Since one of the main functions of plants is consuming carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, the more plants you can introduce to your environment (inside or out), the better it is for your health and the health of our planet! Try to get at least two plants per 100 square feet inside your home or office. Instead of buying new plastic planters, look around your house to find items that could be repurposed to pot plants. Jars, buckets and candle holders are just a few items you may have around your house that will hold your plants and look good at the same time.
3. Start a compost.
Instead of tossing your biodegradable scraps in the trash, look for a compost pail to start making your own healthy soil! If you have yard space, create a compost pile outside to build rich dirt from your waste material. Not only will this decrease the amount of trash you send to the landfills, it will also minimize your output of methane (a greenhouse gas which has increased substantially due to human activity and is contributing to climate change). Even if you live in a city and don’t have space outside, you can still enrich the Earth with the right foundation for new plant growth. Just look into compost pick-up or drop-off options in your area. Many cities have them these days
4. Make an Earth-friendly utensil travel set from thrifted fabric and silverware.
Get in the habit of carrying it around so you’ll never need to grab plastic silverware when you’re eating on the go! Hey, you could even add your Earth-friendly straw!
5. Stop buying your regular dish tabs.
We’re creatures of habit and once we find a certain product we like, we tend to stick with it. The problem is that products like dish tabs usually come in plastic bags and can sometimes include freaky chemicals. But you still need to wash your dishes, right? So how about making your own dish tabs with more natural ingredients? Crank out large batches of these babies and stash them in a cute countertop jar.
6. Don’t reach for the heat when you’re cold!
Instead of cranking the thermostat up when you’re cold, throw on an extra layer. Just remember that not all layers are created equal; look for wool socks and sweaters or down vests. These natural fibers are seasonal staples that have been keeping people warm through frigid winters long before we had the heating options we have today. By changing this habit you’ll use fewer fossil fuels and create less pollution. You’ll also save money—win, win!
7. Instead of tossing everything in the dryer, hang dry!
Even though t’s so much faster and easier to throw freshly-washed laundry into the dryer consider taking your clothes outside to dry. As the days get warmer and the sun shines longer, it’s a great option to consider. Even in the spring and winter you can make your laundry day habits more eco-friendly. Here’s how:
Instead of having a designated laundry day where you wash a week’s worth of clothes, do no more than one load of laundry per day. This will mean that you do it more often, but it won’t take as long and you can hang-dry your clothes without a massive amount of clothing strewn about your space. Prepare one area with the right hanging fixtures and get in the habit of hanging. This could mean thrifting a clothes horse, stringing up a retractable laundry lines inside, or both!
So, what do you think? Are you up to this Earth Week challenge?
Just focus on one habit each day and carry those forward with you through the rest of the year until it becomes your new routine! Even if you’re only changing one of these this year, you’re still making a positive difference. They may be little ways to help the environment, but they’re each beneficial. What are your favorite ways to live an eco-friendly life?