Earth Day can feel overwhelming for those who do not know how to start making a positive impact on the planet. Most of us look at the environmental heroes who dedicate their lives to cleaning up the oceans, saving the rainforests, and conserving natural resources and say, “Wow, that’s awesome. I wish I had time for that.”
The truth is: you do.
The little things we do every day without thinking about it are what have depleted natural resources, cut down the rainforests, and made ocean clean up necessary.
And it’s the little things we CAN do every day that will help to slow down or eliminate the destruction we are responsible for.
- BYOS: Bring Your Own Straws.
- One of the little known epidemics in plastic waste are disposable, one-time-use plastic straws. “Americans alone use 500 million straws daily,” and the problem with straws is they are so small and lightweight that they do not end up in recycling bins and are easily consumed by accident by wildlife, especially in our oceans. This video of scientists carefully removing a straw embedded in a sea-turtles nostril went viral a few years ago (*). Over “eight million tons of plastic trash” end up in our oceans every year (*). While plastic bags make up one of the largest portions of plastic waste and pollution, straws are one of the most pervasively used items disposed of almost daily, and it’s an easy switch for you to make.
- Tiny Green Change: Purchase some reusable metal or silicone straws to keep with you on the go. Keep them in your car (most likely the location you’ll be when you order fast food or pick up a drink at the gas station where you’d normally grab a plastic straw) or your purse/bag or in a drawer in your desk at work. Keep your straws handy and clean (and even be able to store them once they’re dirty) in a Marley’s Monsters Travel Straw Pouch.
- Opt for reusable products for your leftovers.
- Foil and plastic wrap both contribute to pollution and our overflowing landfills. It’s easy to reduce or completely eliminate your consumption of them by making greener choices.
- Tiny Green Change: Use glass seal-able containers or Marley’s Monsters Reusable Bowl and Plate Covers instead of using plastic wrap or foil.
- Replace paper towel with reusable UNpaper towels.
- Just like when comparing disposable diapers to cloth diapers, the production and decomposition of disposable paper towels use more water than the production, care, and decomposition of cloth towels. “To make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed” (*). The production of paper towel uses far more water than it would to wash unpaper towel or rags used for cleaning around the home for the lifetime of that reusable cloth/rag.
- Update your face-care and make-up routines with reusable options.
- Anything you use once and throw away is not a green choice. Because “away” is an actual place of existence; those items don’t disappear; they end up somewhere to decompose. While cotton balls and facial rounds are not the biggest impact on the environment, the packaging they come in (plastic bags) is. “500 billion- 1 trillion [plastic bags] are used worldwide each year, the bulk of which end up in landfill (taking up to 1,000 years to decompose)” (*).
- Change your period from red to green.
- In the United States alone, each year “an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of, in addition to all of the cardboard applicators, as well as packaging” (*). While switching to reusable menstrual products can seem “kind of crazy” and “gross”, you’d be incredibly surprised at not only how comfortable these items are (often more so than disposable ones) but also at the benefits beyond the environmental impact. For example, shorter cycles, lighter cycles, less cramping/no cramping, and the list goes on. For those interested in menstrual cups, #PutACupInIt is a great resource for those who are interested in making the switch and finding out which cup works best for you.