Top Ten Easy Ways to Go Green In 2020!

Since we are facing a brand new year and a shiny new decade it is a common time to take stock of ourselves and make resolutions to improve our health, and well being. But in 2020 it is also a wonderful time to work on helping our planet. Did you happen to see the documentary Blue Planet? It certainly is a wake-up call for all of us about the unsustainable way we humans are living. In fact, 97% of climate scientists agree we are facing a global warming emergency. But there’s hope for our planet. If we all do our part to make ourselves a little bit greener, then we can drastically reduce the issues our planet is facing. And, luckily there is a super-easy way to start. All you have to do is switch out a few products you use now for their eco-friendly counterparts! Best of all, you don’t have to sacrifice style to be green.

Read on for our Top Ten Easy Ways to Go Green For 2020!

jute tote bag biodegradable custom designed

1. Switch from Plastic Bags To Reusable Bags

Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every single year. And only 1% of these bags are ever returned for recycling. The rest end up in landfills or in our waterways. Luckily, switching to reusable bags is the easiest plastic swap you can make and it comes with a set of benefits. In the long run, using reusable bags is more cost-effective. Many stores are introducing charges for single-use plastic bags to encourage people to bring their own, or they are scrapping single-use plastic bags altogether. Reusable bags are durable, useful and also help to save on resources. To produce the 100 billion plastic bags Americans use each year, it takes a staggering 12 million barrels of oil. This is having an immediate effect on the environment as fossil fuels contribute to global warming. Plus, by using reusable bags you will gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are not contributing towards the growing state of our environment. A single set of reusable bags could save up to 20,000 single-use bags being disposed of over a lifetime. Plus, with so many designs and styles to choose from, it’s easy to find beautiful bags that show off your personality.

We love these adorable totes by artist Claudia Pearson, available from West Elm.
And, how stinking cute are these reusable fruit bags? They fold up into the sweetest little fruit shapes. A set of ten runs about $15.

2. BYOS: Bring Your Own Straw

Instead of using plastic or paper straws, make the switch to steel or bamboo straws.

fizzy drink with bamboo straw

Plastic straws are a buzzword in many bars and cafes today. It’s estimated that 500 million straws are used in the US every day. As a result, many eco-conscious establishments are moving away from plastic and are trying to use paper straws instead. Although this is a step in the right direction, these single-use alternatives actually take more energy and resources to make than plastic. Instead, invest in your own straw made from metal or bamboo and help the environment and push away from our dependence on single-use plastic.

There are many benefits to investing in a reusable straw. First of all, they are safer and easier to use. Stainless steel straws are easy to clean, unbreakable and stay rigid. This means they are great to give to adults and children alike and can be used and transported with ease and without fear of damage. They are easy to clean and maintain. Stainless steel straws are dishwasher safe and will often come with a little brush, allowing you to deep clean the inside if the need arises. Because they are yours you also have the added benefit of knowing that they are clean and no one has touched the straw you are using.

FinalStraw’s fun rainbow collapsible reusable straw comes with its own little carrying case that you can tuck into a pocket or purse.

 

3. Wrap it up in Beeswax!

modern kitchen featuring beeswax wrap set

As a society, we love to use food wraps. It’s a convenient way to keep our sandwiches fresh and our food covered. One study estimated that in a 6-month period, Americans use 10 million boxes of plastic food wrap. The bad news is this film is adding to the mounting plastic pollution crisis. The good news is there is a great eco-friendly alternative. Beeswax wraps are coverings made by combining beeswax and a natural cloth like cotton or hemp. These have anti-fungal and antibacterial properties as well as keeping the food inside moist. Something that plastic wraps simply cannot do. Because the wraps act as a natural barrier like a fruit’s skin, they also offer the food inside more protection. They can be used to cover food such as cheese, sandwiches, and uncovered bowls of food. All you have to do is use your hands to mold the wrap to whatever it is you are wrapping and it will naturally cling just like the plastic alternative.

We love that they are affordable and readily available, like these bright patterned beeswax wraps, from Amazon:

Beeswax wraps can be washed and reused again and again. Then, once they reach the end of their life, they are biodegradable, meaning that they can be composted or disposed of ethically. These innovative alternatives to plastic wrap are great for the environment as they can drastically reduce waste of plastic or foil wrappings. Also, because they save a great deal of wasted product, they will also save you money in the long run.

Etsy is a great resource for reusable food wraps, like these fun organic beeswax ones:

 4. Clean up with Plant-Based Sponges

loofah natural sponges and washcloths
Did you know that most of our sponges are made from plastic? And, that means microplastics from sponges come off every time you clean the dishes and are washed straight down the drain. These then have a direct line to our waterways and oceans, contributing to the trillions of microplastics floating in the seas. An easy way to stop this problem is to switch to plant-based sponges. These natural alternatives are just as good as the plastic ones (if not better) without impacting on the environment.

As with all sponges, they vary in size and texture so you will need to find one that suits your needs:

  • Cellulose sponges are soft and easy to find online. They are great for cleaning surfaces and washing dishes.
  • Loofahs are dried out with a spongy texture and are great for exfoliating skin. They also make a great replacement for scourers.
  • Sea sponges are super soft and really absorbent making them great for cleaning up spills or washing cars.
  • Silicon sponges are durable and recyclable. Perfect for those looking for something a little more hard-wearing.

Here is a set of ten plant-based sponges, available on Amazon for just $11.99 which would work well around your entire house:

Silicon aside, these sponges will all biodegrade over time and as long as they are untreated, they will leave no mark on the environment. They are just as cheap and readily available as plastic sponges which is a bonus and they are extremely versatile. They can do all the jobs your regular sponge does, so there is no reason not to switch really.

5. Start Using Reusable Coffee Cups (and Lids)

coffee cup tossed into air
One of the most talked-about single-use plastic items currently on the market is the coffee cup. This is in part due to the incredible volume that we go through daily as a population. In fact, 16 billion coffee cups are used and disposed of each year. Because they are made from mixed materials they are not widely recycled, meaning they are thrown away and dumped in landfills. In this case, there is an easy, cost-effective alternative – reusable coffee cups. Perhaps the best part is they don’t have to break the budget with the cheapest being around the $5 mark. Of course, there are more expensive options with heatproof walls, gorgeous designs, and flexible silicone lids. There are also some great benefits to reusable coffee cups. Firstly, they will be cost-effective in the long run. Many coffee places will actually charge you less for using your own reusable cup as an incentive to ditch the plastic.

Our pick, Frank Green’s stylish reusable coffee cups:

Because they are made out of durable materials such as stainless steel, bamboo or even glass, they are far better at keeping your coffee warm for longer as well as being more customizable. The bamboo ones are fairly cheap and come in a whole host of patterns. This makes your coffee drinking experience far more stylish. The stainless-steel ones are effective for the outdoors, are durable and often have a handle, meaning no need for a heatproof sleeve and no burnt fingers. Reusable cups usually have a silicon lid too, meaning that there is no plastic involved. It also means that the whole cup is dishwasher safe and easy to clean, as well as lightweight and durable.

Finally, the most important benefit of all is that they are eco-friendly. You can have a sense of satisfaction knowing that you are helping to keep the environment safe and reducing single-use product usage.

6. Swap Out Your Plastic Ear Swabs

Cotton Balls and Q-tips in Mason Jars
Change out your plastic swabs for the paper versions! These tiny plastic sticks wreak havoc on wildlife as well as your ears. In fact, the UK has plans to ban the sale of plastic cotton swabs by 2020. Thankfully there are now many brands that make compostable, paper-based earbuds. These also have all-natural cotton on the bud themselves. These are far better for the environment than traditional ones are because they will degrade quickly without damaging wildlife. The plastic counterparts have been found as a major cause of the fatberg issue that has plagued major cities sewers. Because the paper versions biodegrade, they will not pose such a threat. They are comparable in price to traditional ones and as this trend rises, it will likely bring the cost down even more as brands are forced to compete. We found these organic cotton buds, by Bambaw, on Amazon:

7. Recycled Toilet Paper

dog shreds toilet paper
Hold on a sec, toilet paper isn’t plastic, is it? No, actually toilet paper is just that – paper. It biodegrades when it’s flushed away and doesn’t contribute to the plastic crisis. But toilet paper is still a major cause of the climate crisis because thousands of trees are cut down yearly to meet the demand for toilet roll. 84 million rolls of toilet paper are used in the US every single day. What’s more, with the focus on plastic pollution getting stronger, fewer and fewer companies are concerned with finding recycled alternatives to toilet roll. We need to shift the focus and find alternatives to this growing issue. We suggest trying Seventh Generation 100% recycled bath tissue:
 

It is so much better for the environment than the alternative. Recycled paper means that not only are fewer trees cut down to fuel the demand but also thousands of species homes and natural habitats are left intact. The recycled toilet paper also uses far less energy to make as well – 50% less energy in its creation and 90% less water. This means that there are far fewer fossil fuels going into the atmosphere than with regular paper. Finally, you’ll be surprised how similar it feels to regular toilet paper. You won’t even notice you have made a change for the better.

 8. Bring Your Own Reusable Utensils

reusable utensil set in carry case
This might seem like a no brainer. Most of us don’t throw away our utensils after they have been used once, right? But how many times have you used a plastic set of cutlery when you’re at a cafe or used takeaway containers? Reusable dishware uses far less energy and resources over its lifetime as well as leaving a far smaller footprint on the environment. We sourced this adorable Zero Wate Utensil Set on Etsy:

You can feel great about using this super cute utensil set! Simply toss in your bag, purse or lunch box and forget about using disposable utensils again! Each and every time you use this set you are keeping plastic, single-use utensils out of the landfill:

9. Stop Tossing Those Rounds, Use Reusable Makeup Pads

 

One easy change is to stop purchasing disposable cotton rounds. These pose a similar issue to the use of cotton swabs. Makeup pads clog up drains, landfills or worse, the oceans. Most store-bought makeup pads are actually made with plastic, meaning they don’t break down naturally. There are some great alternatives on the market to replace the ones you currently use. They are reusable and washable and made from a bamboo cloth fiber that is eco-friendly. Because they are washable, they are essentially a zero-waste product and are currently top sellers on Amazon.

They are easy to use and are more environmentally conscious than single-use pads. They are also usually a little larger than regular pads meaning that you can do more with less before needing to wash them. They are compatible with makeup removers as well such as micellar water. They are easy to clean and can be hand washed or put into the washing machine in a mesh bag. They are also good for your skin because they are gentler than regular pads and also do not contain any chemicals or bleaching agents, which many single-use pads do. We love this reusable set from Beauty Heros:

 10. Carry Your Own Sustainable Water Bottle

portable glass water bottle eco-friendly
 Globally, humans use 1 million plastic bottles every minute. It’s easy to think that plastic bottles aren’t an issue because they are recycled. But perhaps a more shocking fact is around 91% of all plastic isn’t recycled. Instead, it is incinerated, sent to landfill, or washed into our oceans. Thankfully, we are waking up to the problem of plastic bottles. The public is demanding corporations and governments make significant changes to current policies. But while plastic producing companies have a pivotal role to play, we as individuals can help to direct them by changing our habits.

There are many benefits when it comes to switching to reusable drinks containers. The biggest is obviously the environmental impact that the industry has. By using reusable water or drink bottles, you can help stop thousands of plastic bottles ending up in landfills or the ocean. Another benefit is the cost savings for you, especially if you have a larger family. With more and more cities installing drinking fountains and cafes filling up bottles for free, you can save a chunk of change on buying water bottles by taking your own and refilling.

Reusable water bottles that are not made from plastic are also healthier for you and the environment. A lot of fossil fuel goes into the production of plastic, increasing the amount of greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere. The less plastic we use the fewer gases that are released.

Not only that but research shows plastic bottles can harbor harmful bacteria. As the bottles break down, bacteria find its way into the micro-tears and cracks of the bottle, eventually finding its way into your system. A great advantage of stainless steel or glass reusable bottles is that they are easy to transport around as they are generally lightweight. They are durable, really easy to clean, and they will also be able to go into the dishwasher. It’s a no-brainer!

 

Thanks to Custom Earth Promos for collaborating with us on this blog.

Please read more about helping save our planet below:

Creating a Sustainable Future

If you ask people why they think we need to become more environmentally friendly as a society, you’ll hear a variety of answers. Some want to stop the mass extinction of hundreds of endangered species. Others want to clean the oceans of the millions of tons of plastic.

But in a recent survey by sustainable earth, the number one reason given for changing our ways was to make sure that future generations had just that – a future.

Now, you may ask what difference can we make as individuals? And there are indeed just 20 firms responsible for a third of all carbon emissions today. But the choices we make as individuals in our day to day life do play a part in forging a sustainable future.

If as a collective we all made some simple lifestyle changes, those small impacts can start to add up and make a difference. It causes the government and large corporations to sit up and take notice. These changes can be as simple as swapping one product on your next trip to the supermarket, choosing a responsible eco-friendly company over an oil-guzzling conglomerate, or simply reusing that coffee cup.

There are many cheap and easy ways that we as individuals can make a change for the better. Below, we will explore some of the different ways we can make a sustainable future possible for the next generation.

The Problem with Disposable and Single-use Products
First of all, what are single-use products and why are they such a problem? These are products intended for one use and one use only. They are usually made of plastic and are a huge cause for concern.

Examples of single-use products include:

  • Drink bottles
  • Straws
  • Food containers and packaging
  • Shopping bags
  • Cigarette butts
  • Coffee cups and lids

Originally created to make our lives easier, these single-use items are wreaking havoc on our environment. It can take thousands of years for a single plastic bag to degrade. Now, there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic clogging our oceans. And this issue isn’t going away. As the plastic degrades or breaks down, it leaches chemicals into the waterways and air, causing untold issues scientists are still trying to measure.

This pervasive problem is spreading to every corner of the planet. Alarming new studies have even found microplastics deep in the arctic snow. Scientists now believe we will be labeled the age of plastic.

Luckily, we are waking up to this issue and changing our ways. Every day, new and innovative solutions are found to reduce our reliance on plastic. Giving us eco-friendly alternatives that will help save our planet.

Let’s take a look at some eco-friendly alternatives to the most damaging single-use plastic items. By making the easy swap to these eco-friendly products, you’ll drastically reduce your reliance on single-use plastic.

What Can Companies Do?

 It’s important we all make these easy swaps to more environmentally alternatives. But there is also so much that companies can do to make a difference.

Let’s take a look at what some companies are doing to lead the way in fighting climate change.

Alphabet

This is Google’s parent company and has recently taken the number one spot of publicly traded companies making clean energy a priority. This company is fully powered by renewable energy.

Evian

We’ve already seen the huge impact plastic bottles are having on the environment. But water company Evian are doing their part to rectify it. By 2025, they aim to use 100% recycled water bottles. Most water bottle companies use only 7-8% recycled plastic, so this is a huge statement by the water giant. Hopefully, many others will follow suit.

McDonald’s

This billion-dollar company is beginning to make strides to fight the war on plastic and climate change. In the UK, they’ve pledged to remove all plastic toys from happy meals, saving 320 tons of plastic each year. They’ve also reported that by 2025, all packaging (including straws) will be sourced from recycled, renewable, or sustainable sources.

American Airlines

This company has already stopped using plastic straws on its flights in response to the plastic crisis. But now they are also phasing out single-use plastics in their lounges around the world. Their new initiative will save over 32 tonnes of plastic each year.

IKEA

IKEA has been at the forefront of the environmental policy of all retail stores for years. In 2008, IKEA removed single-use plastic bags from their stores with great success. Now, they aim to use only renewable or recycled materials in the entire store by 2030. That means all products available at IKEA, from sofas to kid’s toys, will be made with 100% recycled or renewable materials. This is a massive statement to make and hopefully will encourage other major retailers to follow suit.

Supply and Demand

At the end of the day, all major companies are driven by profit. And although many companies are making strides to help the environment, much more could still be done. It is up to us as consumers to show major retailers and corporations that there is a thriving market for environmentally friendly alternatives.

If more people made eco-friendly switches, there would be a larger market for these products and more companies would get on board. It’s now our job to use our buying power wisely and invest in companies that are doing the most to fight the climate crisis.

Where Are We Heading?

If we don’t make significant changes, it’s tough to see a bright future ahead of us if we continue on this unsustainable trend. We are polluting the ocean and the air and killing wildlife with our throw-away culture.

The good news is that we are not beyond saving yet and it really couldn’t be any easier to make a positive change for ourselves and the planet.

When it all seems a little overwhelming and like you can’t make a difference, remember this famous quote from Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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