Sustainable living is using fewer resources so people can have enough resources in the future. Sustainable living involves conscious choices of your routine life like what you eat, how you commute etc. Choices that will help to cause less damage to the earth and leave enough resources for the future generation.
So if you are thinking about how to start living sustainably, the best way is to start small and start simple. Here are 8 easy, eco-friendly switches that will help you get a kick start towards your sustainable living journey.
1. Bamboo Toothbrush
A toothbrush is the first thing of your routine as you wake up, and do you really want it to be plastic? No, right! Therefore, switching to a bamboo toothbrush is the first thing you can do to start your sustainable journey.
Plastic toothbrushes are around since 1938, and since then, they have been a significant contributor to landfills. It’s estimated that approximately one billion toothbrushes will end up in landfills every year in the US alone.
Bamboo toothbrushes are an eco-friendly option for your dental hygiene. The handles take only around six months to compost, while a plastic one takes hundreds of years to fully break down.
By the time you dispose of your environmentally friendly toothbrush, a new bamboo plant matures in that time and thus reduces your carbon footprint.
2. Dental Tablets/Toothpowder
Plastic toothpaste tubes have been around for 1886, and it takes 500+ years for plastic to decompose. Switching to dental tablets (which come in compostable packaging or glass jars) can help you to eliminate plastic tubes altogether. These tablets take less water to rinse your mouth, which is again a plus for dental tablets.
Another option is to switch to natural toothpowder. You can purchase toothpowder in reusable glass containers, or you can make homemade toothpowder with ingredients like neem powder, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, etc.
3. Safety Razor
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the early ’90s, more than 2 billion disposable plastic razors end up in landfills each year. We can safely assume that it must have increased manifolds. When you change out a plastic razor cartridge, you are dumping plastic, which nine times out of ten is not recyclable.
Disposable razors can be very convenient, but convenience is a hefty price to pay for the number of disposable razors that end up in a landfill. Switching to a safety razor can be an eco-friendly solution to this disposable menace. The safety razor has a slight learning curve, but you will have a much more satisfying shaving experience with a little practice and patience.
4. Menstrual Cup/Reusable Sanitary Cloth Pads
432 million pads are being generated annually in India, resulting in 9,000 tons of sanitary pads waste. All of this non-biodegradable waste just sits there in the landfill for years and years. Even if you are long gone, your sanitary waste is still there. Horrifying, isn’t it? Therefore, switching to a menstrual cup, also known as a period cup, that lasts for approximately 5 years is a good eco-friendly solution.
If you face difficulty in insertion or any other issues with the cup, try reusable cotton sanitary pads. They last for 1 year approximately and help to reduce sanitary waste significantly. Caution: make sure to clean them properly to avoid any irritations or infections.
5. Reusable Cutlery
It’s just one straw! It’s only one spoon! It’s just one fork! said 7.8 million people.
Single-use plastics are taking over our oceans, filling landfills, and harming wildlife. They have toxic chemical compounds such as BPA that can enter into the water or food they come in contact with.
Making the switch to reusable cutlery and straws is easy. Stainless steel straws and special brushes for cleaning are widely available. Reusable cutlery is an even easier shift to make because it should already be available in your own home!
6. Shampoo Bar/Soap
The first ingredient of any shampoo or body wash will be Aqua or water. And as it is just water, the packaging increases with product size and with it, plastic use. With a dry product like shampoo bar or soap, you can significantly cut down on your plastic use, and depending on the ingredients, help the planet.
The significant environmental risk involving shampoo is releasing chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or its milder form sodium Laureth sulfate (SLES). It contains a potential carcinogen that does not easily degrade and can be harmful to aquatic animals. Other ingredients include parabens (hormone disruptors) or microbeads (tiny plastic beads that are very difficult to filter) are also part of the list.
Shampoo bars and soaps made using organic ingredients that have no detrimental effects on the environment and the body and offer eco-friendly/naked packaging; those shampoo bars and soaps are really worth a try.
7. Bring Your Own Bottle/Cup.
According to a Guardian report, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute around the world, and this number to increase by another 20% by 2021 if we don’t cut back.
Also, we think that paper cups are made of paper and can be easily recyclable. However, paper cups can’t be recycled because they’re actually coated in plastic—as little as five percent per cup. It’s also why they don’t get broken down into pulp and turned into recycled paper.
Therefore, carrying your reusable containers with you like a reusable water bottle or a coffee mug can save much plastic from ending up in a landfill. Some cafes also give discounts if you “bring your own cup”. 😉
8. Bring Your Own Bag
Round the year and around the world, around 500 billion plastic bags are used. So many that one million bags are being used this moment and damaging our environment. It is very convenient to use or ask for polybags for your shopping, but we always forget to sincerely think that polybags are non-biodegradable, and manufacturing paper bags requires large quantities of wood.
By switching to cloth bags is one of the most frugal steps towards a sustainable lifestyle. It can bring economic and biodegradable change to your homes.
Sustainability is a journey. It is difficult to master every aspect of it altogether. So one advice when you start is “Start small and start simple.”