By Alicia Wilke
Being better to the earth doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to build your own electric car from scratch or live like a hermit in the woods spending every waking moment planting trees, I mean you can...
But you can also find small but meaningful actions in your daily routine to be more eco-friendly. Here are a few ways to be more eco-friendly with small but meaningful actions.
1. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
But more importantly, after you come home with your groceries and unpack, PUT THE REUSABLE BAGS BACK IN THE TRUNK OF YOUR CAR. This is something I can never seem to remember.
They just get shoved into the abyss that is my under the kitchen sink cabinet. Forgotten. Sad. Alone. Never to be thought of again until I am in the checkout counter at the store and see the cashier giving me the stink eye as she fluffs open all the plastic bags my things will be coming home in.
NO MORE. I am making an eco pledge for The New Year to remember my cloth grocery bags, every time.
2. DONATE your old clothes
Donating your clothes is awesome, feels good and frees up your closet. Once your closet has room to breathe, find a vintage/second-hand clothing shop in your area and HAVE AT IT.
You would not believe the absolute GEMS you can find in these places. A pastel gingham button-down WITH balloon sleeves?! I wish I could shake the hand of the dear old lady (I bet her name was Mabel) that used to rock this shirt out. I love you, Mabel. And your fabulous fashion.
3. BENTO BOX for your kids’ lunch
Those cute little cubes perfectly sized for all the fun treats you can pack?!?! And what a fun way to not only reduce plastic sandwich bags but also to keep track of what you, the rockstar healthy mom, is putting in there. Strawberries? Check. Carrots/red pepper slices? Check. Something salty? Something sweet? How about some Oreos? Oh wait- I ate those last night. After the kids were in bed. While I binge-watched Disney Plus. Uncheck.
4. BAMBOO silverware for your purse
Say NO to plastic forks and spoons and knives! Bring your own! ACTUALLY, REMEMBER TO PUT THE UTENSILS INTO YOUR BAG/CAR. I’m serious. Why are you still reading this? Go do it! Before you forget! Like me!
5. CLOTH NAPKINS over a paper towel
Just make sure you do not repeat the same mistake I did: white cloth napkins. I love that we can wash and reuse but let me tell you. A white cloth napkin on a spaghetti-stained child’s face? Yikes. Perhaps get some darker colors for guests!
6. EAT MORE PLANTS
Start small! Maybe just one meal per week goes plant-based. My favorite veggie meal is a big plate of black bean TACOS. Topped with pineapple slaw. Dash of tabasco. Sprinkle of cojita cheese. Maybe a lil’ extra sprinkle. With a heavy hand. Or just unscrew the cap and dump some on. By GOLLY those are good. Now I am hungry.
7. REUSABLE COFFEE CUP
PUT. IT. IN. YOUR. CAR. OR BAG. OR BICYCLE BASKET. RIGHT NOW.
8. TAKE OUT CONTAINERS
Now, picture this: you are on a date, it’s so romantic, you order the most delicious and amazing meal you have ever tasted, and instead of asking for a to-go box, you reach into your giant bag and whip out your REUSABLE GLASS SUPER ECO-FRIENDLY TAKE OUT CONTAINER.
And your date is all whaaaaaaaaat you just saved the earth one more styrofoam container! And you’re all oh heck yeah I did! And you both just fall madly in love with each other. And the world is a better place. And you can nosh on some delicious take-out later and it’s gonna be so good.
9. ONLINE BILL PAY
Less unnecessary paper! Nowadays there are so many ways to reduce receipts and overall paper waste. Take it a step further and contact any “spam” mail you receive and ask to be taken off their mailing list- not to hurt their feelings, just to help the earth!
10. REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
This one is a no brainer. There are a ton of nice eco-friendly water bottles out there that can greatly reduce all the terrible plastic of bottled water.
11. COMPOST BIN for your kitchen counter
If you’ve never composted before, it’s actually super fun. There are many chic bins you can find that are the perfect size for your kitchen counter. At first, if you aren’t used to composting, you may be like me and FORGET as you slide all the tops of the strawberries for your kids’ bento box into the garbage. But then you turn and see the bin- and- in your BEST English accent- you can yell out COM-POST!!!!! And go and dig all the scraps out of the garbage. You do this long enough and two things will happen: composting will become a delightful habit, while your British accent, unfortunately, will not.
12. GET A CONE and skip the cup
No plastic cups, no plastic spoons- just delicious strawberry ice cream in a handy-dandy waffle cone. Who knew being eco-friendly could be so tasty?
13. UNPLUG all electronics
And turn off the lights when you leave the room!
14. LIMIT BATHS/SHOWERS
For showers, take in a timer and set it to 5 minutes. Don’t have a timer? Just memorize “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, hop in the shower and get to singing.
For baths, just pick the filthiest kid. Not everyone needs a dang bath! Fewer baths, less water wasted. Boom! Eco-friendly parenting for the win!