Earlier this month, the City of Cleveland started issuing fines on incorrect recycling. As I read through the recycling guidelines, I realized that I had been recycling all wrong, and not only that, but a lot of what I thought was recycled actually isn’t!
A little context - improper recycling leads to contamination, which means that you’re really messing up the process and reducing your positive environmental impact if you’re doing it wrong. The other part of the equation is that countries like China, who used to take our waste, just don’t want “foreign garbage” anymore. The New York Times published a series of pieces highlighting the issue, and the more I read about it, the more I realized that number one way to make an impact is to reduce your single-use waste.
How many of us drive up or order ahead at Starbucks each day, or get takeout, or use cotton pads to remove our makeup? We are all doing it because we never have any time and love convenience, and yet if we all make some very simple tweaks, together we can make a dent in the amount of single-use waste that we’re creating that ends up in landfills.
- Don’t buy water unless you absolutely HAVE to. One of my pet peeves is that stadiums and concert venues will only allow you to take in a factory sealed water bottle rather than being more like airports and only allowing an empty water bottle that you can then refill once you’ve cleared security checks. That situation aside, carry your own water bottle wherever possible. There are plenty of leak-proof stylish options available at a variety of price points, so explore them at your local store and grab one.
- Where possible, glass or metal >plastic. I recently read a story that suggested that the chemicals in plastic, even the bpa free variety, can throw female hormones out of whack and cause weight gain. Whether that’s true or not, it’s generally a good idea to slowly switch to metal or glass food or beverage storage over plastic. I really like using metal “tifffin” containers for my desk lunches, and Healthy Human water bottles and travel mugs. And of course, while you’re at it, just say NO! to plastic straws.
- Using cotton pads to take off your makeup every night? Consider switching to old fashioned wash cloths. Using paper towels and paper napkins in your kitchen? Consider switching to cloth. Now, you will need to toss these in the wash and use a new one each day, but you can just throw them in with your regular laundry and be ready to go! If you want to be even more eco friendly, consider buying vintage napkins.
- Speaking of beauty, consider cancelling your monthly beauty box subscription. This was a tough one for me because I absolutely LOVED my PLAY! By Sephora box, but all those tiny little plastic container that barely contain enough product for just a handful of uses? So wasteful!
- Shop local where you can, and carry your own bags so you can say pass on the plastic! I love Amazon Prime, and while you can absolutely recycle the cardboard and the plastic air pillows (at your grocery store), you’re supporting local businesses and local employment when you shop local.
Do you have little tips and tricks that you’re using to reduce your carbon footprint and environmental impact? I would love to hear them in the comment section below!