Happy Birthday Earth! Today is Earth Day and I’m incredibly grateful for this beautiful planet we get to call home. It gives us water to drink, land to walk, skip, run on, a place to explore, fresh air to breathe, the list obviously can go on, and on. That’s why I thought it was important to pay tribute to our planet by writing some easy swaps I’ve made in my life, and tips I’ve learned along the way that help reduce my carbon footprint and help keep our planet healthy.
If you have watched any documentary on where our environment is headed based off our behaviour, don’t think for a second that you can’t make a difference. We need to conserve this place we call home so our kids, and our grandkids, and so on can live here for decades beyond our time. So lets take a look at what you can do today to make a difference in your habits.
Easy Swaps You Can Make Today
- Plastic toothbrushes for bamboo
Think of all the toothbrushes you’ve gone through in your lifetime alone, and now think about all those toothbrushes still existing somewhere on this planet because they are not biodegradable. While we’re on the topic, also decline the ones they give you at the dentist to and tell them why! Here’s a great option from a Canadian retailer.
- Refill everything you can
There are so many shops popping up all over the world that offer refilling stations for just about everything. If you are in Canada, Bulk Barn accepts refillable containers, and most bulk stores will. You can also refill things like shampoo, body wash, dish soap, laundry soap, etc. at several local stores. I always go to Bare Market in Toronto, but Unboxed is a good spot to.
- Reusable fabric versus single-use items
Cotton swabs, make-up removing pads, Q-Tips, all these things have eco-friendly alternatives that you just throw in with your laundry or wash in your sink versus throwing out after using once.
Opt for the produce at the grocery store that is not wrapped in plastic or unnecessary packaging. Bring your own reusable produce bags like these ones, or just don’t use a bag at all, you really don’t need one in most instances.
- Plastic bags
This is the most obvious of the bunch. Bring your own grocery bags when you are out and about running errands. If you’re someone who often forgets, find a compact one you can throw in your purse. I also don’t buy ziplocs and use reusable ziploc bags for storage. A lot of items you can’t easily find not in bags, like bagels or English muffins for example, in this case, I keep the bags they come in and reuse them as many times as possible before recycling them.
- Ditch saran wrap
Use beeswax wraps instead, or just put what you’re saving in a reusable container. Stretch lids are also a great reusable option.
- Reusable water bottles and coffee cups
Why are people even buying water bottles anymore? Bring your reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, and when buying a coffee or tea, have a cup like the Stojo collapsible cup handy.
Why are we always buying these new? Look on places like Facebook Marketplace, have a book swap with your friends, or visit a used bookstore to purchase these secondhand.
Here’s a few other tips I’ve written about before
Recycling Unwanted Items
Many people throw anything that is plastic or metal into their recycling bin thinking that they’re doing their part. What they really don’t realize is there is a lot of things going into your bin that isn’t actually recyclable.
Did you know, for example, that your Starbucks paper coffee cup isn’t recyclable? Here’s more info on that.
Did you know that a lot of recycling programs don’t accept black plastic? Here’s why.
That if you don’t rinse out your recyclable items then they likely won’t be able to recycle it? Here’s the details.
When it comes to recycling or getting rid of unwanted goods the right way, it all comes down to a simple Google search. Cities like Toronto have this awesome resource where all you need to do is type in the item to see how to dispose of it. There are also so many different programs that help you properly dispose of items in a more eco-friendly way. Here are some examples:
Stores like Staples have bins where you can recycle unwanted or old electronics.
Most eyewear stores have recycling programs that will take your old glasses and recycle them to people in need. Here are more details on Hakim’s program.
- Blankets, Sheets & Towels:
Donate these to your local animal shelter. They help keep the pets cozy in the shelter.
Bring it to a secondhand store, gift it to a friend, or give it a new home through selling it or giving it away on Facebook Marketplace. One persons trash is another’s treasure!
- Cosmetic Empties:
What do you do with all the empty beauty products? Stores like L’Occitane have a TerraCycle dropbox in select stores to recycle these the right way. Some stores take back their own packaging as well like Deciem. Here’s a list here.
- Contact Lens Packaging:
When I started to wear daily contact lenses (because I had to, not because I wanted to), what really bugged me was all the packaging. However, I did some research and several eye doctors in my area have TerraCycle programs that will take this packaging back!
- Fix things:
Most importantly, if you are getting rid of an item just because it’s broken, has a hole in it, or could easily be repaired, then look to repair it instead! There is seriously a business out there for everything and often spending a few dollars to repair it will be cheaper than replacing it completely.
Here’s a great list of niche items and how to properly recycle them
There are so many easy ways that you can start to make a difference. I know that reading something like this could be overwhelming, but the most important thing is to start small. Start by replacing a single item in your life, and then slowly replace more. You’ll realize quickly that it’s a lot easier than you think to build new habits. I also recently discovered this great company called Mighty Fix that will send you one item each month that helps you replace an existing item in your house with something more eco-friendly. This is a great way to easily introduce new products into your life and allows you to conveniently make simple changes. I can’t wait to sign up!
I know in this article I’ve only scratched the surface, so I want to know what tips you have. Share them below in the comments and Happy Birthday Earth! 🙂