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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution


4 Wasteful Habits to Kick & Eco-Friendly Alternatives

If you want to reduce your carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, it is wise to take an honest look at some of your common daily habits and replace them with greener options. Fortunately, it is relatively painless and easy to adopt green habits—check out these examples.

produce in reusable grocery bag
Photo by Shutterstock.

BYOB—or, Bring Your Own Bags

Some cities, like Eugene, Oregon, have already banned those ubiquitous plastic grocery bags. If your town is not there yet and you have a pile of plastic bags the size of Mt. Everest in your pantry or garage, make the switch to reusable grocery bags. Those plastic bags don’t just end up in the dump, they are also found in the ocean, where they can harm fish and take eons to break down. Reusable cloth or canvas bags are a great option.

Are concerned about the cross transfer of germs between shopping trips? Read the labels of the bags before buying them to be sure they are washable. If your package of ground beef is a bit on the leaky side, toss the bag in the washer before heading to the store next.

Watch Your Driving Habits

There are a variety of common wasteful driving habits that are pretty easy to do; these include “jack rabbit starts” when the light turns green, rapidly accelerating through traffic, speeding to get to work and not keeping a close eye on your tire pressure. All of these situations can lead to using too much fuel. To learn the latest driving tips for fuel efficiency, check out an online resource like Driving-Tests.org. You can access your state's DMV handbook from the free site and also take practice tests that will help remind you how to drive in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

Buy Used Whenever Possible

When you buy something secondhand, be it a pair of jeans, a couch or whatever else you need, you are doing more than saving your hard-earned money. You are also putting to use something that might have otherwise ended up in the landfill. In addition, every used item that is purchased means that one less brand-new product will be produced, which will reduce the impact of the manufacturing process on the planet. Some great sources of terrific pre-owned items include thrift stores, garage sales, consignment shops, eBay and Freecycle.

Stop Using Paper Towels and Napkins

Paper towels and napkins may be convenient and clean, but they are also costly and hard on the environment. Trees must be cut down to make them, they are usually bleached and treated with other chemicals, and then once they are tossed into the trash, they take time to break down. Treat yourself to some really nice microfiber cleaning cloths or plain white dishtowels that will take the place of paper towels and have enough to rotate through when they get grungy. Purchase cloth napkins or, if you are handy with a serger, buy a variety of cotton fabric in festive prints and make your own. Although you may still keep a roll or two of paper towels on hand for really gross kitchen spills, using cloth as much as you can will have a positive impact on the planet and your wallet.


Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.