Whether you’re attempting to be more conscious about the products you bring into your home or if you are just taking the first steps to reduce your footprint, here’s how you can make eco-friendly choices every day.
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How many of the everyday items you use are a one-time use? Those items, such as paper towels, contribute to unnecessary waste. In the U.S. alone we use 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year, according to The Paperless Project. If every American household used just three less paper towel rolls annually it would save 120,00 tons of waste and a whopping $4.1 million in landfill dump fees.
Other one-time use offenders are single-use coffee cups, the types you get from your favorite drive-thru coffee shop, and the plastic pods you use at home in your high-tech coffeemaker or espresso machine. Sure, you already know that plastic bottles are not a sustainable choice, but it’s high-time you eliminate other single-use items around the home, too, and opt for reusable versions.
It’s not always easy to find a truly eco-friendly brand. Today’s marketing ploys will have you thinking some brands are an eco-friendly choice by using buzzwords like “green” or “natural” on their packaging. But don’t be duped. Do a little research into these claims by visiting the product pages of your favorite household items. These product pages typically list any environmental initiatives established by the company or brand, ingredients of products and partnership affiliations with green companies. You may find that some of your favorite cleaning supplies fall short on their green promises, or you could be pleasantly surprised by an online home furnishings retailer and their offering of eco-conscious goods, such as energy-efficient light fixtures, during the course of your own research.
Mass production is a massive energy suck. The effects of mass consumption has left our oceans littered with plastic and our overstuffed landfills brimming with discarded items like clothing. Fast-fashion (think Zara and H&M), for example, has been a major contributor to mass production-caused pollution. When making purchases, try to go straight to the source, it’s the easiest way to cut your carbon footprint. Online shops, like Etsy, are a direct line to artisans and makers from all over the globe. Plus, when shopping on the site, you can narrow down your search results to find suppliers who use reclaimed or organic materials.
But mass production isn’t just limited to items like clothing. It spans throughout food, too. Next time you’re at your local grocery store, shop around the center aisles. The middle aisles are riddled with packaged and commonly unhealthy food items that contribute to mass consumption-related waste and pollution. The United States Environmental Protection Agency cites that food waste accounts for 20 percent of what’s tossed into landfills, tipping the scales at a shocking 35 million tons in the year 2012, the year with the most recent statistics, reports NPR. Do your part to end food waste by shopping locally and only purchasing what you need. Frequent farmer’s markets and local grocers, as these purveyors often have the freshest and most sustainable goods.
From researching brands before you buy, avoiding mass-produced items and implementing reusable items into your everyday, there are a variety of ways that you can positively impact the environment through your daily activities.
Lauren Topor is a full-time freelance writer and alumna of Arizona State University. Her professional work has appeared in a variety of publications from lifestyle mags to business websites. Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurentopor.
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