Convenient Ways to Live More Sustainably

Have you ever thought about how many daily habits are formed based purely on convenience, like grabbing a single-use water bottle instead of something more sustainable? Isn’t it interesting how once formed, these habits can become almost second nature to us? But habits born of convenience can sometimes put a strain our pocketbooks—as well as the planet—without our even realizing it. Today, with so many of us working from home, I see a happy opportunity to break those bad habits and form new ones. And as we put our better habits into practice, in no time at all they will become second nature … and nature is going to thank us.

Water Bottles

Did you know that it takes up to 450 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose? Or that roughly 9 million tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year? Plastic has a stranglehold on our planet. It’s a big problem, but by avoiding single-use plastic water bottles, you and I can help loosen its grip. What’s more, replacing the single-use habit isn’t difficult.

Instead of stocking your fridge with earth-choking, single-use water bottles, round up those reusable bottles you probably have tucked away in the back of your cabinets. If not, invest in several for each family member. Be sure they’re BPA free so they don’t leach harmful chemicals. Clean them, fill them and store them in the fridge where the disposables used to be, so they’re ready to grab and go. I suggest investing in a good water-filtering pitcher as well. As you use each bottle, be sure to clean and refill it, so there’s always a cold one waiting for you.

Paper Towels

Here’s a thought to ponder: Every day, more than 51,000 trees are sacrificed to supply the paper towel demands of North America alone. That’s a lot of trees, every single day, for something we use once and throw away.

Paper towels are a staple in most kitchens, but the key to breaking your dependency is to put them away. Simply keep them out of reach. Instead, put reusable cloths and napkins where they’re easy for you and your family to grab. Also, have a place to put your used cloths, so you’ll know when a load is ready to be laundered (ensuring a steady supply of clean ones). Have enough on hand so you won’t resort to pulling out the paper towels.

Dryer Sheets

They may smell good, but dryer sheets are full of synthetic fragrances and can leave harmful chemicals in clothing, which then touches your skin.

You can easily replace your dryer sheets by investing in some dryer balls. They can be used over and over and they help reduce drying time, static cling and wrinkles. They don’t scent your laundry, but if you use the kind made from wool, you can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil onto them to impart a light scent. Mine are made from 100% New Zealand wool, which has high standards for social responsibility and animal welfare.

Mop Pads

Even though I don’t love mopping, I do appreciate how microfiber gets my floors super-clean without the need for wasteful single-use mop pads or harmful chemical-laden sprays. When the pads get dirty, I just toss them in the washing machine and then the dryer. No more disposable pads and no more cleaning solutions to have to keep buying. Oh, and no heavy mop bucket to lug around either.

comment_2What other easy changes can you think of to make a difference for your budget and our world? How about switching from plastic straws to stainless steel? Or using reusable silicone food storage containers and lids instead of plastic containers or single-use bags, wrap and foil? Our readers would love to hear your ideas for new habits that can help save the earth, reduce chemicals in our homes, put money back in your pocket and cut down on trips to the store.

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To live more sustainably, I’d have to give up convenience.

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