So, for the past week, I have been trying to eat vegan and reduce my carbon footprint. Let me tell you it was rough! For anyone out there living a vegan/low waste (or zero waste) lifestyle, I give you props. McDonald’s and Taco Bell were my worst enemy, along with my coffee addiction.
It’s so easy to go for the quick and convenient options that it’s hard to consider the impact you are leaving on the planet. In my eyes, the fast food industry is going to be the downfall of this planet. It is probably one of the leading waste producing sources in our daily lives, due to all the paper and other products being used. Aside from the waste, it is causing people to be lazy and gain weight (myself included, I’m definitely not trying to point fingers, we are all guilty).
Today’s society has become so wasteful and unaware of the harm that it is doing to our planet, so I tried my hand at reducing my impact on the destructive nature of things. I was in no way successful, and many people aren’t. This is for the fact that it isn’t a very sustainable way to live. For people that have been living that way, they are already accustomed to the lifestyle, making it easier for them to do it long term.
For those of us living a “normal” lifestyle, it will take baby steps to get there. It may seem impossible at first but over time it will get easier. So here are some of the things that I have implemented into my life that have helped lower my waste and carbon footprint:
Walk When You Can
Over this week, I have walked to the store several times. It has helped me get the fresh air and exercise I needed, as well as, reduce the fuel emissions being put into the air and saved me money on gas. If you have an old car like me, it can also help keep the mileage down on your car and reduce the amount you have to bring it to the shop for repairs. So, in the long run it can save the planet as well as your wallet.
Use Reusable Products
This one for me, was very important, and can go hand in hand with walking to the store. Bringing your own bags to the store will reduce a lot of plastic waste. All that plastic will take a long time to break down and may never fully decompose. If you have to use plastic bags, they can be reused as trash bags for small trash cans, and my favorite, litter box cleaning.
Another reusable product that I use is towels. This seems obvious, but most people buy paper towels because it is more convenient. Let me tell you though, I haven’t bought paper towels in over a year since I moved out on my own, and I am in no way struggling to get by without them.
I try not to use plastic bags and plastic wrap when storing or packing food. I prefer using glass storage containers or even reusable plastic (if you already have it, use it, but if you are going to go out and buy storage containers, I suggest buying glass. It will last longer, and it won’t leach chemicals into your food).
The final reusable product I will mention is a bit of a taboo subject, so if you don’t want to hear about period products go ahead and skip to the next section. Now that that’s been said, I have been using reusable pads recently. While they are slightly more inconvenient than regular pads, I would rather not contribute extra waste in the landfills. Some people may think it is gross, but let’s face the facts, periods are a normal part of every girl’s life and it is time to stop being ashamed of it. There are tons of cute options when it comes to reusable pads, it is equivalent to cloth diapering a baby (However, I would say dealing with washing baby poop out of a diaper would be way worse). Aside from reusable pads, I also use a menstrual cup, which is a good alternative to tampons (if you can master the technique).
Stop Buying Pointless Products
This is probably one of the hardest things to do if you are someone that loves shopping or likes buying things from TV infomercials. It’s also more than that though. For girls, imagine how much makeup you are buying each year. It adds up, and there’s a lot of packaging being thrown away. That’s just an example, but if you don’t need something, including food, don’t buy it. It will just end up costing you money you could be saving, and it will end up going to waste.
Thrift Shopping, Obviously
This list wouldn’t be complete without me mentioning thrift shopping. When it comes to lowering waste, thrifting is a great option because manufacturers aren’t having to use resources to create new products. Those items are getting a second life instead of going into a landfill. A lot of the time you can find new products, from popular brands for fractions of the original price.
Thrift shopping is a great way to save the environment, as well as find interesting styles that you may not find at the store. It’s not all old grandma clothes, though don’t dis your grandmas style, it’s probably pretty great place to find cool vintage clothing.