Habits are hard to break- especially when it comes to being sustainable. The good news is that these habits are easy to change! You may not even know your daily habits create unnecessary waste, so here are some tips on how to alter your actions for the better:
1.)Tupperware is life!
I know that sounds silly, but those reusable containers are seriously underrated! They can be used for things such as:
-LEFT OVERS: Instead of covering left over food with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, just use the container! Plastic wrap especially adds to unnecessary plastic waste, and not all aluminum foil is recyclable.
-PACKING LUNCHES: Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mom who packed my lunch every day from Kindergarten to 12th grade (I know, she’s amazing. Thanks Mom!). However, these packed lunches can create a lot of extra waste, as people tend to use Ziploc bags to package everything.
Instead of using Ziploc bags for your Goldfish or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, use reusable containers! Now a days, there’s lunch sets you can buy that are sized perfectly to match the typical condiments of a lunch. I’m a student in college now, so I pack my own lunches (sadly), but at least my lunches are waste-free!
2.) Say No to Straws and Lids
I’ve mentioned this before in one of my other articles, but I feel like it’s something worth mentioning again. When I go out to buy food, I notice that people who purchase a fountain drink fill up their cup, then put a plastic lid on it, then put a plastic straw in the cup, and proceed to sit down at a table and eat all their food. What was the point of getting the straw and lid in the first place if you weren’t going to walk somewhere with your drink?
The whole point of having lids and straws available is so you don’t spill your drink when you’re walking around. Personally, I don’t grab lids or straws anymore even when I’m walking around because I don’t fill my cup all the way to the rim, but if you know for a fact that you’re going to sit and eat your food, just skip the straw and lid!
Straws are made from polypropylene, which is extremely difficult and expensive to break down, and is therefore sent straight to landfills rather than recycling. Plastic lids are usually able to be recycled, however most people tend to throw those in landfill trash bins rather than in recycle bins.
3.) Keep Reusable Bags in the Front Seat When You Go Grocery Shopping
Where I live, grocery stores charge 10 or 15 extra cents if you need store-provided paper or
plastic bags to pack your purchased groceries. My family therefore always makes sure to leave reusable bags in the car, however we quickly figured out that leaving them in the trunk or back seat makes it really easy to forget about them. Keep those bags in the front seat with you so that you have a better chance of remembering to take them into the store with you. Nobody wants to run back to their car after just walking into the store!
4.) Stop Buying Plastic Water Bottles
My family used to always buy the big Costco packs of plastic water bottles, and it’s easy to understand why: it’s inexpensive and easy to grab when you’re walking out the door. However, many of these plastic bottles are found on beaches, floating in the ocean, left in parks, thrown on sides of highways and many other places that are not inside a recycle bin.
Today, brands such as Hydroflask, Takeya or S’well are dominating the reusable water bottle business. These bottles can keep water cold for hours, and are extremely helpful in trying to alter the public preference away plastic water bottles. As an athlete, I know that one of the most frustrating things about using plastic water bottles is that they only stay cold for a very short amount of time. Almost my entire soccer team carries Hydroflasks with them to trainings, and it’s nice to know that using reusable water bottles not only benefits our own personal interests, but it also contributes to the efforts of trying to be more sustainable.
Figuring out sustainable “hacks” to help break your bad habits sometimes takes creativity and thinking beyond the norm, but they’re usually easy to do and easy to pass on! The best way to help change progress is to share what you know.