Many people tend to hold the notion that sustainable changes are expensive and require specialty products – we’re not the myth-busters, but the truth is, it’s really not difficult or expensive (it can even SAVE you money in the long-run) to be eco-friendly! So, think you’re up for trying to start living a more sustainable or eco-conscious life, but not sure how or where to start? We feel you, it can be overwhelming at first, but we’re here to share 5 simple eco-conscious swaps you can easily do in your day-to-day life.
1. Reusable Bottles
Something as simple as carrying a reusable bottle with you makes all the difference!
“Did you know that collectively we buy 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute in a total of which only 23% are recycled within the US every year!” – Earth Day
Reusable water bottles are great for anybody and any activity, they come in four materials including plastic (ahem!), aluminum, stainless steel, copper and lastly glass. The average reusable bottle holds 32 oz of water compared to the average plastic bottle which holds 16oz and ranges typically from $5-10. Be sure to make sure your product is BPA (bisphenol A) free which is a deterrent that disrupts hormones and is linked to health issues of fertility and cancer – NO thank you! And also BPA S (BPS) has similar effects to nasty chemicals and additives.
Our Arbor alternative is the 23 oz Vacuum Insulated Bottle which comes in 6 stylish colours. We are fanatics of MiiR drinkware as not only is it both stylish and minimalist with their collection of reusables suited to the everyday commuter, they also reinvest proceeds into freshwater giving projects.
2. Reusable Shopping Bags
Another simple swap is to bring your own reusable shopping bags when you head out for your weekly groceries! Most plastic shopping bags are made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic with an estimated use of one to five trillion plastic bags worldwide — this basically encompasses the entire size of France two times over!
“Between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. More than one million bags are used every minute.” – Eco Watch
Reusable shopping bags replace those plastic produce baggies and yet are still convenient for your go-to grabs. We totally understand that it can be hard to remember to grab your reusable bags – especially if they’re bulkier – to troubleshoot this, we recommend those reusable bags that fold into a cute little pouch that you can leave in your go-to purse at all times. We also recommend looking for specific criteria: is the bag machine washable, biodegradable, what it’s made of (ex: recycled materials) and/or any recognized sustainability certifications!
Our Arbor alternative is the ChicoBag Original Tote and instead of letting yet another plastic bag fly free like a tumbleweed we recommend grabbing a Chico Bag for your next grocery trip as it’s a signature all-in-one reusable bag made from 100 percent recycled polyester (yes recycled soda bottles!) and each has its convenient slip pouch.
3. Reusable Straws
Save the turtles, are we right, or are we right? This can be done in more ways than one. Skip the straw when you’re ordering a drink – it’s a small sacrifice, but a huge step in helping reduce the amount of plastic waste we create.
“In just the US alone, one estimate suggests 500 million straws are used every single day. One study published earlier this year estimated as many as 8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches.” – National Geographic
Missing the straw experience? Enter the reusable straw. Reusable straws are available in a range of materials from glass, stainless steel or bamboo & they can go anywhere you go! If you’re worried about (1) chipping your tooth or (2) washing them – have no fear! You can get silicone tips to protect your pearly whites and they often come with a cleaning brush to keep your straws squeaky clean. You’re bound to find the right fit for you.
Our Arbor alternative is snagging a colourful pack of stainless steel 8mm Straws for your next movie-night-in. Grab a set of these from Klean Kateen which are made with safe and flexible silicone tips and pair up conveniently with smoothies, juices and iced coffees galore. Not only are they the pioneers of the classic BPA stainless steel water bottle but set the precedent for adopting reusable beverage containers in the early days of the going green movement.
4. Feminine products
We get that reusable feminine hygiene products for our monthly visitor might come off as an uncomfortable option at first, but everyone who switches to menstrual cups or absorbent underwear swears by it, so it might be something worth trying out!
Many of the big brand name menstrual products have many additives and toxins that we can barely pronounce let alone trace to their root source. For instance, the FlexFoam technology of the Always Infinity pads has a handful of harmful chemicals including styrene, chloroethane and chloroform which are carcinogens, reproductive toxins and irritants – ew no. And don’t even get us started on the waste! It is estimated that in 2018 5.8 billion tampons were bought and on average the menstruating female will use between 5 and fifteen thousand pads and tampons most of which end up discarded in the landfill.
We bet those sustainable period options are looking a lot better now! There’s a diverse variety of products to choose from. First, organic pads and tampons such as the Natracare brand do not contain those harsh chemicals most conventional pads do. Second, reusable pads with velcro-backing such as Luna Pad are a one-time investment that can be reused multiple times. For instance, reusable period panties such as Thinx are a super-soaker fabric and a one-time investment of $50 a pair. And lastly, the most sustainable and economical is the menstrual cup such as the Diva cup and can be reused multiple times by being sanitized with warm water and mild soap.
If you want to go organic for our Arbor alternative we recommend the OrganiCup in which the signature cup allows for the replacement of 528 pads/tampons – nearly 2 years worth!
5. Reusable Food Wraps
Reusable food wraps are a great and easy swap for plastic wrap or aluminium foil. Say goodbye to pesky plastic Ziploc bags (and how annoying their slider seals can be) and say hello to beeswax wraps and bags and/or plant-based compostable bags for day-to-day use!
“It takes 500 (or more) years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Unfortunately the bags don’t break down completely but instead photo-degrade, becoming micro-plastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.” – Center for Biological Diversity
They’re just as versatile as plastic wrap allowing you to wrap up your fruits, veggies and sandwiches on top of being used to wrap over bowls and plates. To clean, simply wipe with a dishcloth and some diluted dishwater if necessary, and store for reuse. Pro tip: the warmth from your hands softens the wraps just enough to allow them to stick – to the food, not you.
Our Arbor alternative is the cult classic and award-winning British-made Beeswax Wrap from The Beeswax Wrap Company Ltd is but one of many fun colours and designs to choose from. And best of all, it’s a certified B-Corp in which 10% of proceeds are reinvested to charitable initiatives including to the beekeeper’s association.
Alright, there you have it! We hope this list inspires you to make some simple swaps in the name of sustainability. You may think you are just one person, but one person makes an impact! It’s important to remember that if we all individually do our part in protecting the environment we make a collective impact in lessening the amount of waste produced. Making eco-friendly habits doesn’t happen over-night, but, as with just about anything else practice makes perfect.
Tried out any of our swaps or know of any other useful sustainable swaps? Want to hear them, so share them with us below!