Sarah here –
Scientists are increasingly concerned with climate change. You might feel helpless, as you watch the news-you see images of awful pollution, dying coral reefs, melting glaciers and to me, it can be overwhelming! We all know how to cut carbon emissions- drive our car less (or buy a hybrid car!), support renewable energy, and get solar panels for our houses! However…if you’re like me and you live in an area where you can’t really get by without a car and you may not have the means to do much about getting a hybrid or solar panels, this advice may not be so helpful. So today’s post is dedicated to SUPER EASY WAYS to reduce your carbon footprint. Spoiler alert: many of these will also save you money! Double win!
1. Stop buying paper napkins! Paper alone makes up approximately 16% of US landfills. You can cut down on the number of napkins that you contribute to a landfill by purchasing a one-time set of cloth napkins. I made the switch a year ago! I spent about $30-50 a year in paper towels and napkins for 2 people. I purchased a $13 set of napkins 2 years ago, and haven’t bought another napkin since. I toss them in the wash with my regular laundry and I love them! They also make my not- so-fancy meals of cereal and toast feel even fancier! Try this set by clicking here.
2. Stop buying dishwashing sponges! Sponges are seriously one of the most germy things in our house-many studies have shown that the average sponge holds more bacteria than your bathroom- and, as an added detriment, you have to throw them out pretty frequently. I just discovered an awesome alternative: silicone sponges that are antimicrobial AND dishwasher safe! I wash all of my hand washable dishes with them, clean my sinks and counters, and pop them in the dishwasher-no waste and I feel so much better that they’re not harboring bacteria. Try this set by clicking here.
3. Invest in silicon freezer bags! So, one of the hardest things for me is to reduce my need on plastic-I’ll admit it! One of the best things I’ve discovered on my journey to make small efforts that add up to a lot are silicon freezer bags. They have completely replaced single use freezer bags for me! I buy my food in bulk and freeze them in separate bags-these silicon bags are airtight and keep my food frozen nicely. When it’s time to thaw them out, I just take the bag and wash it in hot water or the dishwasher (yes, this even works with meat like chicken!). The bags were a little pricy-about $20- but I haven’t bought freezer bags in just under 2 years. Consider the savings-each set of freezer bags is about $3-5, depending on where you get it. If you bought a set of freezer bags even once every two months, you’re still looking at a LOT of money saved! Better yet, I use these bags to pack sandwiches, hold jewelry when I’m traveling, and store leftovers from dinner. Try these – click here.
4. Cut down on meat just a little bit-especially beef! Cows actually burp a little bit of methane when they eat-which is all of the time! Our reliance on beef is a major cause for carbon emissions across the globe. Consider eating more turkey and chicken, or, better yet- just cut down on meat once or twice a week! There are so many excellent dinner choices that are vegetarian (and those meat substitutes you can get in the freezer aisle are actually pretty darn delicious now!) Added bonus- it can cut down on your grocery bill, even by removing meat from your diet a few times a week!
5. Reduce your takeout packaging. Takeout food waste can exceed the amount of carbon emissions that cars produce each year! Next time you’re at a restaurant, request that they don’t give you a straw (think about using reusable ones, like these), don’t take more than a few paper napkins, ask that they don’t give you more condiments than you need, refuse the plastic bag they put the food in, and try not to do the carry out option as much and eat there, to cut down on the packaging that has to be used! Any reduction in waste will help.
6. Don’t use plastic grocery bags! Bring your own OR, if you don’t buy that much, refuse a bag altogether. Many stores (like Target) will give you a small discount for bringing your own reusable bags! You can even replace the plastic produce bags at the store with these – click here.
Remember, being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to be incredibly stressful. These small changes in my life have really cut down on my waste consumption. Please, do your best to reduce your carbon footprint-and enjoy all the money you’ll save with some of these tips! None of these tips were sponsored- I use all of these in my own life and love them! Statistics and general facts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.