Working in the medical industry has made me realize the amount of plastic waste that we as a community produce. The single-use plastics that we need for sterility such as needles and syringes among other things have really made me take a look at how I use items in my personal life. I have always been conscious of the environment, and have found ways that I can reduce my own impact on the earth. Whatever your stance is on the health of our planet, I believe that changing a few things in your life can truly help in the long run.
- Reusable shopping bags. This is really a no-brainer. Reusable shopping bags are cheap, reusable, and an easy way to keep plastic out of our environment. I’m sure we have all seen the recent bouts of videos on social media with the marine animals that are dying from eating plastic—they are terrible and I want to contribute to that tragedy in no way. It took me a while to remember to take the bags in each time, but after some time it’s like second nature. I carry about 10 bags in my car, and when I do occasionally forget them, at the checkout I either ask for no bags or paper bags.
- Bamboo toothbrush. I recently made the switch from plastic toothbrush to a more environmentally friendly one. On average, I was changing my toothbrush on the dentist recommended schedule of every 3-4 months. So that means in the past 5 years I’ve used about 15 brushes, all are most likely still in the landfill. A plant-based bamboo toothbrush is something that is more sustainable and I’ve been very happy with mine!
- Metal straws. I love my metal straw purchase! I keep one in my car, one in my backpack and two at home. This is an easy way to reduce your waste at home if you like drinking something with a straw. When I go out to restaurants, or if I go to the drive through, I have been working diligently to try to remember to ask for no straw. It is still a process of remembering, but just like with my reusable shopping bags, soon it will just become second nature.
- Composting and recycling. I am fortunate enough to have a house with a modest yard with a garden as well as a compost pile. I love composting! Not only am I able to reap the benefits of nutrient-rich soil, but I’m also keeping items out of the trash. And here’s the best thing of all, you don’t even need a house with a yard to start a compost pile! There are plenty of resources online to get you started with your own indoor compost tub.
- Biking, walking, busing. This is one area that I am trying to be better about, but it can be such a challenge! We are a species that thrives on instant satisfaction, and I am no different. If I’m cooking dinner and need just a few ingredients, I drive to the store, and that store is only a few minutes walk from my house. One goal I have is to reduce my use of fossil fuels when I can, and taking a nice stroll to the grocery store could help me with that. Carpooling, biking, and taking our city’s bus are all small ways that a person can reduce their gas use, and keep that money in your wallet!
- Menstrual cup. Ladies, I’m going there! I know it may seem outside of your comfort zone but the current popular methods for women’s hygiene products are extremely wasteful and bad for the environment (not to mention expensive!). Several products exist, such as the Diva Cup and the Intima, which are reusable products that besides the box they come in have no waste, and despite how it may seem, are extremely comfortable (I promise, it doesn’t take long to get used to).
It has not been easy to make all of these changes, and I am still finding ways that I can reduce my own waste. I encourage you to reflect on your own habits, and see if there are easy ways that you can help too!