Tag Archives: eco-friendly tips

5 Simple Ways to Reduce Dangerous Toxins in Your Home

After a long day, there?s nothing like taking a deep breath and relaxing at home. But don?t get too comfortable. That air you?re breathing might be making you sick.

We face countless pollutants each day, and some of the worst can be in our home environments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports indoor air often has more pollution than outdoor air, even in populated cities. And because many of us spend the majority of our days indoors, that can pose some serious health hazards.

So what can you do to make your indoor air cleaner? Here are five simple and inexpensive ways to reduce indoor toxins and breathe a little easier in your home.

1. Plant some houseplants

Plants are nature?s air filter. And despite mixed research on their effectiveness of reducing indoor air pollution, one thing is for sure: It can?t hurt to bring some greenery into your space.

According to Healthline, plants remove toxins either by trapping them in their tissue or breaking them down into benign byproducts. It?s ideal to have one potted plant per 100 square feet indoors. That might not be enough to totally clear the air of toxins, but it will provide some mild air-scrubbing effects.

Besides reducing toxins, indoor plants also can help make you an overall healthier person. For one, the humidity plants release boosts our ability to fight allergies and infections. Plus, research has shown being around plants makes people calmer, more focused and generally happier.

2. Invest in an air purifier

There are many shapes and sizes of indoor air purifiers. And unless you have a health issue that necessitates an industrial-sized unit, you likely can reap some benefits from the cheaper, portable purifiers.

The devices work to remove particle and gaseous pollutants in the air, though they have their limitations, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For instance, purifiers with mechanical filters are good at capturing airborne particles; however, larger particles tend to settle in the environment before the filter can pick them up. Thus, using an air purifier should put a dent in your home?s pollutants, but it likely won?t be enough for completely healthy air.

3. Increase ventilation

Image credit: Blair_witch/Thinkstock

Opening a window for some “fresh air” is a pretty appropriate description. Building materials, furniture, cleaning products and moisture are just a few sources of indoor air pollution. And your home needs a way for those to vent out before they accumulate to dangerous levels.

According to the World Health Organization, improving ventilation has been estimated to reduce lung-related illnesses by up to 20 percent. Increasing ventilation also promotes moisture control, which helps to hinder mold growth, according to the CDC. So open your doors and windows whenever possible, and use outdoor-venting fans to maintain a healthy air flow.

4. Limit off-gassing

You spend months picking out a new couch. You get it home, position it exactly where you want it, sit down and take a breath. What?s that smell? Toxic compounds.

Many new products we bring into our homes ? including furniture, carpets and construction materials ? contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. And those VOCs tend to evaporate, or off-gas, into the air, sometimes over the course of years. Pressed-wood products are major off-gassing offenders, often containing formaldehyde among other chemicals. According to the EPA, formaldehyde can cause eye, nose, throat and skin irritation, as well as cancer.

To combat off-gassing, limit the products you buy with VOCs. Shop for secondhand furniture that has completed its off-gassing process. And if you must bring something with VOCs into your home, allow it to off-gas with plenty of ventilation.

5. Remove your shoes

Your mom was right when she told you to take off your shoes at the door. It?s not just muddy footprints you?re tracking in. Think of everywhere you go in a day. During your trek, your shoes can pick up bacteria, parasites, allergens, pesticides and countless other nasty materials.

One study found the outside of shoes averaged 421,000 units of bacteria, including E. coli. According to the study, the bacteria could survive on shoes over long distances, and they would easily transfer to previously uncontaminated floors. But there?s a silver lining. Washing the shoes according to manufacturer instructions reduced the bacteria by 99 percent. In between washes, just leave those dirt traps at the door.

Related Stories:

7 Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
6 Houseplants That Will Thrive in Your Bathroom
20 Houseplants That Clear Toxins From Your Home

Main image credit: imnoom/Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Simple Ways to Reduce Dangerous Toxins in Your Home

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This Hack Makes Composting at Home So Much Easier

Most people new to composting find that there are a number of nuisances that are difficult to avoid. Odor, fruit flies, countless trips to the bin in the backyard…in the beginning, all this can be enough to make even the most dedicated want to give up.

But what would you say if I told you there was a single solution that could take care of all three of these problems? All you need is a freezer!

Stashing your food scraps in the freezer might sound weird, but it’s actually a great way to keep all those organic discards from ending up stinky and bug-ridden. Simply locate a bin (this could be an old coffee can, a 3-quart trash can, reusable silicon bags ? anything, really) that you don’t mind relegating to the freezer, and place it on a shelf where it can be easily accessed.

When the bin gets full, all you have to do is empty it in your pile and give your empty freezer bin a rinse. The organics will already be well on their way to decomposing and you’ll have been able to avoid the trek to the pile for at least a week, if not more!

What makes this method so great?

1. Minimal to no odor

Frozen organic matter does not interact with its environment the way it would were it on the kitchen counter. Open the freezer and all you’ll smell is icy freshness! Bonus tip: Struggling to keep everything tidy? Lay a flexible cutting board underneath your freezer bin to catch any escaped scraps.

2. Zero?pests

Common pests like fruit flies and maggots will steer clear of your freezer. They don’t want to be in there any more than you do!?Freezing scraps will also kill any insect larva that may be in the food.

3. A convenient location

It takes next to no effort to drop a banana peel or pile of carrot shavings into a bin just steps from where you created them. Keep your bin in the freezer and you won’t have to tromp out to the backyard every five minutes just to drop your scraps off for decomposition.

4. Quicker decomposition

Speaking of decomposition…did you know that the act of freezing actually breaks down the cell walls of organic material? It’s true! When that newly dumped bin of scraps thaws in your pile (or in your city’s pile), it’ll already be much closer to becoming the black gold you know it can be.

How to apply frozen scraps by composting method.

If you have a traditional pile:

Keep doing what you’re doing. Freezing kitchen scraps will help stretch the time between trips out to the compost pile. Sometimes that’s all the motivation you need!

If you?use bokashi:

Frozen scraps can be added to your bokashi bucket, no problem. Just make sure you’re still layering with “browns”?? a.k.a. dry, high-carbon materials like newspaper, brown paper bag shreds, sawdust, etc.

If you?send scraps out for collection:

Again, keep doing what you’re doing. Compost collectors won’t have any issue with frozen scraps. The only consideration here is that you get the bin out a few minutes ahead of pick-up time so you don’t have to struggle to dump a frozen-together lump of scraps into your collection bin.

If you have a worm bin / vermicomposter:

If you are using a vermicomposter to manage your kitchen scraps, adding the scraps directly to the bin as you make them may still be your best bet ? don’t want to overwhelm those worms! Still want to save scraps in the freezer? Just make sure you thaw them before adding them to the worm tray.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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This Hack Makes Composting at Home So Much Easier

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

Today, one of the primary focuses of work on climate change has less to do with conservation and more to do with the human heart. The truth is: people know the facts about climate change ? or they’re starting to ? but they just don’t care that much.

Research into the psychology of risk perception clearly demonstrates that simply knowing about potential danger, no matter how monumental, is likely to elicit only indifference?if it’s too abstract. A distant, impersonal threat?just isn’t scary enough; whereas, confronting an immediate threat?? say, a hungry?tiger for example ? would kick you into action. Right now, climate change doesn’t feel “it could ruin my life, if not kill me” personal.

I mean, let’s be real: can you name a single?way that climate change will seriously and negatively impact you ? you, personally ? in the next ten years? You probably can’t. Most people, even the most ardent of believers, can’t.

So, let me ask you this: do you feel that?same sort of blas? attitude bubbling up within you? Does climate change feel like a five-years-from-now problem? A decade-from now problem? A generation-from-now problem? You’re not alone.

But here’s the thing: you and I both live on streets in neighborhoods and communities ? not in the rainforest. We both care about the weather. We both want our food systems to stay healthy. We both want to keep our homes flood free, but keep our access to clean drinking water. Buying into the myths that “climate change is someone else’s problem,” or “climate change won’t affect me” puts these beautiful things at risk. And the reality is, climate change is?already affecting us. This is not tomorrow’s problem.

Here are just a few of the ways?climate change is worth your immediate attention.

Extreme weather events?are coming to your front door.

Extreme weather events like?tornadoes, hurricanes and widespread forest fires are becoming more common. In fact, the intensity, frequency and duration of North Atlantic hurricanes have all increased just since the 1980s. Tidal floods have also increased tenfold in several US coastal cities since the 1960s.

It’s getting hotter ? way hotter.

Average annual temperatures?in the United States have already increased by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit between 1901 and 2016. Cities are bearing the brunt of this, experiencing an increase in daytime temperatures up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. This is especially true in the Eastern and Southeastern United States.

Rainfall is more aggressive.

Rainfall in the Midwest, and the Northern and Southern Plains is increasing significantly, but much of the West, Southwest and Southeast is?getting drier, causing serious droughts. Heavy rainfall in the former areas is becoming more frequent, causing deadly flash floods and nutrient runoff, which affects water quality and is shutting down fisheries.

Sea levels are rising.

So far, the global sea level has already risen by about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began back in 1880. Scientists project that it will rise an additional 4 feet by 2100. That’s just around the corner! On a similar note, the arctic is likely to be completely ice free in summer before the middle of this century.

But you probably know this. Here are some even more specific ways climate change is affecting your daily life.

Beer is suffering.

First, many breweries are encountering shortages of fresh, clean water for brewing. Second, heavy rains in Australia and drought in England have damaged barley crops and hops crops. Your coffee supply is experiencing the same issues with production.

Grocery prices are spiking.

Climate change is affecting global agricultural supply. Extreme weather events area already severely damaging the food supply of African and Central America, causing civil unrest. Why? Staples of daily life are suddenly unaffordable.

Many homeowners can no longer insure their homes.

Faced with several rounds of losses due to severe storms, many insurers have been drastically altering their underwriting of homeowner policies. Premiums for those?who live in?South Carolina or?Florida, for example, have skyrocketed.

Our lakes and forests are disappearing.

Vast swaths of pine forest have been devastated by bark beetles and forest fires, thanks to rising global temperatures, and lakebeds across the United States are drying up. One third of the world’s major lakes and rivers are drying up, affecting water supplies for more than 3 billion people.

Now that’s personal.

Related Stories:

6 Surprising Ways Climate Change Impacts Health
How Climate Change is Bad For Our Pets
What You Can Eat to Fight Climate Change

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why Don’t More People Care About Climate Change?

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How Often Should You Clean Your Couch Fabric?

Everyone’s living room couch needs a good cleaning every now and then, but this is doubly true if you have pets that like to lounge on your furniture. Our couches often weather a lot, from spills and pet hair to everyday wear and tear. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your couch upholstery, you might be wondering if it’s time for a good clean.

Why You Need to Clean Your Couch Fabric

It’s important to clean your couch fabric every so often because, just as your clothes do, your couch is liable to pick up a variety of contaminants. Food, dirt, dust and grime can get trapped in the?woven threads?of your sofa, leading them to harbor microbes and bacteria. In addition to looking unsightly, a dirty couch can smell and can even spread the growth of bacteria in your home.

How Often to Clean

So, how often should you clean your couch??TODAY recommends doing a deep clean at least once a year. You can, of course, go to a professional, but many professional upholstery cleaners use toxic cleaning products that fans of natural alternatives probably wouldn’t like.

Instead, I recommend vacuuming your couch once a week and cleaning the fabric itself at least every two weeks, if not more often. Because you’ll be using more natural methods, it’s important to stay on top of your cleaning schedule.

Tips and Tricks

When you go to clean your sofa fabric, here’s what to do:

First, remove any washable fabric and throw it into the washing machine with your regular laundry detergent. Important: ONLY DO THIS if your couch fabric is machine washable. This should be clearly designated on the tag.
Next, any parts that can’t be washed in your machine or taken off of the couch should first be vacuumed, then cleaned. Running a vacuum cleaner over your fabric will pick up most?pet hair and food particles. Be sure to vacuum under cushions and between pillows. If you have any lingering odors, sprinkle some backing soda over the couch and allow it to sit for at least a few hours before vacuuming it up.
Finally, it’s time to wipe down the fabric itself. As long as your sofa’s upholstery tag doesn’t say that it needs to stay completely dry, you’re good to go ahead and use a clean sponge to wipe it down.

Related Articles:

My Hunt for a Chemical-Free Couch
Top 10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Clean the House
Are Green Cleaning Products Really Safe?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Couch Fabric?

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Gas Consumption

When it comes to eco-friendly living tips, few things are as important as reducing your gas consumption overall. We’re talking about gasoline here?not to be confused with natural gas, another resource that bears consideration.

When it comes to using less gas, some tips are straight-forward and common-sense, while others require a little more creativity to pull off. Here are my top seven tips for reducing your gas consumption.

Live Near Your Work

If you’re currently renting or if you’re considering moving, make it a priority to relocate your home near where you work. Commuting is one of those things that many of us see as a necessary evil, but the shorter you make your commute, the better. Not only will you waste less gas, you’ll enjoy a higher quality of life. If you work in a big city, take public transit to get to work each day. Your reduction in transportation costs will likely even out the higher rent you’ll be paying.

Clean Out Your Car

Extra weight in your car means that it takes more gas to haul you and your personal belongings around. If you have a lot of junk in your trunk, store it somewhere else.

Carpool … There’s An App for That!

Carpooling remains a fantastic way to reduce gas consumption. Think about it this way: If everyone in the US commuted with just ONE other person, we’d be reducing the fuel consumption burned during rush hour by half! Carpool with friends, coworkers and family whenever possible. Don’t know anyone going to the same part of town as you? Download Carpool by Waze, a handy app that lets you connect with fellow carpoolers.

Use Cruise Control

When you’re on the highway, use cruise control. This will help you avoid choppy breaking and accelerating as much as possible. Your car probably knows how to coast better than you do, and setting your car to cruise control will help you save gas in the process.

Learn to Coast

When cruise control doesn’t seem like a viable, safe or convenient option, learn how to coast. While driving, consciously make an effort to avoid breaking unless its absolutely necessary. Instead, if you see a red light up ahead or a car slowing down in front of you, let your foot off the gas right away, giving yourself plenty of time to slow down without the break. By avoiding unnecessary breaking, you will help reduce your need to accelerate later and you’ll be saving gas by doing so.

Don’t Idle for more than 1 Minute

If you pull up to wait for a friend or to drop something in a mailbox, turn your car off if you believe you’ll be stationary for more than one minute. Idling burns gas with little to no return on investment.

Use the A/C on Low

You might think that opening your windows is a more eco-friendly option than using air conditioning, but that’s not necessarily the case. According to Cars Direct, having your windows open while driving reduces fuel efficiency by making your car less aerodynamic. If it’s cool outside, windows up and no A/C is the way to go. But if it’s hot outside and you need to keep things cool, roll up your windows and use A/C on a low setting.

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly
5 Ways Drivers Can Safely Share the Road With Cyclists
Why You Shouldn’t Drive in the Left Lane

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Gas Consumption

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Is Eco Toilet Paper Worth the Extra Cost?

I try to be conscious about the products I buy. I look for items that are recycled and plastic-free. I recycle aggressively. I research the environmental impact of my favorite brands. But as I sat down on the porcelain throne the other day, I realized that I don’t hold my toilet paper to the same high standards.

I’ve never abandoned the septic-safe, economical, white Scott toilet paper I grew up using. What a waste! Think of all those virgin forests that had to be cut down just so I could have a clean bum.

So I delved into the eco-toilet paper market and was surprised to find that it actually isn’t much more expensive. I also realized?that there are a lot of reasons why we should all switch over to greener toilet papers?beyond the general ‘saving trees’ idea.

6 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Eco Toilet Paper

Here are six environmental issues to consider when it comes to buying toilet paper, plus a breakdown of five popular eco toilet paper brands.

1. How many trees were cut down?

To make that plush toilet paper we know and love, companies are clear-cutting forests, contributing to global deforestation. Is it worth chopping down all those trees just so we can clean our butts? Absolutely not.

Rather than buying virgin or partially recycled toilet paper products, look for those made with 100 percent recycled paper or, even better, bamboo fiber. Bamboo is a super sustainable, fast-growing plant that can keep up with our incessant butt-wiping.

2. If the paper is recycled, are BPAs present?

Yes, BPAs have found their way into recycled toilet papers.

During the paper recycling process, most plants use thermal paper which is the source of endocrine-disrupting BPA. As a result,?Research?has shown that the shocking majority (80 to 99 percent) of recycled toilet paper products contain very small amounts of BPA–even uber-clean companies like Seventh Generation, who, in their defense, are?working to make a change.

Do we want BPAs anywhere near our most sensitive areas? No way! But don?t hop back on the Charmin Soft-and-Strong train just yet. Bamboo-fiber plys?may be the more sustainable and health-conscious solution, as bamboo is not water intensive, is easily renewable, and is not tainted with BPAs during the manufacturing process.

3. Are the rolls wrapped in plastic?

Most toilet paper comes wrapped in a thin sheath of practically non-recyclable plastic that will sit in our landfills and oceans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Don’t let the recycling symbol fool you. This plastic must be recycled separately at special facilities.

It is an utter waste. If you are trying to reduce your plastic consumption–but aren?t into wiping your butt with cloth rags–look for companies who?wrap their rolls in paper (ideally recycled paper). It?s definitely a big step above plastic and can be easily recycled when you’re done.

4. Is there a cardboard core?

Most toilet papers have a cardboard core, even eco-friendly brands. Surprisingly,?Scott?s is one of the few brands I could find that sells a tube-free version of their popular, inexpensive toilet paper.

According to?Scott?s online calculator, I will toss (ahem, recycle) almost 6,000 cardboard tubes in my lifetime–definitely a waste. Yes, this Scott?s product is still not recycled, is bleached, and is dressed up in plastic, but it?s a start for more sustainable mainstream toilet paper.

Otherwise, if your t.p. comes with a cardboard core, make sure to toss it in your recycling bin or reuse those tubes.

5. Is the toilet paper bleached, dyed, or scented?

Most toilet paper is whitened so as to look more appealing to the consumer. To do this, companies use elemental chlorine. There is a worry that chlorine’s dangerous byproducts, like carcinogenic?dioxin, will steadily accumulate in our bodies over time as a result of long-term exposure to bleached items.

While this is more concerning for products like tampons, which?stay in contact with sensitive areas for hours on end, it is something to be aware of if you are deciding between bleached and unbleached toilet papers.

As for dyes and fragrances, it’s best to avoid these as they are usually mystery chemical cocktails. We?have no way of knowing what is inside since companies are not required to disclose fragrance?information to the consumer.

6. How much does it cost?

Believe it or not, not all eco toilet papers are expensive. They might?cost a few cents more per roll, but a few dimes?is worth it when it comes to treating the environment with respect. Plus,?if you buy your paper in bulk, costs go down considerably. Either way, eco toilet paper is absolutely worth the modest extra cost.

Eco Toilet Paper Review

Here are the most eco-friendly t.p.s for your buck, ranked.

1.?Who Gives a Crap, premium line

$1.08 per roll, free shipping for 48 roll pack.

Soft and strong three-ply, made from sustainable bamboo, fun,?whimsical, and plastic-free, this brand is everything toilet paper should be.

You should know that the paper?is gently bleached to make it more appealing for those just entering the eco-realm. But you should also know that?they also donate 50 percent of their profits to help build toilets for those in need. They?ve donated around a million dollars to date and are saving trees and water in the process!

2.?Tushy

$0.92 per roll, but shipping costs (out to Massachusetts) bump that up to $1.30 per roll for a single 36 roll pack.

This is another fun brand with a great sense of toilet humor.?Their?two-ply bamboo rolls are unbleached, plastic-free, dye-free, and BPA-free.

They are a little bit less plush than the Who Gives a Crap premium line, so if you like a slightly less plush, unbleached bamboo toilet paper, this is a winner.

3.?Who Gives a Crap, recycled

$1 per roll, free shipping for 48 roll pack.

While most recycled toilet papers contain BPAs, this one claims it doesn?t, although they can’t offer a 100 percent guarantee. It is also plastic-free, 100 percent recycled, and doing a world of good. Of course, it is carefully bleached, but it is also pretty affordable.

4.?Seventh Generation Unbleached

$0.83 per roll on Thrive Market, assuming free shipping.

Seventh Generation is a great company, but there are a lot of complaints about how rough this toilet paper is. If you like a rough paper and care about your t.p., this one is?unbleached, 100 percent recycled, and comes from a company with very good intentions.

5.?Thrive Market Bamboo Hybrid

$1.70 per DOUBLE roll, assuming free shipping.

Thrive Market has merged recycled paper with bamboo fiber to create a soft, strong, and eco-conscious?toilet product. They also claim their surprisingly white rolls to be completely chlorine-free. They are packaged in plastic film and seem a little costly, depending whether or not the rolls are true double rolls.

Honorable mention: Scott Tube Free

About $0.58 per roll.

It?s widely available and a step in the right direction. If you?ve been a lifelong Scott user, are on a super tight budget, or?aren?t a fan of change, this is an easy-to-find, super cheap, and slightly greener option. Small shifts do matter.

Related on Care2

Most Tampons Are Toxic. Here’s What to Look Out For.
Alcohol Makes PMS Worse. Drink this Mocktail Instead!
Your Nightlight May Increase Your Depression Risk (& What to do About It)

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Is Eco Toilet Paper Worth the Extra Cost?

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5 Easiest Ways to Get Started With a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Living completely zero-waste may sound extremely daunting. Even if you don?t consider yourself a huge waste of resources, it?s hard to avoid that looming trash bag that stares at you every few days. And recycling, while a better option, isn?t always the best alternative: According to some reporters? analyses, a lot of what we ?recycle? actually ends up going into landfills.

A lot of this may actually be out of your control; while San Francisco is able to recycle or compost about 80 percent of its trash, only 10 percent of Chicago trash gets recycled. Many buildings either don?t offer recycling services, or find that recycling bins are too contaminated with non-recyclable materials to salvage.

The best way to reduce your impact is to not waste in the first place. If you?re ready to get started with a zero-waste lifestyle, here are five beginner-friendly tips to help you do it.

Basic Composting

The first step to getting started with your zero-waste lifestyle is to practice basic composting. Composting really isn?t as difficult as it sounds. All you need to do is set up a bin in your backyard filled with soil. Sprinkle some grass, weeds, tree bark, leaves and branches in it, and mix it well. Add a little water to make it moist.

Now, as the week goes on, place items such as food scraps, paper towels (check to make sure your brand is compostable), egg cartons and other organic materials into the bin. Mix the soil regularly and keep it moist, continuing to add additional green and brown plants (again, grass and branches) into the mixture. At the end of a week or two, either have a composting service pick it up or use it to fertilize your garden. Or, just scatter it around the yard ? it?s just soil!

Shopping in Bulk

Next, commit to shopping in bulk. No, we?re not talking about Costco here. We?re talking about buying items that are often packaged in plastic, such as nuts, seeds, grains, legumes and candies, from bulk containers at your local Whole Foods or health foods store.

Things like popcorn, lentils, rice, flour, almonds, chocolates and quinoa are often staples items you can buy in bulk. Fill up a glass container in the store rather than using a plastic bag to transport your goods to your home.

Eliminate Packaging

It may seem harmless, but shopping online creates a huge uptick in wasted resources. Even ?sustainably packaged? products require using cardboard and plastic for recycling ? and as we?ve discussed, that?s not always a great option. Unless you can?t find the item you need in a local store, pick things up in person.

Eat In Rather than Taking Away

To-go containers are a huge drain on resources. Going out to eat regularly isn?t necessarily a bad thing (you?re unlikely to buy food you won?t eat that ends up going to waste!) but eat in the restaurant rather than taking away. And bring your own containers for leftovers!

Reusable Shopping and Home Goods Bags

Finally, use a reusable shopping bag every time you go to the store. But take it a step further: Ditch the produce bags in favor or reusable alternatives, or forget about them altogether. Your apple has traveled many miles and interacted with countless hands along the way; it?s unlikely that putting it in a plastic bag now is going to make it any ?cleaner!?

Related Articles:

3 Ways a Zero Waste Lifestyle Improves Your Health
How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person
3 Ways Minimalism Will Improve Your Life

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Easiest Ways to Get Started With a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

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8 Easiest Hacks to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption

Plastic is literally everywhere. Shopping bags, toothbrushes, backpacks, shoes, wrappers, you name it. Is it even possible to avoid all of it while enjoying a normal social life?

We all know that plastic is no good for the environment, but it can be a real challenge to get away from it.

Rather than sitting there with your head spinning, it?can be?less stressful?to just give in?everyone else uses plastic, why not me, too? ? ? ? ? ??

But reducing your plastic consumption doesn?t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. By shifting your daily habits slightly, you can keep a lot of single-use plastics out of our landfills, waterways and oceans.

Here are a handful of?habits to leave behind for a cleaner planet (and body).

1. Say no to plastic straws.

If there is a piece of plastic pollution that is entirely pointless, it is the plastic straw. The straw?doesn?t have a reasonable purpose. It is simply an unnecessary convenience that ends up painfully jammed in the noses of sea turtles.

And guess what–Americans use 500 million straws every single day! Do your environment a favor and refuse the straw. Just sip your drinks instead, like a regular human.

Of course, if you?re a major straw fanatic, you do have other options. Paper straws are growing in popularity, as are edible straws. And of course, there is the reusable metal, glass, or bamboo straw if you’re a true aficionado.

Let your straw be your passion, not an environmental inconvenience.

2. Abandon to-go cups and bottles.

Not only are plastic bottles and to-go cups horrible for the environment, but the chemicals that leach out of them are horrible for your health. But there’s an easy fix.

If you’re staying at a cafe, ask for a?glass?or mug. If you’re bringing your drink on the run, just bring a reusable bottle or thermos with you. It’s really not difficult once it becomes habitual.

Plus, many stores offer a small discount for customers who bring their own cups. Sure, it’s just a few cents, but it can add up over time, especially if you get a few iced coffees on the go?every day.

3. Stop buying single-use coffee pods.

Speaking of coffee, coffee pods are a big no-no. They are single-use and all plastic. Not only do these build up fast in landfills, but the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the hot water when you’re making your coffee. Ew.

But here’s the big issue: almost 1 out of every 3 Americans own a single-cup coffee machine, meaning pods aren’t going away anytime soon. Luckily?there is a?healthier option–reusable pods.

Buying a reusable pod isn?t expensive (even a plastic-free one), and you?ll no longer be restricted to the variety packs of manufacturers. You can fill your pod with the best direct trade, organic coffee you can find. It will be a lot fresher than the single use pods, too.

4. You don’t need plastic baggies or plasticwrap.

For years I felt guilty about buying and using non-recyclable plasticwrap and baggies. But then I discovered other solutions. Seriously, I?haven’t purchased plasticwrap for 4 years.

For one, try reusing the produce bags from the grocery store instead of buying plastic snack baggies. Ideally, you’d cut those produce bags out at some point, too, since they’re plastic, but for now we are taking baby steps.

For covering or storing food, in lieu of plasticwrap, try securing?parchment paper with a rubber band?or invest in sustainable and reusable wrap like Bee’s Wrap. They wraps are both reusable and way more environmentally sustainable.

People have existed for millennia without plasticwrap. We don’t need it now.

5. Watch out for your cotton swabs.

There are two types of cotton swabs: those with plastic handles and those with paper handles.

Neither can be recycled, so don’t even try. But believe it or not, cotton swabs with the cardboard handle can be composted, so opt for these if you have a compost bin. Even if you don’t compost, just stop buying the plastic ones.

If?anyone discovers cotton swabs that use 100 percent recycled materials in their handles, let us?know. Cotton swabs aren’t a very eco-friendly product, so use them only when necessary.

6. Choose solid personal care products.

Think of all the personal?products?you buy that come in plastic containers.

Reduce that number by buying more dry?items, like a bar of soap (rarely packed in plastic) instead of a liquid body wash. Or swap out your liquid laundry detergent in a plastic jug?for a box of?cardboard-clad powdered. Ladies, consider?tampons?without?the plastic applicator or even a reusable menstrual cup.

While this doesn’t work for all products, you can cut out some of the wasteful plastic packaging in your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room by being a bit more aware of what you’re consuming.

7. Ditch disposable razors.

Not only are?disposable razors?not ideal for shaving, they are also pretty wasteful in the plastic department.

In the US, 200 billion plastic razors end up in the trash every year. Even if the plastic handle isn’t necessarily disposable,?the blades are loaded with plastic, and there is just no good way to recycle either when you’re done with them.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a metal safety razor. The handles range in price from $20 to $100+, but remember that it is a one-time purchase. It’s also a lot cheaper in the long run since the blades come in 100 packs for less than a Hamilton.

And of course, the shave is way better (for both men and women).

8. B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bag)

And, of course, always bring your own shopping bag. Plastic shopping bags are one of the biggest pollutants, and they are really challenging to recycle in a facility. They are small enough to fit on your keychain nowadays, so no excuses.

These are all really easy lifestyle habits to change, and they pay off environmentally in a big, big way. How are you going to reduce you plastic consumption this month? Share your goals with the community below. ? ??

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Images via Thinkstock.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8 Easiest Hacks to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption

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5 Ways to Green Your Finances

If you’re making an effort to be more environmentally conscious, you probably already know that frugality and sustainability often go hand in hand. Wasting less usually means saving more, so by embarking on a more eco-friendly lifestyle, you’re probably greening your finances too. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t extra opportunities to be green in your financial life.

Here are?five tips for greening your finances ? the planet and your wallet will thank you!

Go Paperless

Going paperless?may seem obvious, but it’s the number one piece of eco-friendly financial advice for a reason. By opting out of paper bank statements, bills and other financial communications, you’ll save a whole lotta trees because of the envelopes, paper and stamps necessary to pay via snail mail. Have paperless statements emailed to you, and pay your bills with your bank’s mobile banking app.

Use Apps to Pay People Back

If you go out for dinner with friends or family (or owe them money for any reason), pay them back with an app like PayPal or Venmo, rather than using paper-intensive checks and cash.

Use an Affiliate Credit Card or Donation Program

Charities like the?The Nature Conservancy and The Sierra Club offer branded credit cards that donate a portion of your proceeds to the causes they support. Another option is to use a service like Amazon Smile. By selecting a charity ahead of time, you can designate that a portion of every order you place through Amazon Smile will be donated to the charity of your choice. However, there’s a caveat with the latter option… (keep reading).

Shop Brick and Mortar

Although Amazon Smile is great for the instances where you absolutely need to order online, it’s not the greenest way to shop, as Amazon often uses a lot of unnecessary packaging that’s horrible for the environment. Shop Amazon Smile when absolutely necessary, but otherwise, go to brick and mortar stores that offer products with as little packaging as possible.

Related: Ways to Reuse Shipping Boxes

Invest in Green Stocks

Finally, show your support for sustainable initiatives by investing in socially responsible investments. These kinds of options?are stocks and mutual funds that back sustainability-focused companies and initiatives.

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Green Your Diet and Save Money
10 Best Foods to Buy in Bulk to Save Money
10 Tips for the Thermostat: Your Key to Savings

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Ways to Green Your Finances

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Natural Stain Removers (and Why You Should Use Them)

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Natural Stain Removers (and Why You Should Use Them)

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