I hate being the party pooper but, after reading in depth about the statistics of recycling, I realized we are living in a false utopia. I must admit that I’ve been naive thinking that this practice was making a big impact on the planet. Well, I recently found out that only 10% of the solid waste in the US is being recycled (funny enough I haven’t been able to find the worldwide percentage). I sort of have a clue where the other 90% ends up and it’s really upsetting, but what bothers me the most is the fact that a lot of us were fooled by this “trend”. Recycling should’ve never been the priority; instead we should’ve known that reducing is the real answer to the problem.
There’s an amazing concept called the “Three R’s” in which there’s a hierarchy when it comes to the them: REDUCE first, REUSE second, and RECYCLE third. This is the way it should be taught to us! Today, I want to focus on the most important: Reduction.
We need to understand two things: reduce should be applied to what’s being consumed by us and, to what’s being produced by the industries. The fabulous thing about it is that we (the consumers) get to dictate how much of X or Y is being produced: if there’s no demand, there’s no offer. Now that we are in the same page, I want to share with you those little extra things that I’ve doing to reduce my consumption of different items:
*Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
I say NO to single use plastic bottles: this is part or reducing 101. I’m sure you have seen hundreds of posts online regarding the ridiculous number of plastic bottles that end up in the oceans and other areas of the planet. Did you know that a single discarded plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose? We can’t continue these consumption habits and expect our planet to thrive; the solution is simple: get yourself a reusable water bottle. It will not only help the environment, but it also will help you to stay healthy. Here’s my advice when it comes to reusable water bottles:
- Get yourself a nice bottle, something that looks nice to you, or like Marie Kondo says, something that sparks joy. I got myself a beautiful glass bottle at Ulta (unfortunately they don’t sell it anymore :'( ). I love the way it looks so I feel I want to take it with me everywhere and that’s the goal!
- Get a small size bottle. I found out that this works best than having a big bottle. The idea is that you can take your bottle with you when you are out so something that can fit comfortably in your purse or your computer bag is the best.
Now days there are water fountains almost everywhere: grocery stores, shopping malls, office buildings, etc. Also, you can walk in at any Starbucks or coffee shop and ask them to refill your bottle. I’ve been doing this for a few months and I really don’t remember the last time that I bought a single use plastic bottle. Try it!
I’m reducing the use of toilet paper: we are ALL humans and we ALL go to the bathroom (I hope). A few months ago, I saw an add on social media about a bidet. I always wanted one because I’m obsessed with personal hygiene. However, I had this huge misconception that in order for me to have a bidet I had to install a new toilet and that seemed too much of a hassle. Long story short, I looked on amazon for a bidet, just out of curiosity, and found hundreds of affordable options that were super easy to install on a standard toilet. I purchased it, installed it, used it and today I can tell you that having a bidet has changed my life. Not only do I feel super clean after I use the restroom, but also it has reduced the use of toilet paper by more than 50%. Click here if you want to learn a little more about the statistics of bidets and toilet paper.
I say NO to plastic bags at the grocery store: and I’m not talking about the big bags where you pack your groceries because by now we should all know about reusable bags; I’m talking about those little green or white plastic bags that grocery stores provide for us to pack our fruits and veggies. Like most of the people, I used to pack every single fruit and vegetable in a plastic bag (I thought that I was doing good enough with getting the green “biodegradable” bags). Well, one day my mom made me realize that I shouldn’t be packing stuff like onions, garlic, oranges or bananas in bags. Why? Because we don’t eat their skin. So, I invite you to consider this next time you are grocery shopping… it’s okay for that pineapple to go straight in your shopping cart, as well as the avocados. For the rest of the items that you consider need to be packed, please get reusable mesh bags.
I’m limiting the purchases of fruits and vegetables that are wrapped/packaged in plastic: this one is very related to the one above. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing that single cucumber wrapped in plastic, or those asparagus sold in a Styrofoam tray with plastic on top. One time I even saw a picture of a peeled mandarin sold in a plastic container. Absurd! Fruits and veggies come in their own natural wrapping, and by the way, the fact that they are packed in plastic doesn’t mean that you don’t have to wash them properly when you get home. Let’s make better choices and stop getting those unnecessary packed items.
I say NO to tooth paste that comes in a box: A couple of months ago I saw a video called “Why toothpaste comes in a box“. The answer is simple: for absolutely NO REASON! Companies sell toothpaste in boxes just so it looks “nicer” when it’s being exhibited on the shelves. Have you ever thought how much waste those boxes generate? (especially now that we know that roughly 10% of the solid waste is being recycled). After learning about this I decided to go to the grocery store to find a brand that didn’t sell their toothpaste in a box. To my surprise I couldn’t find one -besides kids’ toothpaste. I went to a different store and same situation. After doing some research online I found out that there’s a few other alternatives like toothpaste in a jar or chewable toothpaste tablets that come in glass containers.
I’m reducing the use of feminine products: I hope that since it’s 2019 we are all okay when it comes to talking about women’s period. The number of tampons and pads that are being used and disposed every year is crazy. The worst part is that neither of these items are recyclable. Now days there’s other aternatives that are replacing tampons and pads, for example: menstrual cups, special underwear, etc. But one option that a lot of women are not aware of is birth control. I skip my period, and yes, it’s safe for me to do it (remember that our bodies are different so if you are considering an option like this please, talk to your doctor first). I do it for medical reasons (I have endometriosis) but one of the biggest advantages is that I’ve been able to reduce the use of feminine products by 100%.
This are just some things we can do in order to contribute to solutions. Our planet is going through a huge environmental crisis and it needs our help ASAP! As always, I hope this post is helpful. I would love to hear about your ideas related to personal reduction strategies, so feel free to leave them in the comments.