We humans consume and dispose of far too much. This much is clear. Now is the time to take a stand to reduce our impact on this beautiful planet of ours in order to preserve it for generations to come. It's a tall task, for sure, but if we face it collectively and each take the time to do our small part, we will, if nothing else, slow down the negative impact we are having on the environment.
Living a more eco friendly life doesn't mean you have to change to entirely hemp clothing and only bathe with rainwater. There are a lot of small, yet mindful changes that you can incorporate into your current lifestyle that can have a big effect on the future, so let's discuss some easy ways to live more eco friendly.
1. Carry reusable bags
A lot of grocery stores have stopped offering disposable plastic bags and are working to encourage bringing your own bags or purchasing their reusable ones. This is a great step in the right direction, and hopefully more governments and stores will start offering and enforcing this as well. At Eldon's Supermarket on Roatan, you can purchase their reusable bags (we currently have about 30 because we went through a period of time where we kept forgetting to bring our own bags and they are actually wildly useful) or request a box in lieu of plastic bags, which is also an easy way for them to get rid of all the boxes that their produce arrived in.
Now, no matter where in the world I'm at, I always make sure to keep at least one reusable bag with me (at home, it's for groceries, on holiday it's for unnecessary window shopping!). There are all sorts of fun styles available these days that are incredibly space efficient, and they often are easier to carry than disposable plastic bags because you can actually carry them on your shoulder. If I'm just buying one thing that I can just throw into my bag, I'll forgo using a bag altogether.
2. Your new life partner is a water bottle
Constantly buying bottles of water is both wasteful and expensive. Buy a water bottle that you can use for a long time and refill as you go with tap water (if it's safe to drink), filtered water (you can keep a Brita in your fridge) or from a water fountain. You can get different styles to match whatever your type is. There are some great foldable (or are they rollable?) water bottles out there that are super space efficient when they're empty, insulated stainless steel bottles so that you don't get the dreaded "sweating", and even water bottles with filters in them. A good water bottle will cost you between $20 and $40 and can last you years, and if you use it 10 or 20 times in lieu of buying bottled water, you've already broken even! And before you get all self-righteous about only being able to drink Swiss mountain water spiked with angels' tears, let me remind you that Dasani is just glorified tap water.
3. Say "no" to styrofoam
Is it weird that I go to my favorite restaurants with tupperware in tow? Maybe, but I get to go home with a box full of goodies, a clean conscience, and the restaurant doesn't have to waste a container on me! Win-win-win, guys. I obviously don't take tupperware to every single restaurant we go to, but if I know they have big portions and I know for a fact that I will be taking food home, then it's pretty easy to just bring along a box. Container technology has come quite far, so there are a lot of foldable silicone styles out there that will flatten when empty so you don't have to cart around bulky containers everywhere.
An even greater upside to using containers is that you don't have that awkward spillage that happens when you carry the styrofoam box funny and all the sauces spill out. So many wins!
4. No straws for you!
In the United States alone, we use and dispose of 500 million straws a day. That is insanity. Madness. Straws and other small plastic items aren't contained very easily and will inevitably end up in our oceans, where they will be consumed by marine animals, and even sometimes get lodged in their body parts (remember the video of the turtle with a straw painfully stuck in its nose?). All it takes is the very simple request of "no straw, please", and you can help prevent the death of turtles, dolphins and sea birds. You can do eet!
5. Be mindful
Becoming more eco conscious and lowering your waste all comes down to mindfulness. There are so many things you can do to help the planet, and most of it takes little to no effort. Take that extra second to pack a fork with your lunch. Be okay that it will take an extra few seconds to wash your resuable container. Learn to live with the extra ounce that your resuable bag will weigh. It doesn't take much effort on your part, but if everyone in the world took a little more effort, it would make an enormous impact on the planet, and our future.
So there we are, our five easy ways to live a more eco friendly life. We have very little time and a long way to go to reverse our detrimental impact on the planet, but I believe that if everyone plays a small part it in, we can create an enormous movement.