The Earth. Our one and only home. More than 7.7 billion people live in this one place, yet we’re slowly depleting its resources and polluting our only habitat. While we may think we can’t do anything, we definitely can make a difference with this list of ten simple habits that we can integrate into our daily lives.
1. BYO container, bottle, bag
Make it a habit to bring your own coffee cup, water bottle or even shopping bag with you on a daily basis. This simple step will ensure that you’re not going to say yes to a single use plastic bag, a plastic bottle or to a takeaway coffee cup that will just end in landfill. Single use plastics clog up landfills and potentially can end up in oceans, where they will stay for centuries to come, thanks to their non-biodegradable properties.
2. Reusable and energy efficient alternatives
Replace single use items in your life with reusable options. Here at BuyMeOnce, we stock items from period pads, cups, straws, food wraps and even reusable trash bags. Consider energy efficient alternatives such as this LED lighting by Plumen, which consume up to 90% less power than normal light bulbs.
3. Buy Local
Why buy local products? Not only will it save the planet by requiring less transportation, but buying local will ensure that you’re supporting small, independent businesses that give back to the community by providing local jobs and boosting the local economy.
4. Go paperless
Opt out of unnecessary printouts by going paperless and choosing electronic options. From bills, receipts, to boarding passes, choose to save them on your phone or have them sent to your email address instead of mail or printouts. Also opt out of unnecessary junk mail and catalogues by posting a no junk mail or post no bill sign above your mailbox, or you can do so electronically through these databases.
5. Recycle, recycle, recycle
Cardboard boxes, paper, metal cans, plastic bottles – instead of throwing them away with your trash, make sure to segregate them and recycle. Read up on what you can recycle in your local facility, and make sure that your recyclables are rinsed and devoid of any food particles which could contaminate other items.
6. Consider secondhand
We’re firm believers in purchasing durable, long lasting items that can be patched up and repaired if they ever break apart. We’re also big believers in keeping an eye out for these tried and trusted brands in secondhand in thrift shops and online auction sites. Purchasing secondhand gives old products a new lease in life, and diverts items that are otherwise still usable from the landfill.
7. Use rechargeable batteries
Remote controls, toys, even your computer mouse – some still require batteries. Make the switch to rechargeable batteries for your household or office, such as this range by Eneloop.
8. Turn it off
We’ve all heard our parents saying it growing up. Turn off lights that we’re not using, turn off running water while brushing your teeth, and unplug appliances if they’re not being used, or if you’re going away on vacation. Appliances still draw power even when they’re plugged in and not turned on, and that includes chargers without devices attached to them. The Department of Energy estimates that a single family loses $100 a year on what they call ‘phantom loads’. Combatting this scary factor can be as easy as purchasing a strip switch and turning it off at the source when you’re going away or leaving the room.
9. Save your leftovers
The EPA estimated that in 2015 alone, Americans threw away 37.6 million tons of food waste. Food waste costs consumers and businesses money, not to mention the valuable wasted resources in a world where nearly one billion people are starving. With the right amount of preparation though, food waste can be a thing of the past. Plan ahead before going grocery shopping, store food properly, utilize your freezer and make sure you use up what you already have before going out to shop. Unused items in your fridge can be used for casseroles, stir-fries and salads, and the internet can be your trustworthy resource in finding creative ways to cook them. Know the difference as well between the terms ‘use-by’, ‘sell-by’ and ‘best-before’, and if you’re in restaurants, don’t be shy to ask for your leftovers to be packed for you to take home. Even better, make sure you get them to pack it in your reusable container.
10. Use that solar power
We’ve worshipped this star full of hot gas for millenniums. Without the sun, life on earth wouldn’t be possible. This infinite energy resource will always be around, yet we often take it for granted and forget to tap on its many uses. Harness the power of the sun and use it for drying clothes instead of using a dryer, which is one of the most wasteful appliances in a household after dishwashers and refrigerators. Look at purchasing outdoor equipment that uses solar power such as portable chargers or outdoor lamps. Consider making the switch to solar panels for your household, which can save you thousands of dollars in the long term.
Be a leader and encourage and inspire others to do so as well. Share your thoughts and other tips with everyone around you. Collectively, we can help save our Mother Earth and prevent further damage.
Jana Pleyto now lives in New York, but before that, she grew up in minimalistic, sustainable households in Melbourne and London. 'Mindful curation' may not have been a phrase then but it turns out she’s been living it all her life! She loves her KeepCup, GIR tools and Swedish Stockings, and she is Head of Brand Operations for BuyMeOnce USA.