Three Eco-Impactful Solutions for 2023!

If you are anxious about the climate forecast – and anyone with a pulse should be – there are three habits that you can change right now that could have a huge impact on the environment. We all want solar on our roof, or an electric car with a 350 mile range. Some of the big solutions feel remote to most of us – like getting off of oil and natural gas. I promise, these solutions will be more and more accessible over time. But in this moment, adjusting three consumer habits, can yield huge environmental benefits.

These three behaviors collectively can seriously move the needle on Climate Change:

Go Tree-free

Ditch Single-Use Plastics

Compost Your Food Waste

Go Tree-Free

I know that we all want to save the forests. There is absolutely nobody I know who is hoping to destroy giant, old growth trees. Here’s the catch, many of these folks are the Costco customers buying 12 pack bundles of Kirkland or Bounty paper towels, and Charmin cushy 3-ply toilet paper – made with 100% virgin tree fiber. These same eco-woke people are complicit in the tree-to-toilet pipeline. It’s never been easier to choose recycled content paper products, unless you only shop at Costco, and yet we wear blinders to the connection between our environmentally crucial forests and wiping up a spill – or our tush.

Most grocery stores have at least one option of 100% post consumer recycled paper. There are any number of online stores that will send you a box with a years supply of toilet paper and tissues! Cloud Paper, Reel Paper, and Public Goods for example. And most online brands carry both 100% recycled content or bamboo fiber toilet paper. I can recommend Who Gives a Crap (Certified B Corp) post consumer recycled paper products. They carry bamboo fiber products as well. Check out this previous post comparing recycled vs. bamboo paper products.

Switching to cloth napkins is an obvious tree-free solution, and over time, it’s more cost effective. They mostly catch crumbs, so washing after every use isn’t always necessary. If you can only abide by disposable paper napkins, be sure that they are 100% recycled content and are included in your compost bin. All soft paper can be composted.

 Swedish dishcloths are a fantastic replacement for paper towels and synthetic sponges. They are made from organic cotton and cellulose. One Swedish dishcloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels absorbing 20x its weight. Swedish dishcloths are more hygienic than sponges because they won’t crumble or pill – and they air dry quickly, so they resist breeding bacteria or odor. They can be washed and reused 200 times!


Ditch Single-Use Plastics

Eliminating most single-use plastic is achievable – stop buying beverages in a plastic bottle. There are any number of reusable bottles that you can incorporate into your routine. Glass, stainless steel, ceramic lined stainless, collapsible silicone – and if you must, polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). This goes for to-go coffee cups (Starbucks) as well, which aren’t recyclable because they’re lined with a plastic film. Just get a reusable cup. 85% of single-use plastic is ultimately not recycled.

Plastic to-go cutlery is easily replaced with a reusable cutlery pack that takes absolutely zero space in a purse, bag, or backpack.

Buy a chrome ‘forever’ razor. Get a menstrual cup, or at least use only non or cardboard applicator tampons. Buy bamboo toothbrushes and hair brushes.

Zip-close plastic bags need to go the way of the dinosaurs. Pronto! There are many solutions for this wasteful, destructive product. Silicone zip-close bags are easy to find in stores like Target or Whole Foods.

Silicone Zip-Close bag

They are durable, freezable, microwaveable, and non-toxic. They cost a bit more up front, but when  compared to what you’re spending on the disposable version, you’ll make the switch. Beeswax wraps are also a great solution for on-the-go sandwiches and snacks, produce, and cheeses. And old fashioned, paper sandwich/snack bags are so useful, as well as being recyclable and compostable.

As for the ubiquitous, plastic packaging in grocery stores – it can be tricky. Why is EVERYTHING in a soft plastic pouch these days?

Do your best to buy in cardboard, paper, metal and glass as much as possible – even if that product costs a few cents more. Nobody is more practical than me, but I weigh the cost to the environment when making these decisions. And the bonus to buying in glass is you have a ‘forever’ storage container! 

If you have a favorite item that is environmentally irresponsibly packaged, let the company know! Start a letter campaign and encouraged other like-minded friends and family to participate. Don’t underestimate your power as a consumer!

Recycle Your Food Waste!

It cannot be stressed enough: rotting food waste contributes 8% -10% of global greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere. This number does not include the carbon and resource footprint of farming, refrigeration, and transport of that food product.

We not only must lower our food waste footprint as a country, but also recycle all organic materials back to the earth. ‘Organics’ simply means materials that were once alive: Paper, food scraps, livestock manure, cotton, plants and plant fiber, wood… .

If you don’t have a compost solution readily available to you, some options exist. 

Curbside Compost

More and more compost collection organizations are popping up across the country, like Curbside Compost in Fairfield CT. A collection bucket is delivered to you weekly or bi-weekly for a fee, and they pick up your scraps. For so many urban and suburban dwellers, this is a great solution. Most of these collectors offer compost for your garden/plants for participating. Green Markets in both urban and rural areas often have an organics collection at no cost. And some farms are happy to take your vegetable scraps. If you’re interested in composting your own scraps, review this post on home composting techniques.

Check your recycling collection center, ie. Transfer Station, in your area. Many have organics pick up on certain days. Again, there may be a fee involved. The transfer station near me charges $1 a bag.

Consider petitioning your town for an organics collection. You may need to do the research on compost facilities near you available to receive your food waste, but if there is enough of a buy-in from residents, you may be able to roll it into your garbage/recycling collection taxes.

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About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

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