Written by Cat Hickox, Social Media & Marketing Intern, Texan by Nature
Have you ever found yourself wanting to live more sustainably but unsure of where to start? You’re not alone. Our earth is more represented than ever, in the news, in media, on product packages… It’s easy to feel energized toward the movement of living eco-friendly without really feeling prepared to make the leap. At Texan by Nature, we recognize the impact that every single person can make. That’s why we’re kicking off our #TxN5WayFriday series, providing weekly insight on being Texan by Nature.
One of the biggest negative impacts of individuals in America is waste production. In fact, the U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world. While recycling and composting are good alternatives to landfilling, minimizing the amount of waste produced in the first place is much more effective in reducing negative impact. Small changes can make a big difference. Here are 5 ways to reduce your waste.
1. Switch to reusable containers
If you’re like me, you’re lucky to have your coffee poured before it’s time leave for work, much less finished. Ditching disposable to-go coffee cups for a trusty reusable tumbler is a great way to cut a chunk out of the 80 million single-use cups Americans throw away every year. Once you’ve mastered that habit, bring the change from your morning coffee to all three meals. When picking up take-out, ask the restaurant to pack it in your own containers. Lots of establishments are joining the campaign to reduce restaurant waste. The University of Texas is even incentivizing it with their Eco2Go program. After adopting reusable containers into your eating habits, try incorporating them into your shopping habits. The next time you’re grocery shopping, consider buying in bulk and filling up glass jars with items like rice and beans. Central Market has an expansive bulk food selection, including candies and spices, that will make you feel better about buying a pound of chocolate covered gummy bears.
2. BYOB (bring your own bag)
The United States alone uses 14,000,000,000 single-use plastic shopping bags every year. That’s fourteen billion, y’all. A simple, easy way to reduce your contribution to this number is by opting to use canvas and string bags for your grocery shopping. Not only are these canvas bags better for the environment, they’re more durable than paper or plastic bags (and much cuter, too)! Some grocery stores like HEB even sell them in-store.
3. Try an online newspaper subscription
We’ve all been there: casually perusing Facebook, scrolling through cute dog videos and sweet family photos, when suddenly appears an article shared from an old high school friend with a ridiculous, shocking headline from ThisCantPossiblyBeARealNewsWebsite.com. In the age of media oversaturation, it’s increasingly difficult to discern the validity of information, and therefore credited newspapers are increasingly appealing. Unfortunately, physical print newspapers can cause significant harm to the environment. Thinking twice about subscribing to the daily paper can make a big difference in your carbon footprint. In fact, eliminating just over 1,200 newspapers each year can reduce carbon emissions by 1 ton. Thankfully, most news outlets offer an online subscription, usually at a much lower price than a paper subscription. Getting The Dallas Morning News online will cost you less than $3 a week. Pick your favorite paper and go digital, even if you mostly use the subscription to do the crossword (guilty).
4. Make your own household cleaners
Two words: bleach headache. So much of what’s contained in traditional household cleaners is insanely toxic for our bodies, in fact, about as toxic as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Regular exposure to these chemicals can cause cancer, birth defects, and a whole lot of other things nobody wants to put themselves at risk for. The same chemicals that harm us also harm the Earth. You may already be using natural products for these reasons, but if you’re feeling a bit crafty you can take it a step further by making your own household cleaners. Not only does this reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals you expose yourself to, it also diminishes the amount of plastic you would use by repeatedly buying cleaning products, even natural ones. It’s cheaper, too!
5. Sew it, don’t throw it
I’m a musician, and late last year I went on my first tour. It brought about many lessons, one being always bring spare clothes for the gig, which I learned when my pants ripped right down the back just an hour before my show. I was out of town, and had nothing else to wear. Thankfully, my mom, a master seamstress, was around and was able to get me patched up in time. Truthfully, had it not been for my lack of options, I would’ve probably just thrown the pants out. I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve since learned that 84% of unwanted clothes end up in landfills. While donating old clothing is certainly more ethical than throwing it out, it’s fairly likely to end up in the same place. A cheaper, more convenient, and more environmentally-friendly course of action is to repair and reuse clothes. Even the fits that you think are going out of style may come back in!
Texans know better than anyone how important it is to take care of our beautiful environment. That’s what makes us Texan by Nature! It may seem overwhelming to make all these lifestyle changes at once, but ultimately, every step you take toward helping the planet is a meaningful one, so appreciate the progress you make. The Earth sure does!