Thinking and acting sustainably can be easy — and every little bit makes a difference. We want to share some achievable ideas for getting more environmentally-conscious in your day-to-day life. This Earth Day, try to make at least one small change and stick with it. Whether you’re switching to more eco-friendly products or you’re learning about the different ways to recycle, it will be fun to reflect on how these little changes can make a big impact for when the next Earth Day rolls around.
Switch Over to Reusable Bags
Plastic bags can stick around for over 400 years before they begin to break down and can be very challenging to recycle. Go green and give back to Mother Earth by switching over to reusable cotton tote bags instead. You can be even more eco-friendly by using reusable shopping bags made from sustainable materials like cotton or bamboo instead of synthetic fibers.
Plastic bags are made from oil, so swapping those out for a reusable canvas bag also reduces the amount of non-renewable resources. Replacing grocery bags with a large canvas bag can help eliminate the amount of plastic bags you take home from each trip. This will reduce waste piling up in landfills or floating around streets and sidewalks. Try bringing your reusable bags to other stores too, and you can reduce plastic use during your trips to pick up clothes, personal products, and more. Carrying around a cute, printed or monogrammed tote bag instead of another boring plastic bag makes the decision to go more sustainable even easier.
Reduce Waste by Avoiding Plastic Water Bottles
Every year, more than one million plastic water bottles are used and thrown away. And usually, they’re only with us for a handful of minutes before they’re empty and thrown into the nearest recycling bin. The good news? You can be part of the solution by using reusable water bottles instead of disposable plastic ones.
Cutting back on plastic bottle usage helps reduce energy consumption as well. Producing plastic water bottles takes way more energy than filling up a bottle with tap or filtered water. Get more eco-minded this Earth Day and choose a reusable water bottle.
On top of the environmental benefits, sticking with reusable water bottles can have health benefits, too. Most plastic water bottles, notably softer plastics, can contain harmful, cancer-causing agents in them. Instead, opt for reusable water bottles that are BPA-free, like Shutterfly’s stainless steel water bottles. Making this switch is a great way to reduce your risk of being exposed to these harmful agents.
What can you do if you forget your reusable water bottle or don’t have one? Look for plastic alternatives before making your beverage purchase. If there are glass or aluminum drink options available, these are more environmentally-friendly choices than plastic. Aluminum and glass can be recycled much more efficiently, produce less harmful byproducts, and break down more easily if they end up in the landfill. Earth Day is a great time to start thinking about how to be more sustainable in your daily life, and this one switch can make a huge difference.
Replace Single-Use To-Go Cups
Start your morning right on Earth Day 2020 by using sustainable products like your favorite personalized photo mug or travel mug instead of a disposable coffee cup. For so many people, starting off the day with that cup of coffee or tea is a must. Using paper and plastic to-go cups can make this part of your routine more convenient, but this can have some huge impacts on the environment over time. Millions of trees, billions of gallons of water, and the amount of energy needed to power thousands of homes go into making these single-use cups. Save trees, water, energy, and the planet by choosing reusable options instead.
It’s easy to choose a reusable cup when you’re at home with your favorite ceramic mugs nearby, but it can be hard to choose a sustainable option when you’re on-the-go. Try keeping a cute custom travel mug in your car, so it’s handy next time you stop by a coffee shop. Leaving one or two ceramic mugs at your work can make it easier to stick with sustainable options there too. A personalized photo mug or cup is a great conversation starter — plus, they’re way more fun to drink out of than a boring old paper cup!
Use Cloth Towels Instead of Paper Towels
Using cloth towels for daily cleanups and wiping spills instead of going through rolls of paper towels is another easy way to become more eco-friendly. The EPA estimated that the generation of paper and paperboard nondurable products was 26 million tons in 2017, and tissue paper and towels accounted for 3.8 million tons of this. These materials aren’t recyclable because the fibers are already too small for that process. You can help bring that number down by using cloth rags and towels as much as possible.
Designate one towel for wiping counters and handles. Use one of the green cleaning products recommended by the EPA to spray on the surface and then wipe it clean with a cloth rag that can be washed in hot water and bleach. Locate another towel near the sink and the oven so that it can be handy for drying hands or grabbing hot pans in a hurry. Another towel can be used exclusively for drying clean dishes. These towels can be washed once a week or so. Not only is this a green option, but using pretty, personalized tea towels can add a nice touch to the kitchen, too. When you have towels that are getting old or dingy, instead of throwing them out, use those to clean up spills on the floor or for messier cleanups.
If you’re making the transition slowly, try using recycled products to replace your paper towels and bath tissues. This helps promote and sustain the recycled industry and extends the life of nondurable goods. These towels can also be cut up or shredded and added to compost after they’ve been used, which is a great way to keep the compost fresh and reduce your landfill waste.
Repurpose Jars and Other Containers
Get creative this Earth Day and repurpose jars and other containers when possible. Reuse plastic containers, like yogurt containers, for extra food storage. Reusing containers can reduce your need for single-use plastic bags and eliminates additional, harmful plastic landfill waste. Save glass jam and sauce jars to store dried goods like rice and lentils. Use smaller plastic containers to scoop pet food or starting seeds.
We also wanted to share a few ways Shutterfly is acting sustainably, this Earth Day, and every other day.
- Recycling our paper and cardboard waste.
- Purchasing responsibly sourced paper.
- Donating excess materials to local nonprofits when possible.
Shutterfly believes in sharing life’s joy for as long as possible and making a difference. We hope this gives you a few ideas for how to join us in becoming more sustainable.