Trying to save the earth? Go for these money-saving options that don’t require you to purchase more. Looking at you, metal straws.
Greta Thunberg’s message might have spoken to us in one way or another. While not all of us are speaking at conferences or leading movements across the world, we can certainly play our part by thinking of ways we can live more sustainably and take care of our environment.
Indeed, new innovations have surfaced in an attempt to reduce waste that are generated by everyday single-use items. But we don’t actually need to buy three new metal straws of different shapes and sizes or a new foldable tumblr in order to adopt a more environmentally friendly way of living.
The trick? Shop from your own home.
The whole idea about being sustainable is to reduce our use of natural resources and that also means giving the things around you more than one life. Thinking of ways to replace our disposable products might be tricky, especially if we want to refrain from buying already available eco-friendly options.
To help you out, here are some items you should be reusing or utilising, instead of clicking that ‘order’ button for a new metal lunchbox.
1. Plastic containers (instead of stainless steel food containers)
As you scour for a plate of chicken rice during lunch hour, you might realise some hawker stalls or restaurants offer a small discount if you bring your own takeaway boxes for on the go. Stainless steel food containers are a great option because they are long-lasting, BPA free and the good ones tend to be leak proof and dishwasher safe… Right?
Well, that depends. While it might seem like an obvious alternative to plastic and styrofoam takeaway boxes, buying a new stainless steel food container might actually bring more harm than good. All products leave a certain carbon footprint when it’s made.
Instead, try finding plastic boxes or glass jars already lying around the house to save the environment the hassle of more carbon footprint that comes with making that shiny new metal lunchbox. Otherwise, eating in is also another great option.
2. Plastic plates and cloth napkins (instead of beeswax wraps)
Made with cotton, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, beeswax wraps are reusable and can be utilised just like a plastic wrap and snap lock bags. They are good for wrapping around food containers to keep your leftovers fresh or packing a sandwich for on the go. But before you go hunting for them, cloth napkins that you might already own can also get the job done. Need something to cover your food container in the fridge? Try a plastic plate. There are always ways to work around getting what you need without spending a dime.
3. Any random bag (instead of fancy grocery bags)
Go to any supermarket or department store and you’ll find tote bags stacked on the shelves. Just as they are a useful alternative to single use plastic bags, they are at times very fashionable too. I mean, have you seen those string mesh bags on the runway?
While a new reusable tote bag can help us with our weekly grocery runs and match an outfit or two, reducing waste also means refusing the consumption of things you don’t exactly need. Instead of buying new bags, any random bag that you can find can serve the same purpose. And plastic bags don’t have to be single use either. More often than not, they can withstand a trip and two without ripping into pieces.
In fact, for every tote bag you buy, its carbon footprint is equivalent to using 104 plastic bags. That means, you’ve got to use your tote bag 104 times before it becomes more sustainable than plastic bags. And for each sustainable tote bag you get to keep up with the trends, that’s more carbon footprint to the count.
4. Glass bottles (instead of foldable tumblers and stainless steel bottles)
This is a hard one because foldable tumblers are incredibly convenient and stores everywhere are selling the most gorgeous kinds of stainless steel bottles. While they are a great alternative to single-use cups to reduce waste, being sustainable also means reducing consumption wherever you can. And not to mention, some of these items can be kind of pricey.
To save money and the earth, try to look out for glass bottles you may have around the house or that old hydroflask you might have lying in the hidden depths of your kitchen cupboard. You might have gotten a bottle or two at sometime in your life and when you already have one, you don’t have to get a new one. Keeps the wallet happy as well.
5. Washcloths (instead of Reusable Makeup Pads)
As zero-waste and sustainable living seeps into daily discourse, people are getting more aware of what they put down their rubbish chutes. Reusable makeup pads are one of the latest inventions that make our trash bags a tad bit lighter. Disposing makeup pads every time we use our makeup removers might not seem like a big deal, but when we do this everyday, a little goes a long way.
Instead of reusable makeup pads, washcloths can get the same job done and better yet, most of us might already own one.
6. Metal cutlery (instead of new-fangled bamboo ones)
Just like reusable food containers, bringing your own bamboo cutlery set enables you to refuse that one pair of chopsticks and plastic spoon when you order a takeaway for lunch. Better yet, bamboo cutlery sets are light, made from sustainable crop and biodegradable. But you also have your trusty metal cutlery tucked away in your kitchen drawers and the guess is, you are likely to have more than enough sets lying around.
While getting a new bamboo cutlery set is a great way to reduce waste, shopping for cutlery at home to carry around can reduce waste as well as consumption, and save your wallet a couple of dollars.
7. Just use your lips (instead of metal straws)
We all know how much plastic straws we use everyday. And it seems like it has served as more of a bane than a boon as we witness it surfacing on our beach shores and causing harm to our marine biology. Of course, it is no wonder that metal straws have become a popular to reduce our use and disposal of single-use plastic straws. But with the overwhelming demand comes with overwhelming supply and metal straws of all shapes, sizes and colours have seeped into the market and trickled down into our homes as well.
Like reusable tote bags, the production of a metal straw leaves a greater carbon footprint than a single plastic straw does. And each metal straw to the collection is more carbon footprint to the count. Instead, drinking from the cup might make things easier and if bubble tea and other drinks make straw an essential, perhaps just one metal straw can do the trick.