Earth Day is one of my favorite days of the year because there is so much media attention dedicated to helping the Earth. Despite the bleak situation we’re in with this planet, on Earth Day we focus on the small changes each of us can make to sustain our planet for future generations. This year, I challenge you to treat Earth Day like New Year’s Day. Make a resolution to try one of these small efforts for a full year—until Earth Day 2016.
Banish Paper Towels
This first resolution might sound impossible, but it’s easier than you think and makes a big impact. By mostly converting to this method, my household now buys less than six rolls of paper towels a year.
In my home, my partner runs through his cotton socks like crazy, and I end up with stains on kitchen towels all the time. When these items are no longer presentable, I wash and add them to a basket designated for rags. Instead of using paper towels when I clean the counters, toilets, sinks, mirrors, etc., I use these rags. We have so many that we never run out, and I just wash them in a separate cycle from the other towels.
You can start the conversion slowly. If you don’t have any clothing or towels to convert to rags right now, start by buying the cheapest white towels you can find (think a six-pack from a dollar store). You’ll find opportunities to convert old clothes to rags in no time.
Recycle Toilet Paper Tubes
Several years ago, I realized that there was no reason to throw the toilet paper tubes in the garbage if I was recycling other cardboard. Once someone in your family finishes the roll, ask them to put the tube in with the paper recycling.
You could also forego the tube altogether. Scott is now making tube-free toilet paper. They even have a quick quiz you can take to find out how many rolls your household uses in a lifetime (mine is over 9,000—good thing I’m recycling the tubes!).
Convert to Cloth Napkins
Americans use over 2,000 paper napkins on average in a year. Along the same lines as banishing paper towels, you can reduce your paper use by switching to cloth napkins, too.
I recommend darker colors and patterns to hide stains that will inevitably happen over time. You can get a great set of four napkins for under $10.00 and can reuse one napkin per person for a few days before needing to wash it. Give each member of the family a unique color to make keeping track easier.
Use Natural Pesticides
Avoid using chemical bug repellents around the house, as they can harm your kids, pets, and plants. Instead, do a little research on your favorite search engine or Pinterest and find natural pesticides.
For example, use mint or cayenne pepper to prevent ants from coming inside your house. Plant peppermint in your garden to keep spiders and mice away, and sweet basil to repel flies. Find more natural ways to deter pests here.
Stop Using Plastic Bags
You probably already know about this resolution, and have likely already tried it. But time and time again, I often find myself making a quick stop after work somewhere and forget to bring my reusable bags (hint: find a small, foldable bag that will fit in your handbag, manbag, or diaper bag).
If you’re like me, make this an official resolution this year so that you make a greater effort at it. Next time you find yourself without a bag at the store, buy less and refuse the bag. One experience of balancing your few handfuls of groceries without a bag will teach you to remember your reusable bags next time.
Buy in Bulk – Produce Less Waste
It’s not only less expensive to buy in bulk, but it’s better for the environment because you reduce the overall packaging you consume (and recycle or throw away). Just be sure to only buy as much as you’ll use.
Does your family go through yogurt quickly? Stop buying individual packs and buy a larger tub. Keep smaller glass or plastic containers in your cupboard so you can make individual servings for lunches. Buy some Mason jars to store nuts, granola, and dried fruits that you buy from the bulk section at the grocery store.
Try one of these resolutions to stick to until Earth Day 2016. It will take a little effort at first, but chances are you will find it easier as time goes by and may even be inspired to pick up a new Earth Day resolution mid-year.
Are there other Earth-friendly resolutions you recommend? Tell me your favorites in the comments below.