Don’t be shy and ask a friend, family member, or neighbor if you can borrow an item. It is a great way to get to know people around you and they might even be willing to help you out. But don’t be the jerk who doesn’t return what you borrowed. You can also check your area for different types of borrowing systems. I found a Tool Lending Library in Portland, OR. Speaking of libraries, if you aren’t utilizing your local library, then you are missing out. Libraries aren’t only for checking out physical books anymore. I check out books, eBooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, DVDs, and also stream movies and TV shows from library supported apps.
Buy in bulk and bring your own containers, produce bags, and large grocery bags. Buying in bulk will not only cut down on the amount of packaging used and accumulated over time but will also save money! I bring reusable bulk and produce bags to the grocery store with me each time. I also shop for spices in bulk by bringing my spice jars from home (see above). It took me a while to set up my spice cabinet, but in the end, it saves packaging, saves money by buying only the amount that is needed, and ensures the I am using fresh spices. If you do end up with plastic shopping bags, return them on your next trip to the store. Most stores now have large bins, when you first enter the main doors, to recycle used plastic shopping bags. Last year, I experimented with ways to reduce my grocery bill by shopping at Trader Joe’s for about three weeks. I found I was able to reduce my grocery bill. However, I noticed that every item that I purchased (salad, fresh green beans, peas, etc.) all came individually packaged in plastic. I reduced the grocery bill, but the amount of waste I produced went up significantly. That is when I started buying in bulk, bringing produce bags, and generally purchasing only products without a package. Now, I need to learn how to make tofu, and I can do away with individual tofu containers!
23. Buying Organic
Pesticides and chemicals used in farming are also causing soil and water contamination, as well as creating many human and non-human health concerns. Pesticides and chemicals are one of the main reasons I buy organic produce. As I mentioned before, check the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists to see what produce typically has a higher pesticide use and try purchasing those items from the organic sections when you can.
24. Ditch the straw
Plastic straws are starting to cause a significant waste problem worldwide. In the United States alone, we go through 500 million plastic straws each day (Siniauer, 2017). Plus these straws can take 200 years to break down ("How Long," 2017). Next time, skip the plastic straw and bring a glass or metal straw. They are usually inexpensive and can be purchased at grocery stores. I now carry around two reusable straws in my purse (one for me and one for my husband), and a friend of mine carries around a few reusable straws in a chopsticks box.
25. Always Carry a Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Cup
Bring your reusable coffee cup to your local coffee shop and carry a reusable water bottle with you. I used to live in Boston, Massachusetts, home of Dunkin' Donuts. I can’t begin to tell you how many Dunkin' Donuts cups I saw in the trash each day. What irked me the most was the doubling up on cups - a plastic cup for an iced coffee tucked inside of a larger styrofoam cup to keep it cold and to keep your hands warm. Yes, it makes sense, but what a waste! Now that I live on the West Coast, it is usually Starbucks or Dutch Bros’s coffee cups I see swimming in the trash. Save some waste and bring a reusable cup for the barista to use while making your next cup of coffee. With a reusable water bottle, you are not only saving the plastic waste of buying water bottles, but you are also saving money! When are ready to fill up, there is usually a water source available or ask for extra water for your bottle if you are at a restaurant. Most people are happy to fill it up or bring extra water. Plus I find it is an excellent vehicle for my activism stickers.