August 23, 2021 5 min read

Many of us are looking for ways to be more sustainable in 2021 and beyond. For some, the effort to make the switch to a zero-waste lifestyle can feel overwhelming and you might not know where to start. Do you really have to invest a small fortune in sustainable products just to become more eco-conscious? Does being sustainable require you to be ultra-organized at all times? And do your efforts have to look as good as an influencer's Instagram post?

Thankfully, no. Making sustainable changes like buying a reusable lighter, ditching plastic shopping bags, and changing to zero waste cleaning products doesn't have to be expensive or difficult. It can even be easier than sticking to the high-waste habits you use now. Check out these three easy swaps that can help you start the journey towards building a more sustainable lifestyle. 

How Can We Be Sustainable in 2021? 

The goal of sustainability is to stop using our natural resources faster than they can be replenished. While this movement towards sustainability needs to happen on a global scale, the process starts right at home. One of the easiest changes you can make is eliminating single-use plastic from your home. 

The EPA reports that of all the plastic used in 2018, less than 9% of it was recycled. That left over 30 million tons of plastic going into landfills. The answer isn't more recycling, either. Recycling plastic to make new plastic items still consumes a lot of energy. Instead, the solution is to reduce our dependence on plastic in the first place. 

If you are looking for ways to be more eco-friendly, start by making these three easy changes to your daily routine. 

Ditch Your Shopping Bags in Favor of Laundry Baskets

Single-use plastic bags are on their way out for a good reason. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year, with the vast majority ending up in landfills after just one use. More states are banning the use of these bags entirely, including California, Delaware, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. More states are sure to follow.

So what's the alternative? 

Instead of bags, throw a few laundry baskets or boxes in the back of your car. This is a sustainable trend that's been all over Tiktok, and people are loving it. Why? Because it's genuinely easier than remembering to grab reusable shopping bags on your way to the grocery store. When you go to the grocery store, load up your cart as normal. At the checkout counter, instead of bags, just put everything directly back into the cart. Wheel it all out to your car and load up your laundry baskets. When you get home, instead of trying to carry in ten bags at once, just grab a laundry basket and haul it inside. It's easier to carry more stuff at once, and you can use those laundry baskets again and again. 

Look for Refillable Cleaning Solutions

The next time you clean the house, consider how much single-use plastic is involved, especially all the plastic bottles that hold your cleaning products. Window cleaner, wood polish, antibacterial spray, and bathroom cleaner are all held in single-use plastic bottles. While you might be able to recycle some of the bottles, you often can't recycle the caps and triggers. Even if you do recycle, it's important to keep in mind that almost 70% of plastic containers end up in the landfill. So the solution isn't just to cut down on single-use containers of cleaning solution, but to eliminate them entirely.

Entrepreneurs to the rescue. There are several innovative companies now offering refillable cleaning solutions. You don't even have to go to the store for them. They mail you concentrated forms of the cleaning products you need straight to your door. You just pop them into your favorite reusable spray bottle and add water. Your regular cleaning products are as much as 90% water, meaning a lot of the carbon footprint of shipping those products is the result of just moving water around.

By switching to refillable cleaning products, you are: 

  • Eliminating single-use plastic spray bottles
  • Reducing your carbon footprint
  • Supporting small businesses 

A lot of these products offer more eco-conscious cleaning solutions too. Look for brands that offer solutions that are free of micro-plastics and committed to reducing their carbon emissions. 

Make the Switch to Rechargeable Electric Lighters

If you want to make one tiny change in your household that will have a big impact, change your lighter. 

Despite more people giving up smoking every year, Bic sells more than 300 million lighters a year. It's one of those things we all have around, use a few times, and throw out the next time we're cleaning out the junk drawer. All those lighters are ending up in the landfill, too, because the metal parts along with the chemicals inside mean they can't be recycled. They are also toxic when burned, which is what happens with a lot of landfill waste. 

It's unlikely you can give up using a lighter entirely, though. They are convenient for starting fires on camping trips and lighting candles for cozy nights in. They are a necessity, but that doesn't mean they can't be more sustainable.

Instead of buying a plastic lighter next time you are at the convenience store, pick up an electric reusable lighter instead. These lighters don't require butane and are generally safer than traditional lighters because there is no flame. These windproof lighters work by creating an arc of electricity, which is easily used to light a cigarette, candle, or fire starter. You can use one USB rechargeable lighter for the rest of your life, making this a high-impact, low-effort way to become more sustainable. 

What Can I Do To Be More Eco-Friendly?

Being more eco-conscious is about more than choosing sustainable products. It's about actively looking for ways to reduce waste in your own life while reducing your dependence on natural resources. Besides eliminating single-use plastics from your home, there are other ways you can be more eco-friendly: 

  • Make one sustainable change every month. Maybe this month you are biking to the store instead of driving. Maybe next month you start buying clothes exclusively from sustainable brands. Making one change a month keeps sustainability manageable in your life without overwhelming you. It will also make a huge difference in your carbon footprint one year from now. 
  • Research the companies you buy from. It's really easy for a company to claim they sell eco-friendly products. There are no laws regulating these claims, so it's up to the consumer to do their research. Before you make a purchase, take a few minutes to learn about the company. Read their About Us page or look for information online about their commitment to sustainability. 
  • Support initiatives to hold companies accountable. While making changes on a local level is important, corporations are the biggest polluters. Just 20 corporations are responsible for one-third of the world's carbon emissions. The more these companies seek sustainability, the bigger the impact will be on the rest of the world. 

 

Sustainability isn't a trend. It's here to stay. Making the change to a more zero waste lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, overwhelming, or expensive. Start with small changes, and they'll quickly start making a difference in your home and for the planet. Shopping for zero-waste sustainable products that eliminate single-use plastics is the perfect place to start. Pick up a USB rechargeable lighter in our online store to start your journey towards more eco-conscious living today. 

 

Contributing Writer: Erica Moss


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