It’s earth day! Remember the fires earlier this year? They were intense and made really want to review my habits as a consumer and user of things that were better for the environment and the community that I’m in. I asked for advice and people came through with support (you always do!) to help me realign and think of ways to change my habits. So I’m sharing ten things I’ve done that have helped limit my waste and harm.
Now before I get into it, I have to say that clean communities and the environment is an issue where we, Latinx, are often not at the table, but always on the menu. Environmental racism is real and we live the consequences of those impacts daily. And while we are also generally a people that reduce/reuse out of practice and necessity—we also have to make conscious decisions about bettering the environment because sometimes out of exhaustion and scarcity we pick the most harmful product. However, let me be clear that no matter how many tote bags I take to the grocery store it won’t change anything if huge corporations are allowed to continue to pollute and disrupt our environment. I don’t offer these changes as a naive solution. The responsibility is on those businesses. Which means the number one thing we can do for earth day is commit to support candidates on all levels that understand how climate change will impact us and hold the accountable to create appropriate legislation to address this need.
But in tandem, we also have to be better consumers and conscious about what we use our money on. Here are some changes I’ve made that have been easy and effective:
- Reusable straws. At first it was weird to take them with me, now it’s easy. My fave are a glass set I received last year as holiday gift. Cleaning is easy and I also stopped buying the (albeit cute) paper straws at the dollar spot
- Juice bottles. For a while, I ordered green juices that were delivered to me and while they were yum and convenient. It was a lot of waste (the cups, the lids, the shipping, etc). I committed to making my own juices which is truly so simple to do and use glass bottles to transport. So easy!
- Lunch containers. I started taking my lunch to work and moved away from plastic containers, to glass ones instead. Heavy but the perfect size for a work lunch
- Tote bags. This has been a thing now for years because I shopped at Aldi for a decade now and they are the No Bag Life, so totes were natural for me. I recommend large ones though rather than book totes for groceries.
- Reusable wipes. I mean the amount of cotton pads and wipes I go through? Switching to this lets me improve one of those most wasteful parts of my skin/beauty routine.
- Keeping jars. Y’all this is veering into how I’m turning into a Señora, but I mean do you know you can just clean and reuse all those pasta sauce and salsa jars? Because apparently I didn’t. Keeping them instead of discarding has encouraged me to waste less food (bc I have more containers) and be creative in trying to make sauces and other food stuffs since I have jars for them!
- Clothes. There are few women my age that didn’t live in Rainbow turned Forever 21 clothes for most of their youth. I get it—you want to be cute and trendy but clothes are pricy and we don’t make enough money! But fast fashion, as many know, is horrible for the environment. A few years ago I decided to limit how/where I purchased items. Obviously my purchases are a drop in the bucket but I feel good about my decision
- Meat. Another tough one, was limiting meat consumption. I still eat meat and use animal products but I severely limit meat consumption. I stopped buying meat for my own meals at home and have pushed myself out of my food comfort zone by trying recipes and substitutes that normally, with my food issues, would have grossed me out. It’s been a fun mental game lol but also exciting to see that I can try new things!
- & 10. Kitchen ware, ok so technically I haven’t tried these yet, but I want to! I’m searching for the best plastic wrap/cling replacement and want to start using baking mats rather than aluminum.
That’s it! I know it’s not anything groundbreaking but they were things I needed to consciously think about to add and change my routine. I know there are folks that go hella harder and more power to you. I like baby steps some times and hope to get to a place where consumption reduction is natural to me and the decisions I make.