The Best Hot Tool Ever
By Vanessa Camozzi on January 9, 2022
It is not cheap to go plastic-free. Most sustainable and eco-friendly products will cost you more than just buying plastic products. Sustainably produced clothing items are often priced way higher than fast fashion items.
Sometimes it feels like it is just not financially possible to live sustainably. It is definitely a privilege to be able to purchase eco-friendly goods to replace non sustainable counterparts.
What is most important for achieving sustainable living is to progress at your own pace and do the best you can without stressing yourself over what others are doing to achieve the same goal. We can each try in our own way and play a small role in tackling this global issue.
It is crucial to have an attitude that always looks for environmentally-sound steps that fit your lifestyle. Also, establishing your own comfortable system that you can continue practicing without dwelling on too much is the key to success.
It is so important to find a balance for both being sustainable and figuring out what is convenient and easy for you to manage so that you can pursue literally a “sustainable sustainable living."
In this article, we’ll look at key terminology to understand as you make your eco-friendly decisions. Next, we’ll look at some specific examples of ways to live sustainably, from cutting single-use kitchen goods to making DIY hand towels & beeswax wraps, and we’ll wrap up this post with some takeaways to help you figure out your own path.
The simplest way to understand and remember the eco pecking order is that it gets better environmentally in the order of “Recyclable” to “Biodegradable” to “Compostable”.
In the dictionary, the term “Recyclable” is defined as “to process something in order to regain material for human use."
On the other hand, “biodegradable” and “compostable” are on the opposite side of the spectrum from “recyclable” where rather than transforming by reusing something, it is transforming by letting it break down into the soil
According to Merriam-Webster, “biodegradable” means “capable of being broken down especially into innocuous products by the action of living things (such as microorganisms),” while the term compostable is defined as “a decayed mixture of plants that is used to improve the soil in a garden.”
Although biodegradable materials return to nature and can disappear completely, they sometimes leave behind metal residue. On the other hand, compostable materials create something called humus that is full of nutrients and great for plants. In summary, compostable products are biodegradable, but with an added benefit. Remember, a biodegradable material is not necessarily compostable, but a compostable material is always biodegradable!
Do you have a better understanding now on what all these terms mean?
One of the easiest and the most economical ways to be sustainable and eco-friendly is to reduce the single-use of plastic products.
We all know by now that one of the simple ways to escape from single-use plastic products is to use a reusable water bottle instead of drinking from a plastic bottle.
Plastic bottled water is not good for your health anyway because some are still made with plastics that actually leech chemicals into the water.
If you already own a reusable water bottle, use it! Or invest in an insulated water bottle if you can. Having an insulated water bottle wherever you go is a game changer! Not only are you doing your part living a more ecological lifestyle and saving money over time by not buying bottled water, but you can always control the temperature of water to your choice. It is so refreshing to drink ice cold water on hot summer days, and it is super cozy to sip warm water with lemon on cold winter days while being on the go. It is truly the easiest way to start your journey to an eco-friendly lifestyle that will benefit you financially and environmentally.
That tiny, thin plastic tube that you normally use once and throw away after one single use can impact mother earth horrendously.
A stainless steel straw is the best option available to replace a plastic one. They are durable, reusable, and affordable. The best part is that they will last forever (well close enough anyway!)
It is so important to be aware that a lot of plastic alternatives also might be better for the environment compared to plastics; however, a lot of them cause harm to the environment in their development. For example, products that are made of plants or sugarcane are not always ideal since farming uses up a lot of resources and water. Moreover, they are mostly recyclable but not always biodegradable.
Some companies advertise their products as biodegradable, but it is often only true in certain environments where they conduct testing products that their temperature and moisture are controlled. So it doesn't mean it is biodegradable in all environments.
Bamboo straws are not so great either. Bamboo has a high carbon footprint since most bamboos are grown and exported from China to the U.S. And, some of those bamboo straws are often made with only 20% of bamboo and the rest is made with cornstarch and resin which are chemically formed plastic. So make sure to look for 100% natural bamboo straws if you buy them.
“Made with plants” does not always mean helping the environment. The best way to solve this dilemma is to eliminate as much single-use of anything as you can.
Even if you live in an area where plastic grocery bags are still available at local stores, try to bring your own reusable grocery bags or reuse the same plastic grocery bag that you have until you can no longer use it. Whatever you do just don't use plastic bags and throw them out after using them once. Taking one small step in the right direction can help save the planet more than you can imagine.
Just try to upcycle and reuse any available containers, such as old yogurt containers and old salsa jars, in the kitchen that you might normally recycle. You do not need to go out of your way to buy mason jars or reusable silicone bags. Mason jars are great if you find them worth spending on, but it is not easy to find reusable silicone bags that you can clean well (so that food smell won’t stay on bags). Working with what you have is the start to a sustainable lifestyle. Making the most of what you already have is the first step and is a much better option than going out and replacing everything with what might be ultimately better items for the environment.
Glass pasta sauce jars and any glass jars with lids are great to wash and keep for later food storage use. You can simply sterilize them with hot water and rinse them. If you want to get rid of the food smell, just pour some vinegar and warm water and leave it for 20 minutes. All you have to do is to close the lid and shake the jar a couple of times before rinsing it with warm water. If you need to get rid of stubborn sticky labels that do not come off even after soaking in hot/warm water, here are the steps:
1.) First, try to remove/scrape as much of the paper label as possible.
2.) Second, pour whatever cooking oil you have and rub it on where it’s still sticky before sprinkling some baking soda on it. Wait about 10 minutes and use your dish sponge to scrub and rinse it off. You will be surprised how clean it gets!
You can use any cotton or linen fabric to make an easy and budget-friendly beeswax wrap. Beeswax wraps are easy to make and usually last more than 80 times or at least 6 months of use and are totally compostable after its life. Stay Tuned for the easy step-by-step guide on “How to Make Beeswax Wrap” on helloSPICA!
Changing it to a reusable baking mat from a regular baking paper makes sense financially and ecologically. A box of parchment paper costs about $6+ dollars. At the same time, a reusable silicone baking mat also costs less than $6 and you can use it over and over.
Sneak a Tupperware/container into your bag when you eat out or always leave a Tupperware in your car. This way you can use your own food container when you have leftovers to go at a restaurant.
Instead of using a ton of paper towels, use a regular towel. Although paper towels are very convenient, it creates a lot of waste. If you do use a paper towel, please remember to discard it as compost, not as garbage! You can use one or two small hand towels or even washcloths daily to keep things sanitary and eco-friendly instead of using paper towels.
Treat yourself to cute cloth napkins! Or make your homemade cloth napkin as a DIY weekend activity for yourself or with kids! There is nothing fancy or difficult about making one. All you need is any fabric you can find (cotton or linen), a needle, and thread. If you own a sewing machine, it will make it much easier and faster for you, but this is not necessary. Simply cut the fabric into a square (or any shapes) of your choice (e.g., 8x8 or 6x6) and stitch it around to prevent the fabric from fraying. That’s it! Cute cloth napkins are also great environmentally friendly gift ideas for family and friends!
As far as washing goes, you can create a small basket/bin for exclusively “kitchen-items-laundry”, so you can wash only the kitchen towels and cloth napkins. Washing in towel setting on your laundry machine or with hot water separating from the rest of your laundry items is recommended for good hygiene practice.
Living sustainably cannot be defined in one way. It can often be very hard to figure out what exactly the best choices we can make are, especially because depending on our socioeconomic status, making these eco-friendly choices can be very difficult or prohibitively expensive.
We all walk our own personal journey on living a sustainable life, but we also live in a highly critical and very judgmental society where everyone feels that they have a voice in what you do. That is why we all have to have a level of respect for what it is that a person wants to do and can do.
The real work is the work within to create a healthy functioning system that is environmentally aware that is fulfilled by your own effort and creativity. Whatever choice is made beyond that is a totally personal one that you should be proud of and not feel ashamed of.
What is important is creating a plan that works for you and focusing on it. It's about sticking with your plan and doing it day after day and over and over, so you can contribute to the earth we live on but in your own way and be a part of positive practice. It is never the most glamorous thing to do but almost always, it’s one thing that will make you feel proud of yourself and help our mother earth! After all, she's the only one we have.