Never buy bottled water again.

Plastic water bottles are the stuff of nightmares.

Just think about all the energy and petroleum product used to make one plastic water bottle that will be quickly chucked and, 80% of the time, not recycled. Remember also that once in the landfills, a water bottle takes 1,000 years to decompose and, if incinerated, produces toxic fumes.

The solution to all this nastiness is cheap and easy. Use tap water to fill your reusable water bottle and carry it around with you. It takes no effort to do so and it is definitely cheaper than buying a $2 water bottle every time you feel a little thirsty. Not only that, but if you have water with you at all time, you’re less likely to go the unhealthy route by purchasing a sugary soda (also found in plastic bottles).

International travelers may be tempted to buy unsealed water bottles when they are in areas well-known for their unsafe drinking water, but they are many options to treat water that does not involve using single-use plastic containers. Check out REI’s guide to make the best choice.

For Earth Day, Klean Kanteen, creator of the #bringyourown project, is even discounting some of its stainless reusable bottles (they last many, many years), for you to take the first step towards helping our planet.

Shop less, shop well, and make it last.

There’s no need to swear off shopping altogether to reduce your environmental impact, but reducing the amount we buy and making smarter choices are key.

Buying a lot of cheap clothing may seem harmless, but it actively damages your wallet and the Earth. According to Grist, “Every year, Americans buy 20 billion new items of clothing and send 10 million tons of clothing to the dump”. It is very easy to get rid of an item of clothing that you only paid $10 for once you don’t like its fit or colour any longer, but the energy and resources wasted on making this product should not be overlooked.

There are zero benefits to disposable fashion other than the fake sense of happiness you get when you purchase something new, so it’s time to figure out ways look good without turning our planet into a garbage can.

First, lower your carbon footprint and do not encourage the waste of resources by shopping less. Second, when you need something, make sure you purchase a good quality and sustainable item that will last you years like these new eco-friendly Levi’s jeans or recycled Patagonia gear. You will likely have to pay more for it, but you’ll save money in the long run. Third, mend and fix the items damaged instead of getting rid of them. Fourth, don’t trash the clothes you don’t want any longer, give them away to charities or, if they are beyond repair, recycle them.

Eat less meat.

You may not like hearing it, but here’s no denying it: the planet would be better off if we were all vegetarians.

According to Matador Network producer Amanda Machado, reducing or stopping our meat consumption would have an impact far greater on the planet than all the little green things we do everyday, i.e. having short showers, recycling, biking to work, etc. Here’s why :

– “Eating one hamburger wastes more water on the planet than 2 months of showering.
– It takes 18 times as much land to feed a meat-eater than it does to feed a vegan.
– Meat does more damage to the atmosphere than all transportation combined.”

Not only that, but “if we took all the feed we give to cattle on the planet and turned it into food for human beings, we could feed every human being on the planet”. That’s called killing two birds with one stone.

Go paperless.

While living in Canada, I once ordered an item from the UK and from then on, I kept receiving the company’s thick catalogue in the mail every month. Although I loved checking out the cool stuff they had for sale, there was no need for me to receive it by mail all the way from Europe, so I called them up, told them to stop sending it to me, and started looking at their website instead. The process took about 5 minutes altogether.

If you’re reading this you know how to use a computer and you probably have an email address. So don’t wait any longer and subscribe for electronic billing, electronic bank statements, and electronic catalogues.

The same goes for the weekly flyers. Stick a note on your mailbox saying you don’t want them and go online to see what’s on sale this week at the local grocery store.

Going paperless does not only save trees, it reduces the energy usage and the release of harmful gases in pulp and paper industry, the fuel consumption needed to send documents, and the number of ink and toner cartridges that end up in landfills each year.

Swear off disposables.

If it’s disposable and it does not save lives (condoms, surgical gloves, etc.), don’t buy it or use it. Most disposable items are not recyclable and end up in the landfills or the oceans 10 minutes after being purchased and they cost you more than non disposables.

For example, buying paper tissues and plastic diapers cost you way more than buying handkerchiefs or clothe diapers that will last for years; so does buying tampons and sanitary towels instead of menstrual cups, sponges, or fabric pads. And if you don’t think that female hygiene disposables make a difference in the scheme of the planet, well, you’re wrong; according to Slate, “The average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of ‘pads, plugs, and applicators’ in her lifetime,” all of which are not recyclable.

As I’ve said before, the best way to ban all disposables from your life is to envision millions of non-recyclable tampon applicators, coffee cup plastic lids, and balls of foil floating in the oceans among dolphins, turtles, whales, etc. That does it for me.

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