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A good friend of mine once told me, “you vote with your dollar,” so here are 10 environmental ways you can vote with yours.
Plastic toothbrushes are non-recyclable and wasteful. Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans every year worldwide1. The brand Brush with Bamboo has created 100% compostable and sustainable toothbrushes. Every component of their product is plant-based: bristles, handle, wrapper, and box. Their toothbrushes are BPA-free, vegan, and verified non-toxic. My boyfriend, and I recently purchased the 12-pack (if you throw out your toothbrush every 3 months like the internet suggests, the 12-pack will last you 3 years); we are set to brush away guilty free for approximately the next 1.5 years each, and you can be too.
Disposable plastic bags harm wildlife, pollute our oceans, and are rarely recycled. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. On average only one plastic bag is recycled for every 200 we use2. Organic cotton totes are the best alternative to both disposable and reusable plastic bags because they are plastic free and biodegradable. Cotton is one of the most biodegradable fabrics you can own. In compost, cotton may biodegrade within as little as a week.
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Disposable razors are non-recyclable, expensive, and wasteful. The EPA estimates that 2 billion razors are thrown away each year3. A reusable chrome razor will last a lifetime and replaceable stainless steel blades are recyclable.
Most tampons have plastic tampon applicators, which are non-recyclable and non-organic tampons containing artificial fragrances and colors, polyester, adhesives, and a slew of contaminants and chemicals linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness, and infertility.
In the United States alone, an estimated 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of annually4. The average American woman menstruates for 38 years, producing a grand total of 62,415 pounds of garbage5. Menstrual cups are easy, worry-free, hygienic, safe, eco-friendly, wallet-friendly, pose no risk of Toxic shock syndrome, and come in a variety of colors and sizes. There are many brands on the market such as Divacup, Lunette, and Anigan Evacup. I recently purchased a cup from Lunette for approximately $40. On average women spend $100 on tampons and pads a year6. A menstrual cup can last up to 10 years and will pay for itself in less than 5 months.
Body wash in packaging is wasteful, rarely recycled, often tested on animals or derived from chemicals that are not cruelty free, and not biodegradable. Approximately 15% of your money is spent on the packaging that contains your desired product, so head to your local health food store, farmer’s market, or Whole foods and pick up a bar of natural unwrapped bulk soap available in a wide array of delicious scents.
Plastic water bottles harm wildlife, pollute our oceans, are seldom recycled, and are completely avoidable (unless you are unfortunate to live in a place without safe drinking water). The US alone consumes enough water bottles each year to wrap around the Earth 190 times7, and only 20% of these are recycled8. Most tap water is more heavily tested and regulated than bottled water. Plastic water bottles also leach toxins that end up in your blood stream. So do yourself and the earth a favor and pick up a reusable water bottle from your local grocery store.
Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals and are unnecessary. Despite what the advertisements and grocery stores tell you, you don’t need a different cleaning product for every item in your home. White vinegar is very versatile and can be used to disinfect the bathroom bathroom, clean the inside of the fridge, and remove stains.
Bleached toilet paper is non-recycled, wasteful, and contains dangerous chemicals. According to National Geographic, conventional toilet paper wipes out 27,00 trees a day. Recycled natural unbleached toilet paper is better for both your bum and the planet. For those of you who are wondering, no, this does not mean reused toilet paper! My roommates, and I use the Seventh Generation 100% unbleached recycled bath tissue, and have no complaints thus far. Conserve energy, water, and trees one wipe at a time.
Disposable makeup remover wipes are wasteful, expensive, and unnecessary. They often contain toxic chemicals and are usually not cruelty free. Organic coconut oil is 100% natural, healthy, safe, and biodegradable. I have been using organic coconut oil as an alternative to makeup remover and can attest to the ease at which it removes even the toughest of mascaras and lipsticks without drying the skin. Reusable cotton rounds are a great replacement for cotton balls, which are pesticide and water intensive to produce and not recyclable.
Conventional dish soaps have a high concern for cancer and other health problems, lots of preservatives, and are not biodegradable. Bulk castile soaps such as Dr. Bronner’s are cruelty free/vegan, organic, fair trade, and biodegradable. Castile soaps can be used to wash your dishes, hands, face, body, and hair. They come in a variety of wonderful scents such as peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus.
For more tips and tricks check out Lauren Singer’s awesome blog.