How to Help the Environment at Home in 2020
The crazy weather, Greta Thurnberg, media, Puerto Rico’s earthquakes, ridiculous opposition to climate change that has been vocal over the last year, the fires in California, and then Brazil… phew.
The wildfires in Australia were the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.
I’ve felt increasing overwhelmed with the possibility that my children might not make it to see adulthood if our society continues the way that we’re going. If the economy collapses due to humans inability to adapt to the needs of our planet …
I get emotional thinking about the future my boys potentially face.
I feel heartbroken and defeated, but mostly, I just feel angry.
We did this to ourselves. Is it too late to make a change?
I wanted to make sure that I could do something this year to help the environment at home. Not only will it be one small step for the environment, but hopefully, I will have been a good role model for my children.
Over winter break, I thought long and hard, and made a long list of things that we can cut out of our lives to help the environment at home, and hopefully, if we all take a few steps, we can help to change our system from the inside.
Here are my 11 things that will help the environment from home:
Ditch the Paper Goods
Now, toilet paper we kind of need. But paper towels and tissues can be easily replaced.
I estimate that in 2019 my family spent $176 on tissues and paper towels. That may be a conservative estimate. We also purchase our paper towels and tissues bulk at Costco, so for families that purchase a roll of paper towels a few at a time, that number may be MUCH higher.
1 & 2: Cloth Napkins & Handkerchiefs
Why not me?
The cloth napkins we opted for were cotton and were a dark color. Believe me, using a white napkin while eating barbeque and your napkins aren’t going to last very long!
Using more cloth means doing more laundry. We got a couple laundry baskets for the bathrooms and kitchen.
Also, make sure you’re using a more natural detergent!
Another way of combating our addiction to paper is to stop buying paper books.
I know, book lovers everywhere advocate that there’s nothing like the feeling and smell of a real book in your hands. And I totally agree.
But not at the expense of the environment.
Both my husband and I have our own Kindle.
Besides, a lot of times, the kindle version of a book is cheaper anyway!
Our children still have paper books. Studies report that children should be reading and writing on paper as opposed to on devices, and I wholeheartedly agree.
But when they are reading chapter books, they’ll get their own Kindle as well.
4: Stop Eating Beef
I said it.
The total effect of cattle farming on our climate and environment is astronomical. Even reducing your beef consumption to once or twice a month instead of once or twice a week can have huge effects.
Make Healthier Choices
Here’s a cookbook to get you started on swapping out your beef for other, healthier meats or other proteins.
(Dirty!) Love a good pun!
Interested in potentially becoming vegetarian or vegan?
Kudos to you, man. I love eggs and bacon way too much.
But becoming vegan is getting increasingly easy with more and more options for vegan protein, vegan restaurants, and vegan health and skincare products.
Here are a couple things that might help you on your lifestyle change:
If you’re not acquainted with Thug Kitchen, you totally should be!
This one is on my list of books I’m reading this year!
(Like I said, I’m not becoming vegan, but it’s totally a great option for those hoping to reduce their carbon footprint that much more.)
5: Cloth diapers
I have a love-hate relationship with cloth diapers.
I used them religiously when both boys were newborns. But then came daycare (for the oldest) and solid foods, and I didn’t use them as much.
Regardless, we’re making the switch back… at least part time. I have not found a good way of keeping cloth diapers from leaking at night, so they’re both in disposables overnight.
But the 9 month old is going to go back to cloth diapers during the day, and once my toddler has had a good poop for the day, he’ll be in cloth for the rest of the day as well. It’s going to be a difficult switch back, but I’m happy about my choice to do so.
Looking for more reasons to take the plunge and try cloth diapers? Read this post about cloth diapers from my blogger friend at Mama Bear Finance.
6-12: STOP. USING. ONE-USE. PLASTICS!
Guys, time to get serious.
Starbucks coffee cups can’t be recycled. (6)
Straws can’t be recycled. (7)
Q-tips can’t be recycled. (8)
Tooth flossers can’t be recycled. (9)
Ziploc bags can’t be recycled. (10)
Plastic forks, knives, spoons, and party cups CAN’T BE RECYCLED! (11)
Toothbrushes can’t be recycled. (12)
Plastic dish sponges can’t be recycled. (13)
Please, for the love of Mother Earth, STOP USING THESE PRODUCTS!
If you want to get serious about ways to help the environment, THIS IS IT!
Here are my favorite product replacements for the items I listed above. It’s not difficult to carry a straw with you on your keychain. It’s not difficult to have a little box in your car with a Thermal to-go mug for your Starbucks in the morning.
Make the switch today.
And remember, a habit takes 21 days (or longer…) to form. So don’t give up after two weeks.
Yes, change is difficult. But facing an ever-increasing world temperature will be the most difficult thing that we’ve ever collectively had to face.
What do I do with the plastic and paper goods that I already have in my home?
I’ll tell you what I’m doing with them, and then I’ll give you some additional options.
We’re keeping them all for now. If we travel, if there’s an emergency, or if there is just NO other option at a certain point in time, we will use them. But we will use them sparingly and consciously.
You could also donate them to your local church or soup kitchen.
You could make “care boxes” to hand out to the homeless.
You could donate them to classrooms, which, I’m sure, need an abundance of tissues at this time of year.
If you already bought them, no need to feel guilty. Just make sure they go to good use and don’t just end up, in the box, in a landfill. That kind of senseless waste is what we’re trying to avoid.
Other Potential Ways to Help the Environment
Like I said, I’m heartbroken for everyone dealing with the consequences of our money-driven society. And I’m angry.
I hope you are too.
These 11 things that will help the environment are NOT an exhaustive list. If you care for the Earth, you’ll continue to do more research and continue to make changes like I am.
Here are a few other ideas for making changes in your life to have positive effects on our environment:
- only shop for eco-conscious clothing
- plant a garden
- raise bees
- make a bee house
- get educated on your city’s recycling policies
- ditch the paper planner and get a digital one
- contact your local and state government to advocate for recycling bins in public places
- contact your Senator via letter or phone to express your concern for environmental matters and climate change
I’m not perfect. I don’t live a no-waste life. But I want to live a sustainable, balanced life.
But I’m making healthier, more eco-conscious decisions.
I hope you’ll join me.