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5 Simple Single-use Swaps to Reduce Consumption and Waste

I was inspired to take some action at my work office. So much so, that I felt I really wanted to share my initiative with the world.

I work in a large dental office. If there's something I've realized since I've been working in the dental profession is that it's a VERY wasteful profession, unfortunately.

All the dental supplies come to us packaged in cardboard boxes and are usually individually wrapped with plastic. The disposable dental supplies such as suction tips, headrest covers, plastic barriers for infection control, plastic spit cups, plastic this, plastic that, a lot of it is all plastic. But it all ends up in the garbage because, well, spit and blood. Anyway, today I was opening some boxes of supplies as we usually do daily, and the thought occurred to me: Do we even recycle? I later discovered that our building complex, filled with several other medical clinics and offices, does not recycle. So all that cardboard and plastic waste was going directly into the garbage.

I was shocked. There is no active recycling system at my office and apparently not much anywhere in the commercial sector besides residential sectors here in the city. That's unfortunate.

I used to work at a retail store in an outdoor outlet center and all our boxes of clothes came in cardboard boxes and individually wrapped in thick plastic bags. They'd also always go in the bin behind the backstore outside, where all the other store disposed of their recycling and trash, and this was just a garbage bin. I'm sure you've seen some sort of pollution video montage on Facebook at some point. Our consumption is really just too high. We are using this earth as a dump. Just my office daily, has an enormous collection of paper, plastic and cardboard. Can you imagine weekly? Monthly? Annually? From my office alone, within a building complex with several other clinics.

Now imagine every office on one street, in a neighborhood, in a city, in a province, in a country... This breaks my heart. It's 2018, and still so many places are not recylcing. Feeling inspired, I decided to take action myself. I couldn't keep consciously throwing all this stuff into the garbage.

Now, most people have the following mentality: I'm just one person, how will the actions of one individual have a global impact? Why should I even bother? The problem is much bigger than me. With that attitude towards the situation, obviously nothing will change. If the whole population thought this way about everything, nothing would ever change because no one would ever put in the effort. One individual CAN actually make a huge difference because we have the power to start a domino effect. Our compassion and love is addictive to others. We are more powerful than we make ourselves out to be. We have the ability to change the world completely. Sorry, I'm a dreamer. What if we each did a little something at home, or at our office, or wherever we can. I encourage you to take action. Our planet is just too precious. We are depleting it and consuming in mass quantities. We seriously need to chill.

To encourage you to take some action, I've created a list of 5 simple single-use swaps to reduce our consumption and waste. They are all inexpensive and totally easy to do!

5 Single-use Swaps to Reduce Consumption and Waste

1. Swap your plastic coffee stirrers for bamboo stirrers

Yeah, those you just use to stir the sugar and cream in your coffee for a few seconds and immediately throw into the garbage! Did you know, those plastic stirrers are not recyclable? Which means they end up in our oceans and on our shores in disgusting amounts.

Eco-friendly alternative: Bamboo Stirrers! Or if you have access to spoons at your office or home, definitely use those. Amazon has the cheapest 100% All-natural, Eco-friendly, Sustainable Bamboo Coffee Stirrers.

2. Swap your plastic straws for stainless steel straws

Those too, are also super wasteful as they are also not biodegradable. Eco friendly alternative: I recommend you switch to these Stainless Steel Straws.

These are super cheap and also come with two brush brush cleaners and a travel bag so you can bring them on the go. They are dishwasher-safe and are made from FDA approved Stainless Steel.

IMPORTANT: If you are super into Kombucha, the buyer warns never to mix metal with Kombucha.

3. Swap your daily coffee cup orders for a travel mug / use re-usable water bottles for water

If you frequently find yourself at the drive-thru ordering coffees, I'd say it's time you invest in a good travel mug. One thing I've noticed is that most coffee caps and coffee cardboard cups have a recycled 6 times tag which means they are NOT recyclable. Think of how many people on this planet order coffee on a daily basis... Eco-friendly alternative: Invest in a nice travel coffee mug you like, that is reusable and easily washable. Most drive-thrus will allow you to bring your own mug for your coffee. You pay the size you want in your mug. No need for cups or caps! Amazon has a really good travel mu. This Bamboo Travel Mug is one of my favorites. It retains heat for up to 12 hours and cold up to 24 hours!

If you're still purchasing cases and cases of plastic water bottles for your family, please stop. There are so many re-usable water bottles available on the market today, you have no more excuse!

Eco-friendly alternative: Invest is a great personal re-usable water bottle that suits your style and needs. I found a brand that is super eco-conscious and that gives back to the environment with every sale. TREE TRIBE plants 10 trees with every sale made off their website! Now, that's awesome. Find some here.

4. Swap your plastic grocery bags for reusable bags

The majority of grocery stores seem to be charging a few cents for every plastic bag now but too many of those end up in our environment, not recycled, and take decades and decades to decompose. Let's stop using them. Less demand, less supply. Eco-friendly alternative: Invest in the amount of these washable and reusable grocery bags, In my opinion though, old-fashioned paper bags would be the best option.

5. Swap your regular plastic floss containers with cardboard containers

You should definitely floss daily. But really, those things always end up being thrown in the garbage and not recycled. Eco-friendly alternative: When you purchase your next floss, consider getting something more eco-friendly like Eco-dent, for example. The floss is made from nylon waxed with a rice bran coating and comes in a recyclable cardboard container.

I hope you can find some inspiration from this article. If you have any other easy eco-friendly hacks you'd like to share let me know with a comment or shout! I'd love to hear what you're doing at your home or office to help the environment. If you have any questions hit me up!

- Catherine

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