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Starting The New Year Off Right: Simple Steps To Help The Enviroment

New year, new you! That’s something I tell myself every time the clock strikes 12 a.m. on the first day of the new year. But oftentimes, I find myself struggling with getting started. For those of you who are interested in helping the environment in 2017 but are having a little trouble getting started, check out these 5 easy swaps you can make to kick-off the new year!

Image via Gippsland Unwrapped

1. Swap a plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one

Bamboo toothbrushes are all the rage in the zero waste community! But you don’t have to lead a zero waste lifestyle to invest in your own. Bamboo toothbrushes are fairly affordable and are made of bamboo, a plant that has a fast growth rate and is biodegradable. The handles of these toothbrushes can be reused or composted while the packaging (if cardboard) can be recycled. The bristles in most cases can be recycled if done so in a proper manner. Switching toothbrushes is an easy swap that can help remove yourself from the equation of between 850 million, and over a billion toothbrushes that enter landfills each year.

Image via Business Insider

2. Ditch the plastic bottles and try a refillable one

Refillable bottles are great to have on the go and make it easy to hydrate yourself and monitor your daily water intake. Not only that, using a refillable bottle helps the environment by not contributing to the already large number of plastic bottles that make up landfills. While plastic bottles take 450 – 1,000 years to decompose in landfills, reusable bottles such as those made of aluminum can be recycled and repurposed for years to come!

Image via Bill Track 50

3. Skip the plastic and use reusable bags

We’ve all heard how important it is to shop with reusable bags. However, even with this common knowledge, many people continue to opt for plastic bags. While in some cases, plastic bags are more convenient, unlike reusable cotton bags, they take between 20 and 1,000 years to break down and often end up in landfills. If you’re still not convinced, take into consideration that when comparing reusable bags and plastic ones, reusable bags are sturdier and are also fairly convenient to have on hand in case of emergency. Plus, there’s a good chance that you have some lying around, just waiting to be used!

Image via Brit + Co.

4. Test out reusable feminine hygiene products

If you have a period and have the money to try new products, consider purchasing a menstrual cup or reusable pads. While these items can be a bit pricey upfront, in the long run, they are healthier for your body and after a few months, pay for themselves when you compare their one-time price to the monthly price you’d spend otherwise on pads or tampons.

Image via Zen Bedrooms

5. Skip the paper towel and use a cloth one

Not only do cloth towels look nice and allow oneself to express their personality, they also are a great way to help the environment! Swapping paper towels for cloth towels will save you money and unwanted trips to the store and are always nice to have when guests come around.

All in all, I hope these tips help you make your 2017 a great one! This new year, remember to keep in mind that even the smallest of things can make a positive difference.

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Lauren Breach
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Lauren Breach is a junior from Austin, Texas. In her free time, Lauren enjoys leading a social justice discussion group at her school called 'Real Talk', advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, and drinking coffee. When she is not writing, Lauren can be found taking portraits of her friends and listening to The Smiths.

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