Taking steps to save the planet can save you money and cost you little effort. You can go about your everyday life and start becoming more eco-focused from today.

Going green is not so hard to do – you can change your life by simply making a few adjustments. ‘Eco’ can stand for both ecological and economical, as the things we’re talking about are good for both the environment and your wallet at the same time.

Living sustainably doesn’t need to be difficult nor expensive. In some cases, it can even be cheaper and, in all cases, it is for the greater good – for the planet, for your children, for yourself, for your conscience. It means caring about the future and lives of ourselves and others.

We’re not offering radical measures here and no drastic changes to lifestyle or food preferences are required. The ideas listed are personally tested and easy to implement. Everything you’ll find in this article can be done super easily, without any additional effort. If you’re lazy, like me, that’s the way you can minimise the impact on the planet and hand it to the next generation in not too bad a shape.

plastic pollutionWhy bother at all?

Huge areas of our planet are turning into garbage sites, poisoning the ground and water. There are garbage islands and even continents in our oceans, the biggest of which is The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (in the north-central Pacific Ocean), which is three times bigger than the size of France. Whales and other (also almost extinct) mammals, birds and fish are dying due to plastic consumption. People eating fish can also be consuming microplastics without even knowing it.

What can I do? Reduce, recycle, reuse!

We can all aim to act in a manner that will help our planet. Here are some simple tips.

Sort you trash:

More and more countries give people the option to sort their garbage and personally make sure that anything that can be recycled goes in the correct recycling bin. Though, often even in the countries where recycling is well organised, there are a lot of people who don’t care and dump everything in one bin.

From our own experience, sorting doesn’t require much effort, especially when the containers are near to your home and you can dispose of the things easily. In Eastern Europe, for example, waste sorting is in its early stages of development and, even here, there are people who sort their trash, wash and store it for some time before bringing it to a recycling station/pick-up point.avoid plastic

There are also people who strive for a zero-waste lifestyle, which deserves admiration but not everyone is ready for such a commitment. It’s definitely not easy at all, especially in the world run by consumerism – but even if you don’t go zero waste, you can always try for lower waste. Read on for suggestions to lower your waste output.

Note: Smokers, please do put cigarette butts into bins. They make a big portion of toxic waste which pollutes the Earth and water.

Avoid plastic:

Plastic never decomposes – it only breaks down into microplastic and stays with us forever. The good news is you can avoid using it!

Use your own bags and containers for your groceries, buy products in glass or carton, reuse the bags and packaging wherever you can. Fruit, vegetables, even bread can be carried home in reusable containers.

avoid plastic• When it comes to cleaning products, you can avoid plastic entirely if you change from liquid to solid. Everybody knows about solid bars of soap but how about solid shampoo and conditioner. Imagine how much plastic you can avoid if use these instead of liquid ones in hard plastic bottles. And you know what? Eco-friendly solid products are even better than their liquid counterparts that you find in supermarkets. They don’t contain any of the harsh chemicals that are found in most commercial brands. They also last longer, leave your hair shiny and soft, and you can take them easily on a plane.

natural detergentConsider powder detergent instead of a liquid one or – even better – opt for the natural laundry detergent option: use soap nuts. Sometimes called eco nuts, these are actually the shell of a berry and they contain a cleaning agent called saponin. They are natural, good for the skin (ideal for sensitive skin) and wash as well as any other detergent. Using them means you also reduce chemical impact.

• Ditch plastic and use a bamboo toothbrush. Using a bamboo-based toothbrush eliminates unnecessary waste while giving you the same quality of cleaning that a plastic brush can offer. With both the packaging and tossing of your toothbrush, recycling, reusing, or composting has never been easier.

bamboo toothbrush

Look at your wardrobe:

Clothes contribute a lot to pollution. Almost all modern fabrics have synthetic ingredients, which means that clothes shed microplastic with every wash and don’t decompose for long when disposed.  What can be done? Buy less, opt for clothes made of natural fabrics, and only what you really like and what will spark joy when you wear it. You can give a new lease of life to old garments by upcycling them (revamp them or change them into something else), buying second-hand clothes, and making sure to give away (recycle!) those items you don’t wear anymore. Never throw your clothes in the garbage. Someone can always make use of your cast offs.

Say no to disposable tableware:

• Take your own tumbler for a coffee-to-go. Some cafes even give you a discount for your own cup.
• Get a set of metal/wooden cutlery – it doesn’t take much space in your bag.
• Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying a new one every time you feel thirsty.
• Say no to straws. If you cannot live without a straw in your milkshake, then buy your own reusable one (you can get metal, silicone or glass straws) and take it with you.

no more loo roll Go paperless:

Can you do without toilet paper? Yes, you can! If you’ve been to Asia, you’ve probably noticed little showers in the toilets. What are they for? Well, they are to be used instead of toilet paper. Using water instead of paper is good for both hygiene and environment – less waste and more trees will stay growing. For example, you can buy toilet showers on bol.com (we recommend to install with this addition).

Seek alternatives:

Just because we have done things the same way for years, doesn’t mean we need to keep on doing it. Women’s monthly cycles are one such area where we can look for alternatives that would result in less waste. Menstrual cups could be the solution. They are made of medical silicone, a durable material that means this wonderful invention is a more hygienic alternative to tampons and pads. They are not only eco-friendly, they also save on costs (one cup can be used for 10 years). Plus, you never run out of supply.

refillable jars

Reduce emissions:

• Take a bike or public transport.
• Buy local produce – at local markets (like the Botemarkt or Grotemarkt in Haarlem) or even at a nearby farm and mill.

Where to buy necessities with the lowest imprint? There are a number of options available. Search for a zero-waste shop near you. One such example in Haarlem is Oodles and Pinches (you can order online too).

Why me?

If not you, then who? Start the change, be the change and the rest will follow. Or not, but at least a tiny bit of this world will be better – and all because of you. If we don’t act, now, our children will be living and swimming in waste, and eating and drinking products filled with plastic.

Start the change, be the change and the rest will follow

Do you have anything to ask or add? You are welcome to comment under this post.

This article is based on the original blogpost on Frogs in the Box.

Julia Smile