In the face of constant reports regarding the rapid and rising impacts of pollution and climate change, a call to action can often seem overwhelming. While there is a lot to be said about federal, global, and industry action, the power to incite mass changes isn’t always in our hands. However, there are things that we can do in our everyday lives that can add up.
Swapping a coffee cup with a reusable mug may not seem like a large impact if you do it once, but what about bringing your own mug every day? If you’re one to drink two to three cups of coffee per day, that’s nearly a thousand coffee cups a year! That will surely cut down on your landfill contributions. According to David McLagan of Ecoffee Cup, "If two million people chose to reuse their cup just once a week, it would save 104 million cups a year."
Clearly small swaps can add up over time. More importantly, they are stepping stones to larger changes. Setting and meeting achievable green goals can make way for a sustainable lifestyle. If you are understandably overwhelmed and unsure where to start, here are some swaps you can incorporate today:
1. Invest in a reusable coffee mug and water bottle. This can be a real money-saver if you normally drink bottled water.
2. Buy bigger tubs of yogurt and other snacks instead of to-go containers. This requires a few minutes to portion out your food into a reusable snack container, but has the added benefits of saving money and reducing plastic.
3. Carry your own utensils. Having a handy set of travel utensils (and potentially, straws) can reduce plastic waste. Some examples can be found here.
4. Cut down on take-out meals. Those styrofoam containers they are packaged in are bad for the environment and our health, and are hopefully going extinct: Earlier this year, Maine became the first U.S. state to ban styrofoam containers.
While seemingly insignificant in the short term, just a few months of sustainable changes can make an impact. However, research suggests that people often feel satisfied with the small changes they make and forget to support the larger-scale policy and economic solutions that are necessary to save the planet. Congratulations on doing what you have thus far, and at the same time, let's keep our eyes on the prize!