Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Years of environmental activism, education and work towards a better future have landed us in what is probably the weirdest Earth Day in the 50-year period. With the stay-at-home orders being placed across the United States, there are many more restrictions on what activities you can partake in to celebrate the planet this year. One of the easiest and safest (considering quarantine) ways to change your lifestyle to be more environmentally friendly this year is to work to remove single-use plastics and add longer-lasting items. Here are some of the more convenient, everyday swaps to celebrate with this Earth Day.
Switching from a plastic razor to a metal/safety razor
Though it may seem convenient to pick up the bulk packages of plastic razors from the closest convenience store, the plastic waste generated from that situation may go under the radar. The amount of plastic razors (and their refill cartridges) that end up in U.S. landfills every year is nothing to scoff at, coming in at approximately two billion every year. A sustainable way to stay smooth can come in the form of a safety razor or a metal razor, which often ends up being cheaper in the long run due to only having to buy individual blades.
If you are looking to switch on a budget, there are many reasonably priced safety razors on the market. Though you need to be more careful shaving with a safety razor, the positives of using one are worth it. Not only do the blade replacements end up being only pennies, but they can also help prevent ingrown hair better than traditional plastic ones.
If you are willing to shell out a little more cash and want a razor that’s a similar model to your plastic standby, Leaf has got you covered. Though the prices are a bit steep ($79 for their starter kit), the initial investment will eventually start paying for itself in more ways than one.
(For menstruating people) Switch from single-use hygiene products to a menstrual cup or reusable tampon applicator
As people with periods may know, menstrual cycles can create a ton of single-use waste every month. Going through tampons, pads, liners and the packaging that comes with can add up. The average menstruating person can use up to 9,120 tampons or 2,280 pads in their lifetime, and the lifetime costs are high to boot, being 1,773.33 and 443.33, respectively (as cited from the source above). An alternative option that is friendlier on the planet and your wallet can come in the form of reusable tampon applicators, period panties, or menstrual cups. Some of the common brands of these items are linked below.
Thinx period underwear. If using other eco-friendly period products might seem intimidating at first to you, period underwear is the perfect way to dip your toe into the pool of sustainable menstrual hygiene products. These can be worn with a pad/tampon as added protection if your cycle is extra heavy, or they can be worn on their own if you feel comfortable enough on your lighter days. The brand Thinx has tons of different styles and absorbencies, so the experience is super customizable. Either way, these can be an excellent option for adding more sustainability to your life.
DAME. Reusable tampon applicator. If you are 100% team tampon and there is no swaying you, there is still a green (and pretty affordable) change you can add to your period routine. Enter the reusable tampon applicator.
Divacup menstrual cup. Although there are tons of brands of period cups out there, Divacup is the most popular and often stocked in grocery stores, such as Target. Finding the perfect menstrual cup can be a bit of a trial and error, and figuring the insertion out can have a bit of a learning curve, but the payoff is well worth it in the long run.
Switch from a plastic toothbrush to a bamboo one
You may not realize it, but the item you use twice a day, every day (hopefully), can be one of the easiest sustainable swaps of all. According to Medium, about 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away by people in the United States alone. That number is likely astronomically higher when the rest of the world is factored in. If that number discourages you, there are a few eco-friendly toothbrush options you can utilize to remove your waste from that number.
The most common sustainable toothbrush option is likely that of the bamboo toothbrush. The coolest thing about this specific toothbrush (from a package-free shop, a favorite of mine) is that almost everything about it is compostable except the bristles, and that includes the packaging the toothbrush is shipped in. At the end of the toothbrush’s life, just cut off the bristles (and recycle them) and then bury the toothbrush in your yard or planter or something. All in all, this is probably one of the simplest disposal methods on the list.
There are tons of other sustainable swaps that I did not have the space to list here, but this is just a starter list to get you in the spirit to celebrate Earth Day. Even though this year’s celebrations may be slightly unconventional with COVID-19, there are still safe, easy and greenways to celebrate our planet.