Bringing your own shopping bags is probably the top tip when it comes to going green. Let's take this a step further. There is a community of people out there who try to eliminate waste from going to the landfill. You may see the hashtags #zerowaste floating around. The goal is to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Now many of us may not be able to do this on a daily basis, but there are a few extra steps you can make to reduce your impact besides just using reusable shopping bags.
Bring Your Own Bottle or Cup
From the earlier tip to Find Your Litter Factor, single-use products contribute the most to our landfills. Single-use remains in our environment for many years after the contents have been consumed. The easiest way to get around this is to Bring Your Own Bottle or Cup. It is probably the single best thing you can do to cut down on your waste and reduce your extra spending. This is currently my favorite water bottle, this is the best travel coffee mug as rated by Outside Mag, and this is one of the cutest reusable coffee cup.
Bring Your Own Produce Bags
This seems small and I don't think a lot of people think about this much because I see many people at the supermarkets with their reusable large shopping bags, but still take and use produce bags for every single fruit or vegetable they are buying. The alternative is to not use the bags or buy reusable cloth bags. These come in multiple sizes and can be used over and over again. I understand there may be a convenience to putting everything in a bag: easier to weigh all at once, provide separation from other purchased items, etc. The truth is majority of these plastic bags do end up in the landfill. This kind of plastic is not readily accepted by town recycling centers as it gets caught in the conveyor belts. It must be specially recycled. Many of us have the best intentions, but rarely do these end up in those recycling boxes outside of grocery stores. The next time you are at the grocery store, considering skipping the produce bags or get your own reusable bags.
You can buy reusable bags one-time or you can make them from old sheets or pillowcases or reuse an old lingerie bag with mesh. Get creative!
Bring Your Own Utensils
I'm sure you've seen the graphic below and there's a lot of truth to it.
We pay a price for convenience. Sometimes, we rarely consider the consequences of our actions. Similar to those produce plastic bags, plastic utensils are rarely recycled even though they can be. They are just too small and too cumbersome to be recycled by most centers. Their disposable nature means they end up in the landfill or at incineration plants. The life cycle of a plastic fork, spoon or knife is very resource intensive. Read more about it via this paper: A Life Cycle Analysis: A Plastic Fork.
To reduce the usage of plastic utensils, you can refuse it and always consider if you really need the utensils. You can also bring your own. Bamboo is a great alternative to plastic utensils. You can also bring camping utensils that are foldable and easy to carry.