In the summer, when it is hot and I need a cold beverage, I always stop at my favorite coffee shop on Pearl, with my water bottle in hand.
After ordering an iced tea at the counter, I ask the person if they can fill up my water bottle instead of a single-use cup. They happily say yes and mark off some money.
Now that it is winter, I love to use an insulated and reusable mug, like a Contigo or Yeti, to grab a hot chocolate or sweet chai.
I make my routine work for myself and the planet because as a global community, we have many environmental issues on our hands. In my opinion, the most pressing ones are single-use items, abundant plastic waste, and unsustainable transportation. Yet, there is hope on the horizon.
In our daily lives, we can choose to reuse, avoid plastics, and use public transport.
Reusable containers for lunches, snacks, leftover food, and drinks make a huge positive environmental impact. Each time you use a reusable alternative to plastic, you are not supporting the fossil fuel industry to keep creating plastics. Changing habits is not easy, but if you begin to carry, use, wash, and clean reusable items like travel mugs, glass food containers, and metal silverware, it becomes more familiar, feels good, and protects the earth.
Avoid Plastic Packaging
Do you ever notice how much plastic waste results from a Costco run or trip to the grocery store? In many stores, the products we use daily are coated in plastic. Many companies choose single-use containers because they keep food fresh, items sealed, and prices low. There are alternative ways for consumers to get food and other products without the packaging.
Building routines is an important step in implementing more earth oriented strategies into your life.
Here are some ideas on shopping almost zero-waste:
>>Farmers markets: fresh organic produce—no packaging; check dates and times.
>> Bulk and zero-waste stores—Nude Foods Market in Boulder, Colorado, and Simply Bulk in Longmont, Colorado, are two.
>> Sustainable cooking—use bulk sourced items, collected with your own jars and containers so there is less plastic involved in your masterpieces.
>> Eco lifestyles—watch, copy, and learn from mentors! See if their strategies work for your lifestyle. If not, change them to fit your groove better.
>> Cloth bags and containers—bring your own for veggies, fruits, bulk, and more.
Boulder County has a neat bus system and can be used by everybody. Tip: anyone 19 and under can ride free on public transport in Boulder County. I suggest trying the bus to get to and from work or school. Number one tip for first timers: the day before, get your schedule down by checking the RTD app. I like to wake up a little earlier than usual. One time, I missed the RTD bus because I forgot to check the schedule. I saw it leave Broadway and Regent (20th street) while I was waiting to cross the road, yikes! The importance of timing.
If you drive into town, consider carpooling with someone you know. You might gain a new friend!
Finally, walking and biking. Boulder has so many bike paths that go all over town, getting you places fast and efficiently without the emissions. I bike to my job regularly and really enjoy it. I suggest getting a good lock for your bike and not leaving it after dark or overnight. I recommend this because when I left my bike overnight after school, my seat was gone by morning! I have many other tragic bike anecdotes, but I will not go there.
If you apply earth-helping strategies like reuse, staying away from plastic packaging, and alternative transportation to your daily life in a way that fits your lifestyle, you will know that you are bettering your own well-being and the planet’s well-being. If you are extra ambitious and want more specific ways to reduce your waste, look at my presentation that I made here.