It’s tough to admit it, but for many of us, convenience sometimes beats being green. We’re a single-serve generation — consuming everything from our morning coffee to our evening mealtime in one-and-done fashion. And as environmentally-conscious as we are, more single-serve items are offered now than ever before.
So how can you stop being part of the problem? Here are some single-serve items you can stop using now.
Single-serve coffee pods
Since it was introduced in 2008, single serve coffee has erupted in popularity in recent years. All of the K-Cups sold in 2013 would wrap around the earth 10 1/2 times, according to Mother Jones. And don’t get me wrong — those little coffee pods are infinitely better than traditional coffee in some ways — less mess, virtually no cleanup, and so much quicker (yes, they are also delicious). The problem with all these single-serve pods? Most are not recyclable. Keurig plans to make their products recyclable by 2020, but until then (and that’s if people recycle them), that’s a lot of pods filling up landfills. If you haven’t bought a single-serve coffee or espresso machine yet, resist the urge and stick to brewing coffee yourself. It’s a lot less money and a whole lot less waste.
If you are still going through water bottles well, like water, it’s time to get with the program. Water in water bottles is no better for you than tap water and it’s certainly not more sustainable. Even though water bottles are the most recycled item in people’s houses, more than 80 percent of all water bottles still end up in the trash, and that means more water bottles clogging up landfills and getting tossed around in our oceans for years and years. Instead, buy yourself an environmentally friendly reusable bottle (or dust it off from inside your cabinet) and fill ‘er up. If you need more motivation to kick the water bottle habit, check out these five excellent reasons.
Dryer sheets seem low on the totem pole of single-serve items that we need to stop using. After all, how could something that smells like lavender be bad, right? Wrong. Dryer sheets actually contain a myriad of chemicals, that when washed with your laundry, leave a filmy residue of said chemicals on your clothes, nestled close to your body for as long as you wear your underwear. My dermatologist actually told me to stop using dryer sheets altogether when my oldest was diagnosed with eczema because the chemicals in them can irritate skin. I don’t use them at all, and aside for the occasional sock sticking to the back of my skirt, I don’t notice a single bit of difference. Of course, if you can’t go cold turkey and you’re interested in a natural alternative that essentially accomplishes the same purpose, you have some pretty neat options.
I don’t know about you, but I have a whole drawer of plastic utensils from restaurant takeout in our house. Unfortunately, those utensils often can’t be recycled so they often just get thrown in the garbage. A new program Eco-To-Go encourages restaurants to skip the plastic utensils. To see if your favorite takeout place participates in their program, just go to their website. Or, the next time you order from them, ask the restaurant staff to pack the food you ordered to go without plastic utensils. And encourage them to join the program.
Plastic bags weren’t even that popular until the 1980s, but as of today, 1 million of them are used every minute in virtually every store across the globe. Albeit convenient, plastic bags take more than 1,000 years to disintegrate and remain toxic even after they’re decomposed. The solution? Many local authorities in Hawaii have already banned plastic bag distribution in stores, as have some cities in the U.S. as well. Despite the latest hiccup, the state of California is poised to be the first to do it on a state-wide level. But it is still a long way from going into effect in many places. What can you do, meanwhile? Use paper bags that can be recycled or get your own reusable bags to bring to the store.