We’ve all seen the heartbreaking video of scientists pulling a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose, and the depressing photos of dead wildlife with plastic in their stomachs or caught around their bodies. Living a vegan lifestyle certainly helps to cut down on personal waste drastically, but there’s still so much we can do as individuals to try to live as sustainably as possible—especially in our current environmental climate. This Earth Day, follow these nine vegan and eco-friendly, plastic-free steps to help animals and our planet.
1. Carry a reusable water bottle
Always, always, always carry a sturdy, reusable water bottle with you (preferably one made of bamboo or stainless steel) to cut down on the hugely wasteful practice of buying plastic water bottles from the store. Not only is store-bought water vastly overpriced (water should be free!), but all those bottles sure do pile up. Load up your bottle with some adorable and fierce vegan stickers and stay hydrated!
2. Create homemade household cleaners
Many household cleaners are tested on animals, packaged in plastic, and carry harsh chemicals that are environmentally damaging, but a handy (and green!) solution is to mix up your own using ingredients you probably already have on hand. For example, combine olive oil with coarse sea salt to scrub your cast-iron skillets shiny clean.
3. Ask for no straw while ordering take out or delivery
While this might seem like a small act, we waste approximately 185 million plastic straws a year (ending up in landfills or waterways). Ask for no straw when you order your drink, but take it to the next level by investing in a stainless steel or glass straw you can reuse again and again. The sea turtles will thank you!
4. Make your own face masks
Yes, those trendy, single-use sheet masks may be all the rage on Instagram, but they also create a lot of waste. Make your own skin-clearing, healing mask at home by combining 1 tablespoon bentonite clay with 1 tablespoon filtered water. No animal testing, simple ingredients, and easily customizable with additions like cacao, turmeric, and tea tree essential oil make that a win in our book.
5. Invest in biodegradable bags for your animal companion’s waste
Even your furry family members can join you on your green journey. Swap out plastic dog poop bags and cat litter liners for biodegradable ones to easily cut down on pet related waste. P.S. Did you know that vegan dog food is a more sustainable alternative to animal-derived varieties? Check out V-Dog and Halo!
6. Don’t forget your reusable grocery bags
Stow a few reusable bags in your car for essential trips to the grocery store and avoid getting those judgemental stares at the Whole Foods checkout. Get a few with cute vegan messages to spread some subtle (or not so subtle) messages while stocking up on your fresh produce and vegan burgers.
Package Free Shop
7. Swap your body care essentials for plastic-free alternatives
Everyone has staple products they use for basic hygiene practices: razors, loofahs, hairbrushes, and toothbrushes (to name a few). Instead of always rebuying and using short-term products, swap for long-lasting, cruelty-free, environmentally safe options, and your beauty routine will be an eco-friendly dream in no time.
8. Don’t throw out your produce—freeze it
Do your spotty, brown bananas have you considering tossing them? Stop! Peel and freeze them instead! Then make one of these delicious smoothie or smoothie bowl recipes. And wait before you toss out your vegetable scraps or wilting carrots! You can also add those to a container in your freezer to turn into delicious homemade vegetable broth. Homemade alternatives are always package-free and fresher!
Vegan Yack Attack
9. Meal prep
Spend your Sundays (or any day of the week now that we’re home) making simple meals or staple items like baked tofu, roasted veggies, and cooked grains that can be thrown together in a pinch. Not only will this help your wallet when lunchtime rolls around, but it cuts down on wasteful take-out containers and utensils. Plus, if you live in an area that’s not very vegan-friendly, you’ll always be prepared with something to eat.
Sarah McLaughlin is the New Products Editor at VegNews and is always looking for easy ways to eliminate plastic.
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