How to be Eco-Friendlier in 2020

First of all, Happy New Year! If you’ve made resolutions, take steps to keep them. One of my resolves this year is to be more eco-friendly in our household than we already are. One step I plan to take is making unpaper towels – if you don’t know what that is, read on!

We Swiss are very environmentally conscious; there’s a caricature, not far off the mark, that goes like this: When a Swiss has a tea, they then put the tea leaves in the compost, the string in the cloth collection, the tag in the cardboard collection, the staple in the metal collection, and the bag in the paper collection. We’re not that extreme – we drink tea without bags! [On a side note to tea bags: A news article recently highlighted a shocking find: One tea bag in a cup of hot water can produce BILLIONS of microparticles of plastic. No joke. I’ve started taking the teas we have and making my own loose-tea mix… I’ll buy loose tea from now on.]

But seriously, the amount of waste one produces in a year is horrendous. How each country deals with their own waste would probably shock you, too; many don’t burn it, or even bury it; they export it… to Asia, to Africa – whoever has the best price. How they deal with your rubbish is then out of your government’s hands – they’ve just flipped the problem onto someone else. How much of that rubbish ends up blown or dumped into the ocean. I don’t want to know, honestly – it would probably sicken me. Switzerland, as far as I have been able to find out, doesn’t practice export; we have incinerators that turn the rubbish into steam energy.

So the best solution is to begin solving the problem at home. Any movement that is successful starts with the individual – starts with changing the mindset of a culture one person at a time. I keep my eyes open for innovative ways to be more eco-friendly; I do a LOT of upcycling crafts, using most plastic (including magazine wraps, product packaging, plastic rings, produce nets, etc.), and everything else; my Pinterest boards will give you inspiration if you’re looking for ways to upcycle creatively. But if you’re not into crafts, there are still a lot of ways to become more environmentally friendly, and here are a few:

  • Plastic wrap replacements: Beeswax-infused cloth
  • Unpaper-Towels: Cloth towels in the kitchen – reusable, washable, no waste!
  • Drinking Straws: Purchase metal straws; they usually come with a small scrub brush, and are easy to clean. I keep a microfiber cloth on my drying rack to set smaller things on to dry. If you google metal drinking straws, you can either find a shop near you that sells them, or you can buy them online; just keep in mind shipping waste if online-shopping.
  • Cloth Napkins / Serviettes instead of paper napkins.
  • Water Conservation: Take shorter showers, turning off the water stream when you’re soaping or shampooing; turn off the sink water in between actually using it. If washing a lot of dishes, either fill your dishwasher space-efficiently and to capacity, or use a larger bowl, etc. to reuse soapy water in the sink; when it’s dirty, dump it and allow the bowl to refill as you wash more dishes. Fill your clothes washing machine to capacity – never wash only a few items at a time! I have a machine that tells me if a load is too heavy for a particular setting; I can choose anywhere between 3 and 9 kilos, and it will conserve water by the settings I choose.
  • Cleaning Chemicals: Either purchase refillable, natural cleaning liquids (remember, it all goes into the water canals) or make your own from vinegar and water and baking soda, adding lemon juice or a few drops of lemon essential oils for that clean aroma.
  • Room-to-Room Guide to a Zero Waste Home
  • Junk Mail: If you get unwanted mail, mark it “cancel” and “return to sender”. Just recycling it doesn’t solve the main issue, which is the flood of destroyed trees… Send the message to the perpetrators that it is unwanted.

Here are a few visuals to add food for thought; as with all things reduced to a j-peg, some of these make sense, while others don’t. Take them with a grain of salt, and be inspired to try helpful ideas out in your own home:

Eco-Friendly Tips to Save CashGlass vs PlasticGreen Your HouseHow Long Until It's GoneJunk MailPlastic BagsPlastic Spoons, ProcessReduce your wasteSingle Use SwapsTrees Saved

Turtles and Plastic Bags

Please let me know in the comments below what you do to be more eco-friendly and conserve the environment!  Have a great 2020 – and let’s make it one step closer to caring for the planet and the animals we share it with!

 

6 Comments

Filed under Articles, Images, Links to External Articles, Lists, Musings

6 responses to “How to be Eco-Friendlier in 2020

  1. Cloth towels and napkins. Wash dishes by hand. No straws. Return bottles both glass and plastic to depots and use the credit to lower the cost of shopping. Short showers every second day or even third. What is that obsession about daily showering anyway?
    That’s it for now. I’ll think up other pollution free methods. Don’t support coal driven energy! Kick out those governments that still think it is better to keep burning coal, denying climate change.

  2. we’re in the process of changing our diet. We have not become vegetarian or vegan but we are trying to limit the amount of meat we eat. Vegetable stews, soups, vegetarian lasagnas, curries etc. Wishing you all the best in 2020!

  3. I agree with everything except washing dishes by hand; fill the dishwasher (if the option is available) to capacity, and then use it on a water-saving cycle. Kitchen sinks spray 7-15 litres (2-5 gallons) of water per MINUTE. If water is left running while washing up, you’ve used up the entire water of one dishwasher load. The only things we wash up by hand are either utensils like sharp knives, wooden spoons, or things that would take up too much space in the dishwasher. Then we turn off the water until ready to rinse it off.
    We don’t earn credit for returning glass and plastic here; but we have depots in our town for metal, glass, old clothing, and now also for plastic; we take old oils and hazardous waste to a disposal processing business here in our town. Every grocery store has recycling collections for plastic bottles, water filters and batteries. Old appliances & electronic equipment can be returned to any store that sells such items – they are obliged under Swiss law to accept and dispose of them properly, whether the items were purchased there or not.

  4. There are so many great ways to prepare vegetables! I often cook meatless, though sometimes we’ll have Swiss sausages, or Swiss-grown chicken meat. If buying meat, make sure it’s locally grown (not just “produced”) – it will likely be more healthy (less stressed than when trucking live animals and then slaughtering them). The same stress factor should also be considered if buying eggs; free-range chickens are healthier and less stressed than those confined unnaturally – their stress hormones will end up in the foods we eat…

  5. Fantastic resources about smart and useful ways to live. Thank you! Happy New Year!–Christopher

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