Simple ways to live more eco-friendly

Grace Chalhoub, Staff writer; copy editor

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Finding ways to help the environment can be daunting, but luckily sustainability initiatives are rapidly increasing in popularity. Here are just a few, simple and inexpensive ways to start living more eco-friendly. 

Use Ecosia

The simplest way to help the environment? Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees, with roughly 45 searches planting one tree. How? By donating 80% of its income to planting trees, particularly in areas of the world that have suffered disproportionate amounts of deforestation. Ecosia has reported that it has planted more than 86,000,000 trees so far. In addition to helping the environment, this tree-planting provides jobs for people in third-world countries. 

When I first heard about Ecosia, it sounded too good to be true. But I did some research, and Forbes, Snopes and Browser Media confirmed that Ecosia is legitimate and dedicated to planting trees. Download Ecosia as an extension onto Google now by following this link and clicking Add to Chrome. 

Buy used books 

Buying used books is both more eco-friendly and cost-effective than buying new books. The Friends of the Library book sale is the greenest and most inexpensive place to buy books, with books ranging from $0.50-$2.00, and is especially helpful when purchasing classics or required reading for school.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at a used book sale, Better World Books is the next best place, with used books starting at $2.99. Every time you buy a book, you can choose carbon-balanced shipping for just a few cents more. And with every book you buy, a book goes to a child in need.  

Buy a reusable coffee cup

I bought an Ecoffee reusable coffee cup and love it. It’s durable, pretty and the standard size for a small (or Starbucks tall) cup of coffee. And once it has seen its wear, it’s biodegradable. I bought my Ecoffee cup at Posman Books at Avalon, but you can also order one online or find another brand. 

Limit beef and dairy products

You’ve probably heard that you should limit your intake of red meat, but what about dairy products? It can be intimidating to limit dairy, but there are some great alternatives to milk and other dairy products. For instance, oat milk shares the same nutritional value as dairy milk and, unlike some other milk alternatives like coconut or almond milk, is creamy and tastes good in coffee and tea. Oatly is an environmentally conscious oat-milk producer and you can find Oatly products at Publix, Kroger and other mainstream grocery stores. 

Replace toiletries 

Instead of using toothpaste out of plastic containers, purchase tooth powder that comes in reusable or recyclable glass containers. Replace your plastic toothbrush with a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, disposable razors with non-disposable razors, and toxic make-up wipes with biodegradable face-wipes. 

Reusable kitchenware

Replace plastic wrap with reusable beeswax covers, paper towels with Swedish dishcloths, and plastic vegetable bags with reusable vegetable bags. If you don’t like tupperware as a substitute for one-time use plastic bags, you can use reusable plastic bags. 

Buy recycled-brand paper products

Try to reuse paper products like folders and notebooks when you can. But when you really need new paper products, try buying recycled-brand paper products, like Decomposition and Greenroom. There are some paper products you may not think about buying recycled. For instance, Mudpuppy sells puzzles that are made of 90% recycled material. Keep a look out for other eco-friendly paper product brands or do some research.   

Reusable totes

We often hear that we should use reusable totes for grocery shopping, but what about shopping in general? More businesses are encouraging customers to bring their own bags, whether for clothing, books or home-goods shopping, so the next time you go shopping, bring a reusable canvas bag. 

Adopt an animal 

If you’re looking for the perfect gift, take a look at the WWF animal adoption program. You can adopt and help protect an endangered animal for $25, and WWF sends a certificate of adoption and picture of your animal. 

Look for carbon-offset initiatives

Georgia Natural Gas has recently released a carbon-offset initiative, in which you can add only $5 to your monthly power bill for carbon-offset. As discussed above, companies like Better World Books offer the option for carbon-balanced or carbon-neutral shipping, and many airlines have introduced a carbon-offset payment for your flight.  

Do some independent research

I drink a lot of tea, but it never occurred to me to research tea companies that support environmental or sustainability initiatives. While researching Ecosia I found out about other companies that plant trees and found Yorkshire Tea, which plants trees across the UK and Kenya. You may be surprised where you can support green initiatives, so make a list of products that you consume a lot of and do some research into how your consumption can be more sustainable.