The Three Easiest Zero Waste Swaps

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The idea of major lifestyle changes to live more green may make you panic a little. Same here. Still. Thankfully, small changes and little swaps here and there can have a big influence. These three swaps are things anyone can do; the only hard part is remembering them. So if you're not ready to plunge into the world of zero-waste or go completely plasticless, that's okay. These are great ways to reduce your footprint and bring more beauty into your everyday life. Because, let's be honest, plastic isn't all that nice to look at.

1. REUSABLE WATERBOTTLE

This is probably the easiest thing on this list because I’ll bet you have a few of these stashed away already. Dust off your favorite water bottle, it need not be fancy (right now I’m using a S’well bottle my husband got for free from a recruiting night), and bring it with you wherever you go. Or buy a new bottle you’re excited about so you’ll remember it when you walk out the door. Fill your bottle on the go at drinking fountains or ask your server/barista to fill it with filtered water; they're usually very accommodating.

2. STAINLESS STEEL STRAWS

...or rose gold or bamboo or glass... there are so many options out there now. If you're reading this you've probably heard the stat that about 500 million plastic straws are used every single day in the U.S. Switching over to reusable straws is an easy way to start making a difference. Plus you'll feel a lot classier drinking out of a stainless steel straw. I used to hate using straws because I felt like a little kid sucking out of a plastic tube, but switching to stainless changed that. They're small enough to slip into a purse or bag for when you go out, and a quick rinse in a bathroom sink or wipe-down with a napkin later, and they're ready to go back in your bag.

3. REUSABLE GROCERY BAGS

You already know about reusable grocery bags. They're available everywhere, and you may already have some. But do you remember to take them with you to the store? Do you feel silly when you do? I did at first, too. In fact, I bought three reusable bags a few years ago when Texas put a 5-cent tax on plastic bags, but they sat under my sink until we moved. Earlier this year I tried again - I bought two produce bags and rounded up a few others I already had, and since then I've only forgotten them once or twice. Why the difference? This may sound superficial, but it worked for me: I remembered to bring my bags when I thought they were beautiful and wanted to use them. I was excited to see vegetables and fruits in them, and they still bring me joy when I look at them or take them to the store. My first bags were the typical plastic-y grocery store bags, but I purchased fabric ones the second time around (these ones), and it has made a difference! And after the first trip or two to the store I didn't feel awkward about it at all.

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Give these swaps a try - even if you commit to just a week or a month. The goal is to make life-long changes, but starting is the hardest part. So if you think about it not as eliminating plastic but as bringing beautiful things into your life, it can make the habit shift easier. And pretty soon it'll be second nature.

What is your favorite easy swap? (It doesn't have to be one of these!)