Simple, Doable Changes I Made to Help the Environment (& You Can Too!)

As a highly-sensitive person, it can become very overwhelming to think about all that’s going wrong in the world. Even turning on the news for a few minutes, I can feel my chest tightening. And often, when we get overwhelmed, we can begin to feel helpless, as if there’s no point in us doing anything, because we surely can’t do everything.

We can’t save the whole world ourselves, that’s for sure. But instead of trying to save the whole planet, and save every suffering animal, and every hungry human, we can try to incorporate small changes into our daily life. We can add in changes that feel completely manageable, so that we’re far more likely to stick to it without giving up out of hopelessness or frustration.

Obviously, the changes occurring with our planet are devastating. After witnessing the hurricane and storms in my state, I know more than ever that I must do something, however small. I am by no means an expert on this subject, and I know there are many, many more ways to help the environment than what I am doing. But again, it’s best to start with manageable, practical things that can be weaved into our daily lives without stress.

I would LOVE to hear about other suggestions you have, or what you have been doing to help out our planet as well!

-Watch how much plastic you use at the grocery store.

I’ve used reusable bags for years now, and Austin has a ban on single-use plastic bags (yay!), so we really have no choice. But I started to get annoyed when I noticed how much plastic I was using when I would buy produce.

Those 5 lemons had a thin plastic bag. The head of broccoli. The 3 zucchini. The lettuce. On and on. And when I would get home, that bag would be tossed (or used as a dog poopy bag for Greg).

I decided to order some reusable produce bags. They were about $10 on Amazon and I’ve loved using them. That way, I can bag all of my yummy veggies without worrying about how much awful plastic I’m wasting.

In addition, I try to buy things that aren’t overly packaged. Sometimes it’s unavoidable (food packaging is crazy!). But we can start to notice whether we have to buy something all wrapped up in a plastic container, or if there’s an alternative.

-Try out a menstrual cup.

For my ladies. When I thought about how much WASTE I was producing on my period- all those tampons, pads, their individual packaging, etc.- it seemed so unnecessary. Also, let’s be honest, it gets expensive every month.

So I decided to try using a menstrual cup. A few weeks ago, I purchased a LENA Cup. These cups can last for years and would eliminate all of that waste from other feminine hygiene products.

I did a lot of research before I used it, watching YouTube tutorials and reading articles. I was really excited to use it and…. it didn’t work. Ha! It leaked every single time I used it, plus it hurt to put in and was difficult to take out. About mid-way through, I gave up because I had places to be where I couldn’t leak (like teaching).

But I’ve heard from so many others that it takes several cycles to get the hang of it and to figure out how it works for your individual body. So yes! I’m going to keep at it until I figure it out. (If anyone has any tips or tricks here, help a girl out!)

If menstrual cups aren’t your thing, or if they don’t end up working for you, definitely consider switching from plastic applicators to cardboard. I’ve honestly never used plastic, and back in school, girls would cringe if they borrowed a tampon from me because they thought the cardboard was weird. It’s not. It’s degradable. It gets immediately thrown out, so who cares what it looks or feels like?

-Say no to straws.

This is one I’m still getting used to. Out at restaurants, I’ve been an avid straw-user for as long as I can remember. But then I read about how plastic straws are one of the top items found on beaches and in the water.

It’s estimated that in the U.S., about 500 million straws are used and thrown away every day. Wow! Just think about what that does to the poor marine animals and their environment. This plastic doesn’t degrade. So it just stays there, disrupting everything.

So once I decided that I wouldn’t be using straws at restaurants anymore, I was surprised to find that the waiters would place the straws down on the table without us even asking. And it’s my guess that they probably throw those straws away even if we don’t end up opening them (for sanitary reasons I’m sure).

So now, I have to make it a point to tell the waiters ahead of time that I won’t be needing a straw, and not waiting for them to ask. Or if I see them start to put down the straws, I politely inform them I don’t need it.

If you’d like to drink from a straw, like when you’re driving and need easy drinking access, consider purchasing reusable straws.

-Meal plan to reduce food waste.

I used to cook every night during the week. But then I found that, yikes, I was throwing away a lot of food! Produce that went bad. Cooked leftovers we didn’t have time to eat.

So I decided to change it up. Now, I only cook on Monday and Tuesday nights, and then we eat the leftovers of those same meals on Wednesday and Thursdays. We’re only two people right now, so this works. If you’ve got a family, maybe not!

But simply meal planning on Sunday evenings has helped reduce our waste a lot. I plan out the meals, write down all the ingredients I need from the store, and then stick to it once I shop. That way, I know exactly what I’ll need and we often don’t have anything else to throw away.

Along the same lines… I’ve been wanting to get into composting but feel like I don’t know enough yet. If anyone has any suggestions on that, let us know in the comments!

This is by no means a comprehensive list of what I do, or what you CAN do, for the environment. I just thought I’d start a little conversation in case anyone is feeling as distraught as I am about the state of the world. Let’s be kind to our sweet Mother Earth.

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