My whole life, I have been obsessed with ocean conservation, national parks, and camping. I was so in love with the environment but thought there wasn’t much I could do to protect it. I always thought I had to be a scientist to care for the environment. I thought change was for policymakers and CEOs. I thought normal people like me just live their daily lives and hope to see change one day from more important people in more important places.
But as time went on and I felt more unsettled by the state of our planet, I felt like I couldn’t sit still. And in this time where I couldn’t decide if my actions mattered, I saw this quote:
“I always thought someone should do something about that, and then I realized I was someone.”
So, I decided to live like my actions matter. I thought I might as well try it, right? I started lowering my impact on the planet, and you know what? People saw me, and others started to make more sustainable choices, too. See, the ripple effect is a real thing. The influence we have on our friends and family is a real thing. And the difference we can make when our decisions combine is enormous. These individual actions we make together turn into giant changes around us like companies opening organic food sections, personal care products ditching plastic, and airports having refillable water bottle stations on every corner.
I started realizing my individual actions make a difference, and now I can’t help but notice the change around me. Your small decisions make a difference, too. So here are some simple ways to have a positive impact on the planet!
Overconsumption is a huge part of the problem when it comes to pollution, so simply buying less already makes you a more conscious consumer.
Euro News states that “Overall consumption needs to be reduced rather than just being ‘greened’ by switching to supposedly sustainable products.”1
One of the easiest ways to avoid buying in excess is to simply think before you purchase something. I like to ask myself if I’ll still like this item in a couple of years, if I have a similar item at home, or if this item is easy to buy secondhand. Another way to avoid impulse purchases is to implement a buying rule. It could be to wait one hour, 24 hours, or even a week before purchasing something you want. If you still want this product by the end of the time restraint, you’re good to go! This rule helps reduce impulse purchases and helps us save our money for the things we actually want.
This is simpler than you might think. If you’re looking in the produce section and see a package of broccoli, see if there is package-free broccoli instead. Try buying oatmeal packaged in one big box instead of in individual servings. Skip grocery and produce bags and bring reusable bags.
If you’re buying things like soda, buy in aluminum instead of plastic bottles (aluminum is infinitely recyclable where plastic is not). Or you can buy olive oil in glass instead of plastic. You can also seek out products that prioritize sustainable packaging. For example, Glad is working toward a goal to have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025, and has already achieved 99% recyclable paperboard packaging as of 2021!
Another easy way to make a difference is when making a purchasing decision, look for products made from recycled materials (hint hint — if we care about recycling, we should support products made from recycled materials). When companies use recycled materials, that means they are using less virgin material. More things than you might realize can be made from recycled materials like shampoo bottles and even bedding! And that’s why I love Glad’s ForceFlexPlus Recovered Plastic trash bags. They are made with 50% recovered plastic (20% recycled plastic and 30% reclaimed plastic). And all of Glad’s kitchen drawstring trash bags use 7–22% less plastic versus top 10 competitors. Where I live, it is required to bag my trash, so the small step I can make is to use a bag that is made with less plastic. Glad even has a 50% Plant-Based2 Cling’n Seal™ Food Wrap. A more eco-friendly food storage choice with a lower environmental impact at the beginning of its life cycle. It helps keep your foods tasting fresh, leading to lower food waste! I can also feel good that Glad bags made in North America are manufactured in plants that are certified zero-waste-to-landfill3 and use 100% renewable electricity4.
Lastly, let’s celebrate the small things. For example, if everyone in the U.S. chose Glad drawstring bags, which have less plastic5, we could help save 100 million pounds of plastic from going into landfills each year6. It’s a small choice, but can have a big impact.
And that’s why I love what Glad is doing and excited to help them on their sustainability journey. So many people get paralyzed by the idea that they can’t do it all; and guess what? They can’t! And I can’t either. I’m here to tell you that making simple choices that are a little more sustainable is better than making none at all! We can’t show up perfectly — because it’s impossible to — so we might as well embrace imperfection and celebrate the small things we do to be better stewards of the earth.
1. Overconsumption is driving the climate crisis, warn scientists | Euronews
2. Made with 50% renewable sugarcane.
3. Recycle or repurpose at least 90% of its waste, send the remaining 10% or less to waste-to-energy facility.
4. For bags manufactured in U.S. plants. All energy used is offset by virtual power purchase agreements and purchased renewable energy certificates (RECs).
5. Glad drawstring kitchen trash bags use less plastic than leading competitors. Ranges from 7%–22% less plastic vs. top 10 competitors.
6. Based on IRI data: If existing non-Glad drawstring buyers switch to Glad® drawstring bags.