For years now, people have heard the terms reduce, reuse and recycle to protect the Earth in the future. Why that is a great habit, there are also many more simple and easy ways to practice a conscience and eco-friendly lifestyle.
Being aware of ways to contribute to the environment is not always a priority.
When practicing an eco-friendly lifestyle, many people can be overwhelmed with where to start. Experts recommend simplifying.
In a 2012 study by The Natural Resource Defense Council, U.S. families throw out approximately 25% of the food and beverage they purchase. This costs a median family of four on average $1,365 and $2,275 every year.
Leigh Neary, former environmental engineer and owner of Exist Green, a eco-boutique and zero-waste market located in the Omaha suburb of Dundee, provides resources to help others practice the eco-friendly lifestyle.
“Honestly, everyone’s got to eat, so finding refill bins and consuming less processed foods and more organic options, you’re automatically reducing your amount of packaging,” Neary said. “That’s what it truly means to live that eco-friendly lifestyle, then all the sudden you have things around you that bring you joy.”
There are also many other stores located all around Nebraska such as Edens Preserve, GROW Nebraska’s Buy Nebraska Store, and It’s All About Bees that offer products and services to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Little items and practices, like buying refill bins, accumulate over time. One example is considering the benefits of using a refillable water bottle instead of plastic ones. According to Be Bottle, a reusable bottle company committed to reduce plastic bottle waste, around 38 billion water bottles end up in U.S. landfills every year and the plastic from those bottles requires about 700 years to dissolve.
There are many little things you can begin to do to save money and protect the environment. This could include purchasing a viral mug or bottle instead of a pack of plastic water bottles. Consider purchasing reusable bags instead of using the plastic ones provided by a local grocery store. You might also buy a compostable toothbrush instead of a plastic one or start using a menstrual cup instead of purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of tampons over time.
There are many people out there to take inspiration from, such as activist Nicole Lovesee of Scottsbluff, who has honed the eco-friendly lifestyle over the past few years.
“It truly is something that has naturally become part of my routine,” Lovesee said. “By turning off lights, I am not using or lowering my air conditioning in the summer. I am saving myself money. I always enjoy thinking about when I go to get my morning Starbucks. I am using a strawless lid and saving the turtles.”
Neary suggests that by making simple changes to a person’s current lifestyle, they are benefiting not only the environment but also their local community. This could include donating used goods to a nearby Salvation Army to families in need or buying fresh produce from a local farmers market during to support Nebraska farmers and business owners.
Gretna, Nebraska, native Kathleen McClung, mother to a 16-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter, recently began practicing this lifestyle to save money and lower the cost of her family’s bills.
“I began practicing this lifestyle because I realized how much money I was spending,” McClung said. “By doing the little things like creating a grocery list and meal prepping, I was saving thousands of dollars on food that would have just been thrown out if I wouldn’t have walked into the store knowing exactly what I needed.”
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle may seem intimidating at first, but it is a lot more simple and easy than you might think.
Neary suggests by purchasing a pack of reusable straws, turning the water off while brushing teeth or not accelerating a car too fast at a stoplight, the earth will benefit.