Reduce first, then Reuse and Recycle
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”: this is one of the many environmentally conscious slogans we are told to follow to avoid polluting our oceans and lands with trash. Most of the focus is on the “recycle” portion, however, depending on the city’s recycling system, only 60-80% of recycling materials actually get recycled if not less (Stanford Magazine, 2010). This takes us back to our original issue: trash. The second part of this slogan, “reuse”, highlights the importance of making use of our waste to avoid having to put it in any type of trash bin, whether it be recycling or not. Flipping or reusing furniture, household items, or clothing are some ways to “reuse”, however many things in our homes cannot be reused. This takes us back, once again, to the issue of trash and waste.
In the end, the best way to improve your sustainability is to “reduce”. Reducing consumption eliminates the issue of trash from the beginning, because you are eliminating it at the source. Reducing can be implemented in many ways, such as using less energy, avoiding individually wrapped items, taking reusable bags when shopping, or buying products with less packaging. By following these steps, we avoid needing to recycle or reuse products at all, and by being mindful of the products we purchase, we can shape the way companies function and cater to us, the consumer.
Say No to Packaged Products
Plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, and yet we use so many in our daily lives. 10 years ago, most people did not think twice as they bagged their one item at the store and then disposed of the bag at home, but now most of us are aware of the importance of not using plastic bags or wasting the ones we already have. The same goes for plastic straws, which many shops and restaurants have begun to eliminate altogether, especially in more environmentally conscious cities. In all, the issue of single-use plastic has gathered attention, and people have started to care.
We are heading in the right direction within our “reduce, reuse, recycle” mindset, but there is not a loud enough conversation surrounding reducing in the home. The shift to carrying reusable bags or avoiding plastic straws and lids is easy for most, but it is important to look deeper at all the ways we can reduce in different aspects of our lives.
Challenge: Take a trip to your restroom and look through your shower, personal hygiene products, beauty products, and makeup to see how much plastic you use every day. How often do you replace these products each year? How many shampoo bottles or moisturizer containers have you added to landfills this year? In the last 10 years? In your life?
Advocates for the Environment
OC Habitats advocates for the environment on many different levels and supporting sustainable shopping is definitely one that we not only support but encourage. There are many companies that are becoming or have always been sustainable in the products they produce and the packaging that they use to provide those products. We support all of these organizations and encourage our friends and community to get acquainted with as many as they can to find all the resources available to them.
Here we would like to highlight one of our favorite shops as they are HUGE advocates for positive change in the environment as well as in all areas of need in the world. LUSH Cosmetics, Inc. supports these causes through their Charity Pot Program, which OCH was incredibly fortunate to have been chosen as a grantee. Since the beginning of the grant process and beyond, LUSH and OCH have created a local partnership in Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties since 2019 through outreach and restoration events in 2019 and 2020. We love them and we would like to share their story!
LUSH's Sustainable Options
Changing the way you shop can be difficult, and that’s why LUSH Cosmetics is a great place to start. LUSH sells handmade beauty and hygiene products that avoid animal testing, promote ethical buying, are 100% vegetarian and 35% of which are packaging free or “naked”. All bags in the store are paper or reusable, and most packaging can be brought to the store to be recycled. (Their black pot containers even have a recycle incentive for you to get a free face mask when you bring in five empty containers, and you can check with your local store to see if they accept other empty containers back for recycling). Here is a list of eco-friendly alternatives you should start to consider buying!
Instead of plastic deodorant, try a package-free bar or powder deodorant!
Avoid contributing to landfills by changing to these eco-friendly alternatives. The bars can be kept in any kind of container and repurchased without throwing away any kind of plastic. The bottled powder deodorant is another option that is easy to recycle, if you are hesitant about using and storing a bar. [Price: $7-12]
Instead of plastic shampoo and conditioner, try a package-free bar!
Switching to a shampoo or conditioner bar is an easy solution to reducing waste: they last for months and can be kept in your shower in any container available. Lush also sells custom containers for storing these bars! [Price: $12-14]
Instead of using plastic facial cleansers, try a package-free cleanser or facial oil bar!
Lush has various facial products that are package-free including facial soaps such as the pink Fresh Farmacy above which cleanses skin, the grey Coalface which includes charcoal for a deeper exfoliating cleanse, and the blue Light Touch facial oil bar which promotes a clear and balanced complexion. [Price: $13-15]
Instead of using plastic hand soap, try a soap bar!
Lush has a variety of soaps for hands and body that come in all kinds of scents and sizes, you can even ask a store associate to cut a specific size as needed! [Price: $6+]
Online shopping comes with a large amount of waste, whether it be Styrofoam packing peanuts, unnecessary plastic wraps, bubble wrap, or large boxes. Lush uses the smallest boxes possible, and has biodegradable wraps, paper bags, and plant based compostable packing peanuts.
Between their passion for promoting a sustainable living and their generosity in supporting grassroots organizations, such as OC Habitats, that fight towards issues such as environmental justice, human rights, and animal welfare, LUSH is a wonderful place to start to start or continue your sustainable journey. Visit their website https://www.lushusa.com/find-a-shop to shop online or find a location near you!