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Lifestyle

A Better Alternative To Metal Straws, And 8 Other Eco-Friendly Habits To Consider

We tend to take comfort in the fact that we won’t live long enough to see the end of the earth. However, given our current path of waste and pollution, the destruction of our planet is expedited beyond control with each passing day, withering into one that’s inhabitable for the future generations.

Eco-warriors are people who are determined to make a world a better place through environmental advocacy. Making a commitment to living a conscious, sustainable life isn’t always going to be easy, but easy is what has gotten us into this mess. All cliches aside, it’s important to remember that every little bit does help. With Earth Day just around the corner, commit to these changes and switch to a greener lifestyle. It’ll do you, and the world, good. Here are 9 things you can incorporate into your life.

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#1: Get a reusable mug
Enough said, coffee is the lifeblood of many. If your daily morning routine includes picking up a cup of joe on-the-go, it’s high time you invest in a reusable mug. Getting a reusable mug is a great way to cut your plastic footprint, and reduce plastic and styrofoam (polystyrene) wastage. Many places also offer discounts to customers who bring their own mugs, so you’ll soon find yourself saving lots of money in the long run. It’s a win for everybody. #2: Bring your own takeaway reusables
Think about it: the takeaway container that you held in your hands from yesterday’s lunch could remain floating in the ocean forever. It was reported by The Straits Times that the disposables used in takeaway food and for dining-in accounted for more than 10 per cent of all plastic, paper and cardboard waste by Singaporeans in 2015. Most of the waste then enter waterways and oceans as they cannot be recycled. Next time when you’re taking away food, bring your own reusable container and utensils. For instance, consider these reusable toaster bags from Hygo or snack bags from Trove of Gaia to store your baked goods. Or you could also take a break by getting away from your computer and dining properly with your colleagues during lunch. #3: Eat less meat
That’s right, we should all eat less meat. We’re not saying that everyone should stop eating meat (sometimes, we really crave for a burger…), but it’s important to reduce our consumption of animal products. The Environmental Working Group found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse emissions as common vegetables and grains. If the grain fed to livestock were fed to people, we could feed up to 800 million people. Livestock production also causes nearly 15 per cent of all climate changing gases, and it uses loads of fresh water. You can start with small changes, like picking dark chocolate over milk chocolate (dark chocolate has a smaller carbon footprint than milk chocolate) or embarking on “meatless Mondays”. Eating less meat will help with attaining a healthier diet too. #4: No more plastic or metal straws
We’re all aware about the big hoo-ha regarding the use of plastic straws. Due to their size and shape, they’re impossible to be recycled and wind up in the ocean, which can cause serious harm to marine animals. However, simply changing to metal straws does not necessarily mean that we’re now contributing positively to the environment either. The problem lies in the persistence of toxic waste from mining metal used in the production of metal straws, not to mention marine litter from international shipping and over millions of tonnes of waste from packaging. Is there a solution to this? You could consider just ditching straws entirely by drinking from the cup itself. If not, consider investing in an ethically-produced and sustainable bamboo or glass straw. #5: Go paperless
Save trees from getting cut down by going paperless. This includes paying your bills online and skipping receipts (or recycling them if you do keep your receipts). Going paperless not only saves you time and waste, but also reduces deforestation and pollution, slowing down global climate change. #6: Switch to energy saving appliances
Electricity usage has a profound detrimental effect on the environment. Besides switching off appliances when they’re not in use, opt for energy saving ones too, which can vastly reduce electricity usage and carbon emissions. #7: Repair, not discard
The best way to reduce waste is to repair what you have, instead of discarding them when they’re faulty. Learn how to sew simple seams, bust out the super glue, and seek help from friends or professionals when the job is too big. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates about 40 per cent of the lead in landfills comes from old electronics. Next time when your camera or laptop quits on you, consider repairing it instead of tossing it and buying a new one. #8: Prepare your own meals
Meal preparations aren’t just for fitness enthusiasts. Eco-warriors have also developed a habit of preparing their meals in advance as it reduces the need to buy packaged food or getting delivery. This way, you get to eat healthier with less processed food and save money as well. For starters, make preparing your lunch part of your evening routine. Next time when you’re making dinner, cook extra portions of your food so you can pack them for lunch (in a reusable container). #10: Buy sustainable clothes
We all love buying affordable clothes. Yet, we fail to realise that the low cost of clothes production requires the planet to pay a high price as it produces some of the most egregious pollution problems. It’s been reported that the fashion industry is guilty of producing large amounts of waste and high emissions, as it relies on inexpensive materials such as low-quality polyester and cheap cotton. Given the ever-changing cycles of fashion, low-quality and cheap clothes especially become disposable items that we easily chuck out.   In your next shopping spree, think about the ethicality behind the clothes you want to buy. It’s high time we invest in higher-quality, sustainable clothes to lower the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. You could also start renting clothes, which can save you lots of money and discourage the irresponsible buy-and-throw-away culture.