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Cutting Back on Time and Waste

Taking the time to research and regulate all your daily decisions, ensuring they are the most sustainable may seem merely impossible when you're already juggling a daily routine of work/school, family, friends, errands, the list goes on. As September rolls around our summer vacations (or staycations) tend to come to an end with a busy reality taking over. However, just because you are busy doesn't mean you can't make environmentally conscious choices. What if I told you some environmentally conscious choices in your daily routine would actually save you time? Intrigued? The following is a list of five simple ways to save time for you and the environment.

1. Use a reusable coffee mug. Putting on a pot of coffee in the morning when you're getting ready, then taking it to go in a reusable mug can save you from unpredictable coffee shop lines, ultimately saving time. Also, if you choose to go to a coffee shop to refill during the day, many offer small discounts on customers' purchases when they opt out of the shop's single-use cups and provide a reusable alternative. Single-use coffee cups are not recyclable and end up sitting in landfills or polluting other habitats. Thus, making a change as small as using a reusable mug makes a big difference for environmental waste all while saving you time.

2. Meal plan. This may sound like time and effort initially but creating a meal plan and grocery list to match not only reduces food waste but also saves you time. You will not be spending time wandering around the grocery store wondering how much of what to get, questioning what to make for dinner, or having to go through and dispose of all the food that has gone bad in your fridge. When food waste enters a landfill it releases methane gas that is 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide for trapping heat in the atmosphere. Therefore, creating a meal plan will save you time, reduce waste, and save you from spending money on excess food that isn't eaten.

3. Bring your own container for potential leftovers. Don't want to cook? Then don't! Head on out to a local restaurant and enjoy someone cooking for you for a change. However, when you go out to eat bring your own reusable container to put leftovers in. Frequently the to-go containers provided at restaurants aren't the easiest to properly dispose of, ultimately putting you in the tough spot of making the decision to take the container destined for the landfill or spare the container and go against all we learned in the previous point and waste food contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. With a reusable container not only are you sparing yourself and the environment from this decision but you also now have a meal prepared for the next day in a secure container that you know won't leak, open, or end up in a landfill after one use, saving you time and improving the environment.

4. Replace single-use plastics. By now you probably have heard about some of the detrimental impacts single-use plastics have on the environment. Single-use plastics do not biodegrade, meaning they remain in landfills as well as threaten the lives of wildlife. Small changes can easily be made to eliminate single-use plastics from your daily routine. For instance, using wraps made from beeswax instead of plastic wrap not only reduces plastic waste but also saves you the trip to the store every time you run out. Although many of these changes are simple some people remain hesitant to make the switch. When conducting my undergraduate thesis research on receptivity to the movement to ban single-use plastic straws, some people admitted they won't make the change because they don't want to take the time to try and properly clean a straw. However, it is important to note that there are a variety of models for alternatives to single-use plastics, you can choose one that is efficient for your lifestyle, just because one isn't ideal doesn't mean another won't be. For instance, I too am not a fan of spending a lot of time with my dirty dishes. With that being said, I use a clear, dishwasher safe straw, with a large diameter so I can continue to opt-out of single-use plastics but also have a clean straw that I let the dishwasher clean saving me time.

5. Purchase items that have little to no packaging. The less packaging the less waste you and the environment have to deal with! Not only can you practice this when shopping but also when preparing snacks/lunches. The less packaging you have to sort the more time you have to make sure the little packaging you do use is properly disposed of.


Caroline is originally from Ontario but is now living in Nova Scotia. While settling into a new apartment and job Caroline knows what it's like to be busy, inspiring her first Stop Trashing It blog! On weekends she prioritizes getting outside and appreciating the outdoors through exploring new hikes, beaches, and trying new activities.

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