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  • Writer's pictureTeam Backcountry

Love Your Mother Earth: Swaps

If you are looking for easy ways to reduce your impact on the Earth, here are six easy swaps to make a big difference!

Our mission is to live like it is Earth Day every. single. day. Saving the world seems like a big job and it is. But making an impact is possible when each person takes care when making simple, Earth-friendly choices in their life. Here are six swaps that you can start with!

Choose reusable sandwich/snack baggies over Ziplocs

We’ll admit, when you are going on an outdoor adventure and need to pack light, or when you are packing the kids’ lunches for school, Ziploc bags are easy. Ditch them and opt for a reusable option with the same lightweight, packable convenience! There are many options on the market, but we personally like Stasher bags, which are easy to seal, easy to wash (dishwasher!), and are virtually indestructible even on rugged adventures. You’ll pay a little more upfront but will save money over time as you’ll never have to buy boxes of Ziplocs over and over again. And for now, while you’re home—rather than buying individually packaged snacks—toss some goldfish or crackers from the larger box or bag into a stasher bag for you or your kiddo to tote around.

Use cloth “not sponges” instead of normal synthetic (i.e. plastic) sponges

This is hands-down my favorite zero-waste switch we’ve made in our household. No more gross stinky sponges! And, in a time of needing to be sure everything stays clean, there’s nothing easier and more reassuring than tossing the “sponge” into your washing machine every day. These cloth “not sponges” from Zero Market—a local Denver store—are our favorite, but you can find similar products on etsy. Started your compost bin? At the end of the not sponges’ life, it can be composted! (Our first “not sponges,” that we got more a year ago, are still scrubbing strong!)

Clean with cotton rags instead of paper towels and wipes

During this crisis, really? Yes! Cotton rags can be used for virtually everything—wiping down the kitchen counters, cleaning up a spill on the floor, using with disinfectant to wipe down all surfaces—and can be simply tossed in the washing machine after each use. We recommend sorting rags by color or type or size—something to differentiate between them so you never worry about wiping down the table with a rag that was ever used in the bathroom (even though it would be clean that just seems gross!). Any rag will do, but these rags from Marley’s Monsters and Juniperseed Mercantile are some of our favorites. Bonus: Soak rags in a 10 percent bleach solution and they work as a substitute for Clorox wipes! No more hunting the stores for those hard-to-find cleaning products.

Switch to bar soap instead of plastic dispensers

Some folks think bar soap grows bacteria that can hurt you, but scientists have proven this wrong. On the other hand, the pump on plastic hand soaps and body washes does grow bacteria! One of our favorite bar soaps is Good Soap, which is sold at Whole Foods, is affordable (cheaper than bottles of soap!), has a ton of amazing scents, and comes completely package free. If you decide you don't want bar soap but want to make an Earth-friendly switch, check out Blueland soap and cleaners. Blueland ships you a glass soap dispenser and soap tablets—all in compostable packing.

Drink tap water, not bottled water

Bottled water companies don’t produce water, they produce plastic bottles. And people in America drink enough bottled water every single week to circle the Earth twice with these plastic bottles. Your average bottle of water is 600 times more expensive than tap water. Meanwhile, when you’re paying the premium price for bottled water, what you’re often getting is just tap water that’s been filtered in some way.

The solution? A water filter you can use at home (should you want or need one) paired with a reusable water bottle. A reusable bottle costs as little as $10—check out our BWA Nalgene bottles! Even the very cheapest bottled water will leave you paying 20 cents per bottle; should you drink only one a day, that is over $70 per year. For that cost, you can buy both a water filter and a reusable bottle—both of which will last much longer than that one year—saving you lots of money, and preventing hundreds of plastic bottles from littering our planet!

Soak up the sun with sunscreen that comes in plastic-free packaging

Just because we’re under a stay at home order doesn’t mean we can’t, and shouldn’t, go outside! Whether you're on a conference call out on the deck, gardening, or going on a run, sunscreen is probably in order. Most sunscreen comes in a plastic tube that must be trashed when it’s empty. Instead, make the switch to Raw Elements sunscreen that comes in a recyclable tin. Bonus: Non-nano zinc oxide is the only active ingredient so there are no harmful chemicals for your skin!


AnnaKate Hein is the Backcountry Wilderness Area Programs Supervisor. She is a Georgia alum—once a dawg, always a dawg—where she was a member of the marching band and on the crew team. She worked for Save the Bay in Rhode Island before moving to Colorado. She and her husband can be found in the mountains or the desert chasing their next big adventure—mountain biking, skiing, hiking, climbing, camping, and, most notably, living the river rat life on their SUPs all summer.

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