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How can I be more eco-friendly?

Every year on April 22, millions of people around the world take time out of their day to volunteer for eco-friendly projects in honor of Earth Day, an initiative to promote environmental protection. But Earth Day is only one day out of 365. For the other 364, how can you help protect our planet? You can focus on making changes in your everyday life to be more eco-friendly. These tips can help.

Optimize your oral health care routine

Focus on reducing waste, reusing what you can and recycling what you can’t.

  • Make your oral health routine more environmentally friendly by using toothbrushes and floss made of recycled materials, using water flossers instead of string floss or plastic picks, and using materials with packaging that has less plastic.
  • Repurpose your old toothbrushes into cleaning tools. They’re great for scrubbing in small places during cleaning. They can also be reused as a cheap paintbrush for kids.
  • Turn your faucet off when brush your teeth. Brushing in the shower might seem like it’s more efficient, but it ultimately uses much more water.
  • Remember not to sacrifice your oral health. Necessary tasks you do in support of your health are rarely a waste. For example, both water flossers and string floss result in some type of waste, but the answer is to choose the least wasteful option, not to stop flossing.

Repurpose or reuse old items

Instead of immediately throwing away and replacing slightly damaged items, see if you can fix them or find another use for them.

  • Cloth items, like sheets and towels, can be cut into pieces and used to clean around the house. You could also store an old blanket in your car in case you break down on a cold day.
  • Furniture with cosmetic damages could be refurbished with paint. For broken hardware, try contacting the manufacturer for replacements or go to your local hardware store.
  • Usable items that you simply no longer want or need are perfect for donations. You can donate to a store or company who will handle distribution, or you could use social media to find your belongings a home. Many areas have Free and For Sale forums on platforms like Facebook.

If you can’t repurpose an item, try to recycle it. Recycling at least half of your household waste can greatly reduce carbon emissions. Some companies even offer recycling programs for old oral health items.

Find ways to reduce waste

Modern luxuries like air conditioning and running water are easy to take for granted – which means that if you’re not careful, you can overuse them and create a lot of waste. To limit your waste, try these tips.

  • Reduce water waste. Do this by shutting off your tap when you brush your teeth, waiting for a full load before running the laundry or opting for using a high-efficiency dishwasher instead of handwashing.
  • Adjust your thermostat. Even if only by a degree or two, changing your thermostat’s settings can reduce the amount of energy that’s required to maintain your home’s temperature.
  • Buy local instead of online. Some things must be ordered online, but try looking for products in your local area. Having a product shipped directly to your door can be much more wasteful than just going to the store.
  • Fix your clothes. Learning basic sewing skills can help you hold on to your favorite clothing items for much longer and it’s less expensive than buying new clothes all the time. You could even discover a passion for sewing and start making your own clothes!

Purchase eco-friendly products

Using items that are designed to be energy efficient is an easy way to live more sustainably with lower effort on your part.

  • Carry a reusable water bottle instead of relying on disposable plastic bottles. Even though plastic bottles are recyclable, reducing your usage is more effective than recycling.
  • Make the switch to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs, which use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs.

Other things to consider

When you commit to making a lifestyle change like being more environmentally friendly it’s easy to focus on buying new, more eco-friendly products. Buying a new toothbrush because it’s made of recycled materials when you already have a perfectly good one at home just creates more waste.

Some eco-friendly products aren’t available locally to everyone. If you’re interested in a product that must be delivered by mail, consider how much your new product reduces environmental impact versus how the delivery process harms the environment. It might be better to buy a less eco-friendly product in a local store rather than going online.

Very few people, if any, have no impact on the environment. If you have to throw something away instead of recycling or need a plastic flosser to floss comfortably, it’s ok to do so. It’s better to make a lot of small, manageable changes than to try doing things perfectly every single time.