We Confess! Here’s How Team LCK Can Do Better for the Earth
Today, the team at LCK is confessing our environmental shortcomings — we think you can probably relate! — and getting a refresher on why they’re problematic for the greater good. In the rush of everyday life, we’re all doing our best at all the things (including being kind to the Earth!), but we all come up short sometimes.The promising news? There are easy, inexpensive ways to help the environment… and we’re breaking those down, too.
LEXI, Founder + CEO
The Confession: “I use way, way, WAY too many paper towels.”
The Problem: They sit in a roll on your kitchen counter in a seemingly endless supply. Run out? Just replenish! They’re easy to grab, so much so that you probably don’t put that much thought into taking one — or a whole bunch — to clean up even the smallest of spills. Easy, right? Not so much. According to Durafresh, the paper towel industry is responsible for the consumption of 110 million trees and 130 billion gallons of water per year. Manufacturing them requires huge amounts of energy. Ultimately, they all end up in landfills, anyway… roughly three thousand tons annually in the U.S. alone. Basically, our reliance on paper towels has environmental impacts at every turn.
The Fix: Reusable towels are an easy solution. Invest in a supply of inexpensive cloths from Amazon or your local big box store, or start recycling well-loved washcloths and hand towels as rags for wiping up spills and drying your hands in the kitchen. Microfiber cloths like these are especially absorbent and perfect for the job. When they get dirty, you can wash them and start all over again!
KELLI, Food Editor
The Confession: “I sometimes buy the prepackaged snack bags, like individual pretzels or yogurt pouches because it’s just easier to throw those inside the lunches.”
The Problem: Snack packs may be convenient (especially if you’re packing lots of lunches for your kiddos!), but they’re made with non-recyclable materials and can only be used once. It’s a similar story for Ziploc bags — even if they do make it to the recycling plant, there are limitations to how they can be recycled. Single-use plastics often end up in oceans, where they pose a major threat to aquatic life, or sitting indefinitely in landfills.
The Fix: Silicone containers and reusable silicone bags are a great alternative to single-use plastics. Buy snacks in bulk (less packaging!) and portion them out into containers — like these or these — for lunchboxes. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of these storage solutions and do a lot of good for the planet in the process.
The Confession: “I forget to bring a reusable cup to Starbucks and I go at least four times a week. That’s sixteen cups a month I am wasting, and I always feel so guilty about it!”
The Problem: According to the International Coffee Organization, about 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed internationally each year. The ‘Bux cops to one percent of that total, which is still a staggering six billion cups. Whether you prefer to get your caffeine fix from Starbucks or some other coffee shop, if you’re not bringing your own reusable cup along for the ride, you’re likely contributing to environmental damage. While many chains have made strides toward compostable cups, some (including Starbucks) still use a thin plastic coating to prevent leakage, making them tougher to recycle. Some cities don’t have the ability to effectively separate this plastic from the rest of the paper cup, sealing their fate in — you guessed it — a landfill.
The Fix: Reusable coffee cups like this one aren’t hard to come by, and baristas are typically more than happy to serve you your bevvy of choice in one as long as you BYO. Like Gabby, you may find that the challenge really lies in making sure that you’re always ready with a mug in case of a spontaneous caffeine run! Get in the habit of leaving one reusable cup in your car at all times, and maybe leave another in your tote bag for good measure. You never know when that Starbucks craving will kick in.
ALLI, Associate Editor
The Confession: “I run the dishwasher before it’s full.”
The Problem: There’s some debate about whether hand washing dishes or using a dishwasher is a better use of our valuable water resources, and if you do enough digging, you can find experts coming down on both sides of the argument. That being said, inefficient use of a dishwasher is bound to lose every time. It comes down to water usage! If you’re going to expend that much water on a single dishwashing cycle, it better be for a full load.
The Fix: Just lay off! More specifically, put measures in place so that you’re less tempted to run the dishwasher frequently. Rinse and scrub dishes more thoroughly before placing them in the dishwasher so that they’re less likely to get stinky after a day or so. Practice efficient dishwasher packing so you can get more mileage out of every cycle. Hand wash large pots and pans (even the ones that are dishwasher-safe!) to free up more space for smaller items and buy you a little extra time between washes.
KRISTIN, Lifestyle Photographer
The Confession: “While I do try to remember my reusable shopping bags, I find myself forgetting them a lot!”
The Problem: Per Sciencing, there are one hundred billion plastic grocery bags used in the United States on a yearly basis — and the average American family consumes a whopping 1,500 each year. Take that in for a second. After they’re finished toting your groceries, these bags end up littering the environment in places where they don’t belong, taking up space in landfills, seeping toxic chemicals into soil, or killing aquatic life. And since they’re made from nonrenewable petroleum products, they’re a huge drain on energy before they even reach your hands. Yes, plastic bags can be recycled… but the vast majority of people don’t recycle them, and recycled plastic from them isn’t in high demand, anyway.
The Fix: Like reusable coffee mugs, reusable shopping bags like these and these (cute!) are easy to find, but difficult to remember. Invest in plenty of extras so you can keep a few on hand in your car and a few tucked into your purse or diaper bag. That way, you’ll never be left without!
JAX, Team Mascot
The Confession: “I burn through a lot of plastic, uh, bathroom bags. Woof.”
The Problem: We love ya, Jax, but those bags are made of plastic… and we think we’ve made it pretty clear why plastic bags are a problem.
The Fix: Pet companies are coming on board with more environmentally friendly options. These bags from BioBag, for example, are compostable and take a fraction of the time to degrade. We’ve got your back, Jax!
Let’s hear from you: Can you relate to any of our confessions? Anything you KNOW you could be doing better at to help our planet?
We Confess! Here’s How Team LCK Can Do Better for the Earth
It’s a big world we’re living in, and a big planet means big problems. Even as we focus a little extra attention on loving on the Earth this month, the environmental issues at hand — air pollution, poor waste management, water scarcity, climate change, and more — are so overwhelming that it can feel much easier to cross our fingers and hope that big-picture efforts to right the ship can fix it. Right? We get it.
We get it, but we want to empower you to do more than just cross your fingers. As intimidating as these literal planet-sized problems can feel, there are small steps that each of us can take to contribute to the solution — so small, in fact, that you can execute on them today, tomorrow, definitely this week. We wrote a post on ways we’re reducing plastic in our homes, and here are ten other ways to start.
10 Things You Can Do to Help The Environment Now
Like, right now.
1. Streamline your errands. Errands can be a total drag, but you can turn them into a game and love on the environment in the process by challenging yourself to condense that long list of to-dos as much as possible. Map out your route before you get started (maybe while you snack on a Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffin?) and see how many of your must-do errands can be squeezed into one trip out of the house — and minimal mileage. You’ll save time for yourself and cut back on the amount of time spent on the road, which is great for air quality.
2. Donate to a food kitchen. Get ahead of the inevitable temptation to toss unused food and pantry items by gathering a box of things to donate right now. Find a local food kitchen, food bank, or other organization that needs what you already have and help them out. Getting proactive about culling your refrigerator and cabinets before your kitchen gets out of control will ensure that you don’t go on a full-on KonMari tear down the road, filling your garbage can with packaging and food that others would be happy to have.
3. Buy in bulk. If you find yourself restocking certain non-perishable items on a seemingly constant basis, it may be time to consider buying those items in larger quantities. When you buy in bulk, you cut back on the amount of packaging you consume, thus minimizing waste. You’ll also save yourself time in running future errands. Racking up wins everywhere!
4. Start saving scratch paper. Our world is mostly paperless these days, but it never hurts to have some paper around for making grocery lists and jotting down random notes to self. We love cute stationery as much as the next person, but let’s be real: all those sweet little notepads decorated with flowers or seasonal fruit are a needless expense and another place for us to be wasteful. Start collecting flyers, mail, and other scratch paper that still have plenty of space for your own writing. If you can’t see yourself building up much of a scratch paper collection, challenge yourself to cut back on random needless paper in other ways by letting store associates know ASAP that you don’t need a receipt printed or by swapping out your paper towels for reusable cloths.
5. Turn off the tap. If you’re caught up in the rhythm of your morning or bedtime routine, you may find yourself walking away from the sink while you brush your teeth, leaving the sink on so you can multitask — deal with an upset kid, choose an outfit, make a sandwich — while you brush. Well, multitasking will be the death of all of us and the environment if that’s how we do it. Let’s put an end to it! Turn off the tap for the majority of your tooth-brushing ritual. Over the course of your lifetime, all that running water can really add up!
6. Take control of junk mail. How much of your snail mail ends up in the garbage can or recycling bin before you even look at it? We’re willing to bet that the answer is some variation of a lot. Stop the madness and significantly reduce your paper waste by going paperless with your bank and utilities companies (you can usually adjust these settings online) and by removing your name from mailing lists with the help of DMAchoice. Your mailbox and the environment will both thank you.
7. Organize a carpool. Fewer cars on the road equals less dangerous emissions into the air we breathe. Invite some pals over, put out some wine and snacks (Crunchy Chickpeas, anyone?), and map out the driving you have planned over the next few weeks. Figure out where there’s overlap and start getting some carpools on the schedule, whether for yourself or your kid’s ride to school. Driving is more fun when you do it together, anyway.
8. Lay off the lights. Start paying closer attention to the way you use lights in your home or office. We get it — flicking light switches on and forgetting to flick them off is probably a reflex at this point, which is why it’s time to get intentional. Lights don’t need to stay on when you’re not in the room, right? Cutting back on electricity use helps the environment and reduces your electric bill, too.
9. Plant a tree. All it takes is a small plot of land and a shovel… and only a little time. Every tree creates an ecosystem and food for birds and other animals and improves the health of the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Plus, it’s a super tangible way to show your love for Mother Earth and will serve as a constant visual reminder that you have the power to make a difference to the environment.
10. Go veg for a day. We’re not at all suggesting that you go completely meat-free — only that challenging yourself for a day of vegetarianism here and there is one way to show your solidarity with our planet. Many meat farmers and manufacturers fail to engage in eco-friendly practices, causing the loss of water and nutrients, plus water pollution. Play your part in supporting farmers you trust and easing that burden by once and a while taking it easy on your meat consumption now and then.