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5 Tips For Leading A Plastic-Free Life

5 Tips For Leading A Plastic-Free Life

You’ve probably heard plenty of speeches and slogans about how important it is to take better care of our planet, like: It’s the only one we get. The problem with a lot of these speeches is, no one seems to remember that you’re just one busy person who would love to “save the Earth,” if you knew how.

There are a lot of little things you can do to help, including cutting back on the amount of plastic waste you produce daily. Never thought about it before? Well, now you are. Thinking about it is only the beginning, though: If we don’t change our habits, the amount of plastic we throw away won’t change, either.

Luckily, there are ways you can move toward living a plastic-free life without making huge changes or monetary donations.

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1. Take a garment bag when you pick up your dry cleaning

You probably don’t think about what you carry your clothes home in after they’ve been dry cleaned. Your clothes usually come back wrapped in plastic, which you’re only going to peel off the next time you plan on wearing your favorite outfit. Of course, you can ask that your clothes not be covered. But to make sure they’re protected on your way home, there’s another, environmentally friendly option.

Instead of taking your clothes home from the cleaners covered in plastic you’ll only throw away later, put them in a garment bag and carry them out that way. If you have a habit of picking up your dry cleaning on the way home from work or while running other errands, keep an extra garment bag in the backseat or in the trunk of your car so you won’t forget it before leaving the house.

2. Buy a razor with removable blades

Let’s be real: Shaving is a necessity, regardless of your age or gender. It’s easy to pick up a pack of disposable razors at Target on a whim, but that’s a lot of plastic for just one person.

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You don’t need to stop shaving just because you want to start living a plastic-free life (or as close to it as possible). Instead of cheap, disposable plastic razors, invest in a reusable razor that lets you replace the blade when it gets too dull to use.

Bonus: You’ll end up saving money in the long run, too.

3. Skip the straws

You know the drill: Order your iced mocha latte. Then, wait. Grasp your caffeinated prize and snag a straw on the way out so you can enjoy it while you drive. There are a few things wrong here, but one that stands out: You picked up a straw. A plastic, disposable straw. What were you thinking?

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You were thinking you just needed coffee, obviously. You can still enjoy that coffee and help out the planet by skipping the final step in the process: Leave out the straw. You don’t need it, and neither does the nearest landfill.

4. Bring your own containers to restaurants

Do you cringe when you’re out to dinner with friends and ask for a box to take your leftovers home in? No? Many takeout boxes are not recyclable, and while it’s a good thing you’re taking your food home instead of throwing it away, you’re up scaling your waste production. This is easily avoidable.

Just bring your own storage containers to the restaurant with you. It’s the exact same thing you might do at home when you want to save part of your dinner for tomorrow. When you’re done with them, instead of throwing them away, you can just slide them into your dishwasher and save them for next time.

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5. Shop at your local farmer’s market

There are plenty of reasons why environmental enthusiasts will tell you to shop local. Cutting back on plastic waste just so happens to be one of them.

Not only do local markets often give you reusable bags to carry as you shop (or let you bring your own), but you’re also much less likely to take home fruits and vegetables in plastic containers (as you might at your regular grocery store). If the market is within walking distance, even better!

Remember

Plastic has conveniently found its way into most of the products we use in our normal routines. But with a little practice, you can start to replace it with better, more environmentally friendly habits. You may not be able to make all these changes at once. But with time, you’ll find it’s easier to adapt than you think.

Featured photo credit: NatalieMaynor via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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