The second hottest year on record was 2019, the oceans are clogged with plastic and the disposable goods are stuffing landfills.

For many, prioritizing the environment is becoming more urgent. Restaurants are ditching their plastic straws, grocery stores are pushing reusable bags and clothing rental services are helping curb fast fashion.

If you’d like to help, here are five easy swaps to reduce the everyday environmental footprint.

Tea strainers vs. single-use tea bagsFor avid tea drinkers, single-use teabags can really add up, in more ways than one.

While some brands have switched to silky plastic teabags, those can release billions of nano plastics during brewing, according to a study from McGill University. That could take a toll on both the environment and your body.

Instead, opt for loose-leaf tea and a stainless steel or silicone strainer.

Leaf tea may seem complicated at first, but with help from a friendly tea shop, it can be streamlined and simplified. Loose tea can also produce more flavor during infusion in a pot where the leaves have room to expand.

Shampoo bars vs. liquid

If you want to reduce the amount of plastic in the bathroom, try switching out your shampoo bottle for a zero-waste shampoo bar.

Solid shampoo bars are travel friendly, and most are free of synthetic additives and have little or no packaging. They are also more concentrated than bottled shampoo, making them last longer than traditional options, according to an article from MSN.

Foil vs. silicone baking mats

If you find yourself running out of parchment paper or aluminum foil when baking, switching to silicone baking mats may be your fix.

Silicone baking sheets not only reduce single-use paper and foil consumption, but they are also relatively easy to clean. They reduce sticking without the need for cooking spray, according to Bustle.

Glass milk bottles vs. plastic jugs

If you’re a serious milk drinker, drink it from a glass bottle instead of a plastic jug. Ozark Mountain Creamery based in Mountain Grove, Missouri, processes milk and sells it in participating stores in signature glass bottles.

The Creamery makes whole, skim, 2%, chocolate and strawberry milk sealed with colorful caps. You can return the bottles to a participating grocery store to be returned to the warehouse in Mountain Grove and used again and again. Only the plastic cap ends up in the landfill.

The products can be purchased at Lucky’s Market, Schnuck’s on Forum Boulevard and Hy-Vee on Conley Road. Local restaurants using the glass bottles include Cafe Berlin, Nourish Cafe and Market, and Fretboard Coffee.

Homemade cleaners vs. commercialInstead of buying chemical cleaning products packaged in plastic containers, make your own using a few ingredients in the pantry and scent-boosting essential oils.

According to Good Housekeeping, you can make your own cleaning products at home with common items you probably have on hand. All you need is white vinegar and water to keep your home sparkling and smelling fresh.

For an all-purpose household cleaner, combine one part water and one part white vinegar, and then add essential oils, lemons or herbs for a fresh scent.

Let it rest for a week and pour it into a resuseable spray bottle to get rid of water stains, wall marks and more. Once you’re running low, make another batch instead of opting to buy.

  • Community Reporter, Spring 2020 Studying photojournalism Reach me at evgxxy@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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