While Earth Day on April 22 is a great reminder of our role as stewards of the planet, the principles and ideals can radiate out long after the day's celebrations are over. Even small gestures can add up, whether you're choosing recycled goods or finding ways to ditch single-use plastic products.
This Earth Day-inspired shopping list of cool products we spotted online will help you forgo plastic baggies, skip the beef and harness the sun to light up your life.
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It's reported that 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean from the land in a year, and by the year 2050, it's estimated that plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. Green Toys began making beach toys from plastic that would have ended up in the ocean, collected from coastlines and waterways. It also makes a wide-range of other playthings from 100% recycled plastic -- mainly milk containers. Shown here:
Americans consume an estimated 208 million tons of paper in a year. Cut back on your waste with the Rocketbook Everlast reusable spiral notebook. The glossy paper works with special Pilot Frixion eraseable gel pens (and they come in several fun colors).
Writing on the pages is a little wet at first, like using a marker on a slick greeting card, but after 10 seconds the ink bonds with the paper and won't smudge. Erase as you go with the pen tip, or clear a whole page quickly with a damp cloth. (Cloth and pen are included.)
The Rocketbook app makes it easy to scan and save your notes as a PDF to multiple cloud storage services or email — and it also can convert your handwriting into text. Converting handwriting to text isn't going to be perfect, but it's decent in a pinch. As a frequent pen-and-paper notetaker, I really liked using it — especially for my daily to-do lists.
The war on plastic straws is heating up. Starbucks announced in 2018 it would ban plastic straws by 2020. You can get ahead of the curve by picking up some Klean Kanteen stainless-steel straws with silicone ends. The set includes a brush for cleaning the straws out.
Single-use plastic water bottles have become an environmental plague. Shoe company Rothy's transforms them into flats, loafers and sneakers, with styles geared for women and kids. While plastic water bottles aren't usually the most colorful items, Rothy's come in all sorts of bright looks with animal-print designs and even flames for the kids. The shoe maker says it's repurposed over 27 million plastic bottles that were originally destined for landfills.
If you pack lunches for work or school, you could be going through an alarming amount of disposable sandwich baggies in a lifetime. These silicone Stasher storage bags can withstand the rigors of microwaves and freezers, and are also just happy to hang out in a lunchbox. Pop them in a dishwasher to clean.
Here's a slightly different approach to the plastic-baggie conundrum. These designer bags are made from cotton lined with food-safe polyester. What makes them engaging are the designs: kitties, squids, turtles and mermaid scales make it fun to go eco-friendly. And, yes, they can go in the dishwasher.
It's not just sandwich bags that haunt your home with plastic. Produce bags might seem filmy and lightweight, but they still contribute to the problem. The Flip and Tumble reusable produce bags are made from polyester and are machine washable. The sheer mesh lets you see what's inside.
As long as we're thinking about reducing plastics, check out these solid shampoo bars from Ethique. They come in varieties formulated for damage control, oily hair and dry hair. There's even one for dogs. The company says the bars are cruelty-free, TSA-friendly and compostable. Each bar is supposed to be equivalent to three bottles of liquid shampoo. Lush is another brand famous for making shampoo bars.
Minding your own beeswax is a great idea when it comes to using beeswax-infused food wraps in place of plastic wraps or bags. These Etee wraps are made with organic beeswax and cotton. You warm them up with your hands before using them to wrap food or cover a bowl or plate.
Turn your kitchen scraps into gardening gold with a compost scraps collector that can live on your counter top or under the sink. This particular design doesn't require the added cost and inconvenience of compostable bags. You can just clean it out with a quick scrub after emptying it into your main bin.
It seems like everyone and their mother makes rechargeable batteries, but the Panasonic eneloop versions are popular for their long life spans. It might take a little time to recharge them, but that's preferable to tossing a never-ending stream of drained batteries into the trash.
Going off the grid gets a little easier with the BioLite SolarHome 620 kit. It includes a solar panel, three overhead lights, wall-mounted light switches and a control box that also acts as a radio and gadget charger. The system could be used to bring light to a cabin or camper, or act as a backup system in case of a power outage.
Anker's portable solar panels can hook onto your backpack to keep your gadgets charged on your thrilling adventures in faraway lands. Or you can use them at home or at work to harvest those squeaky-clean, I'm-using-solar good vibes.
Replace reams of parchment paper with a reusable Silpat baking mat. It's made from a fiberglass mesh with a non-stick silicone surface. It can survive in the oven over and over again, and will also save you from having to grease up your baking sheets.
Earth-friendly audio maker House of Marley will have an Earth Week sale starting April 22, with goods from its audio collection at 20% off. This is the company's cork-crafted waterproof Bluetooth speaker. If you can't wait until then, it's currently at Amazon for $55 to $60, or 10% off at House of Marley if you provide your email address.
Beef production has a worrisome impact on the environment as cattle chew across the land and produce greenhouse gases. Plant-based meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger want to give people a reason to skip the beef. Even Burger King is getting on board with a trial run of an Impossible Whopper that costs a dollar more than a regular Whopper.
If you want to give the world to someone who cares about the Earth, MOVA decorative globes use solar cell technology to rotate silently with any ambient indoor light or indirect sunlight. No batteries or wires required.
Originally posted April 8.
Senior editor Bridget Carey contributed to this story.