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6 Surprising Ways to Help the Earth

Katherine J. Igoe May 10, 2022

Everybody talks about the big ways to be sustainable: Vote for change. Travel more by bike, foot, and train. Go digital with your textbooks. But it’s just as effective to be more sustainable in small ways. Stop using plastic flossers and buy ones that use plant-based materials. Buy “unpaper” towels that are reusable. Decline plastic bags at the checkout counter. 

These may not feel like important steps compared to other things you could do. But they absolutely save on waste, communicate to companies what you want to see, and add up in the long run. Plus, they’ll get you into the habit of making eco-friendly decisions more consistently. Here are six more ideas that you can use right now to make sustainability part of your everyday life.

Get a Biodegradable or Replaceable Toothbrush

A toothbrush is one of those unfortunate items that you kind of have to replace every couple of months. But some cool companies are making sure that reusable doesn’t equate to a ton of plastic in a landfill. Boie USA, for example, makes recyclable toothbrushes with a replaceable head to last longer than traditional brushes. They’re perfect to give (or ask for) as gifts, since you’ll use them all the time.

Buy a Better Razor

This one’s another item that gets replaced a lot and is filled with plastic. But that’s changing: Companies such as Lyla offer completely plastic-free razors. One thing to keep in mind: These are safety razors, which have technically been around for a while and make for a super-clean shave, but they’re a bit trickier to use than the traditional razors we’ve all gotten familiar with. So, just make sure you take the time to learn how to use them, and pretty soon, everything in your toiletry bag will be sustainable.

Grow Food Indoors

Have you ever watched old onions “sprout”? If you separate the green leaves and plant them, you can make new onions! There are a ton of vegetables you can grow indoors at home. Even better yet? A lot of them don’t need a ton of work or upkeep (which is great for the many people who have a tough time growing things). There are self-growing indoor gardens like Click & Grow, or you could just buy some pots and DIY it. But either way, you save money, trips to the grocery store, and waste—and you get to eat what you grow.

Buy Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets help fund initiatives that are working to decrease carbon emissions. You can use them like credits—if you buy something, you can “offset” the emissions your purchase caused. You can do this through companies such as Native Energy, which funds an equivalent carbon dioxide saving program (currently, the money goes towards helping Montana ranchers restore grasslands). Other offsets go towards a project in advance, supporting them preemptively by helping them get funding. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint proactively, buying credits can support businesses working on important environmental goals; just make sure the ones you support are verified by a third party.

Use Reusable Notebooks

Instead of buying a notebook for every single subject, buy one and use it over and over. Rocketbook is one such brand that lets you write on pages, scan your notes to the cloud, and then erase, so you can re-use the notebook. If you like the feel of pen and paper, or if it’s more effective to draw out diagrams and equations, this is the perfect tool.

Get a Durable Bag

JanSport has been using recycled materials for years, and the majority of products are made with at least some recycled materials. In fact, we’ve used the equivalent of 13 million bottles’ worth[1]  of recycled plastic by using recycled polyester in eight of our top-selling packs. The Recycled SuperBreak is the newest bag to make good on that promise. Fully packable and made of 100 percent recycled materials, it’s designed to be durable—meaning it has a low price-per-wear, with tons of functionality before it ever needs to be replaced.

Over half of Gen Zers want brands to take more responsibility for their contribution to the climate crisis. JanSport agrees. What eco-friendly methods do you use as you make your life more sustainable? Let us know on social media with the hashtag #LifeUnzipped!