Show you care, do your share

by Tauri Kerr

Anyone can be environmentally friendly if they set their mind to it!

I have always been under the impression that living an environmentally friendly life is expensive. At least, that was what I thought due to the things I see on social media.

Most social media influencers make their sustainable lives seem unattainable and, to an extent, exclusive. Luckily, I am here to tell you that your eco-friendly products do not need to look ‘aesthetically pleasing’ to be effective.

Something that was brought to my attention was toothpaste. This seemingly mundane household product is, in fact, a contributor to water pollution. If the ingredients of factory manufactured toothpaste are not safe for us to ingest, then what makes us think it is safe to spit that toothpaste into our water system? The first thing that many people will do is look up an environmentally friendly toothpaste that you can buy from your nearest health store. However, you'd have to stop and think how much this new purchase is going to hurt your pocket.

Upon further research, I realised that you can easily make your own toothpaste at home with simple ingredients that most people have sitting in their cupboards… and it is far more affordable than any store-bought toothpaste! The easiest recipe is as simple as baking soda, essential oil, and water – environmentally friendly and affordable.

Photo by Tasha Cherkasova (Shutterstock)

The first indicator that there is an issue with the beauty products you are using is that you are unable to pronounce half of the ingredients that go into making these products. The main product that stands out to me is deodorant. A casual glance at the ingredients list took me right back to high school science (which is never promising). Propylene glycol, trethanolamine, and diethranolamine are some but a few of the ingredients that go into store-bought deodorant.

You are spraying chemicals that are known carcinogens onto your skin daily. I do not mean to be the bearer of bad news though because again, there is an alternative. You guessed it – homemade deodorant!

It goes without saying that the natural deodorant you would purchase at a store is going to make your wallet cry and so you can be eco-friendly as well as budget savvy with homemade deodorant. Deodorant made at home only consists of 5 ingredients that you can find at your local health store and – another bonus – you can choose your own scent!

Another major environmental issue are household cleaning products – the phosphates that are put into these cleaning products build up in waterways and lead to eutrophication. The simple explanation of eutrophication is the over stimulation of plant growth in waterways which leads to algal blooms that starve fish, and other plants, of oxygen. Do not despair – for there are alternatives to factory produced detergents. Homemade laundry soap is fun and easy to make! Who knew that saving the world could be fun and inexpensive?

As a university student, I have never eaten so much canned food in my life. The question that has been playing at the back of my mind is how to use my tin cans once I have enjoyed a nutritious meal of beans on toast. I found a creative way to upcycle tins and therefore there is no need to throw them all away. You can make these gorgeous lanterns that are easy to create and they look amazing without having to spend a penny.

Image by Emily Peckenham (Inhabitat)

Changing your lifestyle to become holistically environmentally friendly is not a small task. It starts with basic things – such as using natural products or upcycling the waste products around your house. Shifting your mindset from ‘living sustainably is expensive and unrealistic’ to ‘I want to care for the environment as well as my wallet’ is imperative to making the change in your lifestyle.

Do not be discouraged by social media influencers who have created their environmentally friendly homes with obscene amounts of money – you can be just as sustainable as them on a modest budget.

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Rhodes University (UCKAR), Makhanda (Grahastown), Eastern Cape

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