Compost and recycling bins are scattered throughout the UGArden South by South Milledge event in Athens, Georgia, on Thursday, April 19, 2018. (Photo/Gabriella Audi)

In our cause-oriented, environmentally focused society, many strive to give back and make the Earth a happier and more sustainable place to lives, but sometimes wonder how to begin.

Many misconceptions surround eco-friendly living such as the cost and time to maintain such a lifestyle, making it an intimidating beast to tackle. Going green doesn’t have to be an expensive or burdensome task and can be convenient, cheap and helpful.

We made a list of eight sustainable switches which won't leave a big hole in your wallet.

1. Reusable food storage bags

When it comes to eating snacks on the go, plastic bags are a lifesaver but they pose a severe threat to the environment, often getting caught in bodies of water or landfills. Because they are non-biodegradable, every plastic bag that’s thrown away stays in a landfill forever. Reusable food-storage bags are not only cost-effective but typically dishwasher safe and BPA-free. Amazon has the bags priced at $10.99, making it a cost-effective and cheap switch.

2. Reusable cotton rounds

Reusable cotton rounds are an easy swap for traditional cotton rounds. These rounds found for $9.99 on Amazon, come with a drawstring washing machine bag and can be used for makeup and nail polish removal.

3. Bring a coffee cup from home

Many companies incentivize customers to go green such as Starbucks which offers a 10 cents discount when you bring a cup from home. If you would rather go to a local coffee shop, 1000 Faces Coffee and Walker’s Coffee and Pub provide dine-in coffee mugs and glass cups. Just don’t forget to bring a metal or paper straw wherever you go.

4. Feminine products

The average woman uses roughly 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, according to the National Research Center for Women and Families’ website, and the time it takes for that feminine product to biodegrade is about 500 years. A tampon or pad used today will biodegrade in the year 2519. The DivaCup is an eco-friendly and reusable alternative to single-use menstrual products. The cup is $24 on Amazon, is washable and comes with a subtle pink pouch to store between periods. The company is committed to helping the environment and empowering women to never use a tampon again.

5. BYOB: bring your bag

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont have banned single-use plastic bags, while others states charge for single-use grocery bags. Most reusable bags are more insulated than the standard grocery bag, convenient for summers in Georgia. For grocery bags, you may already own, reuse them as bathroom trash bags, or lunchboxes.

6. Swap that TP

Dozens of toilet paper companies package their toilet paper in plastic wrap, which eventually finds a home in a landfill. Who Gives A Crap uses recycled materials to wrap their products and donates 50% of profits to improve sanitation and build toilets in developing countries.

7. Buy in bulk 

Instead of purchasing individuals of anything, try buying the largest size. You’ll save money and will reduce your waste. Items with longer expiration dates such as condiments, mouthwash and lightbulbs will be cheaper in bulk and less wasteful.

8. Shampoo and conditioner bars

Shampoo, conditioner and soap are necessities, but their plastic containers are not. Shampoo and conditioner bars resemble bars of soap with almost zero waste. These bars make traveling a breeze as you don’t have to comply with TSA liquid regulations or leaky bottles. Try buying your body essentials in bulk if you’re not ready to switch to bars and note that many containers are recyclable, so be sure to rinse them thoroughly before recycling.

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