It is eye-opening (to say the least) when you look around and see how much consumption and waste is taking place. We’re not pointing fingers because we all play a part in this, but it is essential to stop and think “what can I do to live more sustainably?” There are many paths to take when trying to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, and we’re here to offer simple sustainable living tips so you can reduce your environmental footprint.
How can we be more sustainable in our day to day?
You may not think about this, but the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters. There’s a lot to unpack here and it deserves an article (or five) of its own, but just know that there are hidden costs to the environment that are not reflected in extremely cheap clothing prices.
- Support brands that are ethically and environmentally conscious. It is equally as important that you are buying eco-friendly products that were made with quality in mind so that they will last more than a few uses.
- Purchase quality, basic, staple pieces that you can use for a variety of outfits and won’t sit in your closet for one day a year. Quality fabric and manufacturing means these products will likely cost more upfront, but will last much longer than cheaper options and will help reduce the excessive amount of textiles that end up in landfills each day.
- Support local brands whenever possible. There are a lot of small businesses that produce the same quality (if not better) products than most big name brands. Again, less travel to you means less CO2 emissions released.
- Get your DIY on and upcycle old items into something you’ll actually use. Do you have a pair of jeans that have a hole or don’t fit your calves anymore? Cut them and turn them into a pair of jean shorts!
- Don’t get sucked into brands that are greenwashing just to hop on a trend or for marketing purposes. Do some research and see how eco-friendly the brand really is. Are they transparent with their manufacturing and sourcing?
- Thrift your heart away! There are so many hidden treasures at thrift shops, so try and take your time to see what staple pieces you can fit into your wardrobe. You might even come across something completely new that is now heavily discounted! It pays off to shop at small stores.
Eco-friendly house swaps
There are so many eco-friendly products, especially for the home. You can also reduce your electricity and water usage and decrease your food waste. These are some quick tips to start converting to an eco-friendly home:
- Utilize the natural light as often as possible. Opening the blinds and allowing natural light into your home not only saves on your electricity bill but it is also known to make you feel happier.
- Many countries around the world use the natural power of the sun and a clothesline to dry their laundry. Ignoring the dryer will save on electricity and really makes a difference in preserving your clothes, especially swimsuits. To make your swimsuits last longer, always hand wash and hang in the shade to dry.
- Cut down on paper towels, disposable plates, plastic cutlery, and plastic straws. This is one of the easiest and most cost efficient eco-friendly swaps to make. If you’re hosting a BBQ and need to have disposable plates, choose a brand made from biodegradable materials and use reusable metal straws. Any washable cloth will work as a great substitute for paper towels.
- If you are in an area where it is safe to consume tap water, this will help you conserve a lot along with saving money. You can also use a purifying water filter that goes over the faucet and a reusable water bottle; the main goal is to cut down on single-use plastic water bottles and be mindful of our water usage.
- Only make what you will eat! It is awesome if you meal prep, but let’s be real with ourselves: we often make way too much food and throw out the leftovers.
- Make a switch to eco-friendly products for the kitchen and bath. A few ideas include: beeswax food wrap instead of foil or plastic wrap, non-toxic cleaning products and dish soap, glass containers in place of plastic, reusable, bar soap and bar shampoo so you won’t have plastic bottles, bamboo toothbrushes, wooden combs.
Whether you’re commuting to work or simply meeting up with a friend, there are many ways to get around sans automobile. Though depending on your lifestyle and location, owning a vehicle may be your only option. Here are a few ideas of how you can incorporate sustainable travel into your routine:
- Biking or walking is the most obvious choice. Do you live relatively close to work? If your schedule allows, try to leave earlier and walk, or buy a used bike. Both methods give you a great workout before your day begins!
- Public transportation is an excellent way to cut your carbon footprint and decrease the number of vehicles on the road. Many cities have great public transportation systems that also include light rails and subways. Nowadays, it’s as easy as downloading your city’s public transportation app onto your phone - you can pay your fare through your smartphone and you’re ready to ride! Check with your employer if they subsidize public transportation costs.
- Traveling by plane takes a giant toll on the environment. For every passenger, about one pound of CO2 per mile traveled is emitted into the atmosphere. To compare, cars emit nine ounces and trains, just 0.79 ounces. Follow in the footsteps of Greta Thunberg and opt for “slow travel” by boat, train, or bus when possible.
- Organize carpools when attending group outings. If you’re lucky enough to live next to a coworker, offer to carpool by switching off who will drive to the office each week. It also saves mileage on both cars and any parking costs!
- If you live near a grocery store, put your workout sneakers to use and walk! Of course, you should plan for what you’re buying and make sure you can make the trek back with heavy items. Implementing little habits like walking to the bank or to the gym will force you to get your steps in. You’ll soon find fewer reasons to use your car and embrace a more active lifestyle at the same time.
This is something that has become so easy to do since most businesses can send you invoices, bills, and receipts by email. Try the following to cut down on your paper consumption:
- Most companies allow billing statements through digital downloads and paying your bills online. Opt for this option when organizing your bill payments so you can avoid receiving that hefty five page phone bill that could’ve been sent in a PDF.
- Did you know that thermal receipt paper has BPA and harmful phenol chemicals? When you’re at the check out, choose an emailed receipt instead of paper. You’ll probably lose the paper receipt anyway!
- Invitations or holiday cards can be sent digitally. There are great platforms to create stunning digital cards that you can share instantly with friends and family without having to purchase stamps.
- Use your smartphone, laptop, or tablet to take notes. This will help with organization as well as decrease the amount of paper you’d use in a notebook.
Grocery shopping sustainably
- Shop at local farmer’s markets. Support small businesses and your community; it will go a long way. You’ll also often find that farmer’s markets have the best quality products and will reduce CO2 emissions from transportation costs to large supermarket chains.
- Reusable bags are a must! Ditch the plastic bags (and save a few cents since most states charge for plastic bag use) and bring your own reusable bags.
- Stop buying bottled water. This was mentioned previously, but it is difficult to do at first. You can buy a reusable bottle to carry with you and slowly build a habit of drinking out of it. Not only will you probably drink more water, you’ll also be helping reduce plastic pollution by eliminating unnecessary plastic waste.
- Visit a bulk shop. Many cities have bulk stores where you can buy grocery items like beans, rice, oats, flour, sugar, quinoa, nuts, dried fruits, nut butter, and more as well as other household items like laundry detergent. Shoppers can bring in their own containers and go completely zero waste and package free since items are priced by weight.
There are so many small habits and eco-friendly products available these days, so there’s no excuse to add some into your daily routine. Some eco-friendly swaps may come easy, some may take time, but all are worth it. It may sound cliche, but if every person on the planet switched to reusable water bottles, just imagine the plastic pollution we would save. What do you do to contribute to sustainable living?