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5 Simple Ways to be More Sustainable

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

These days, we're constantly surrounded by plastic and other non-biodegradable materials. And slowly, we are becoming more aware of just how much of a negative impact our garbage, particularly single-use plastic, is having on our planet. With islands made of garbage in the ocean that are bigger than some countries, and seeing the effects of climate change already putting all living beings on Earth at risk, now is the time to start doing something. Luckily, there are some very simple changes you can make now in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle and help keep the planet healthy for generations to come. Some I'm sure you've either heard of or already use, but I'm going to also try to list some that you may not have previously thought about.

1. Reducing Your Consumption

The best way to reduce plastic and garbage is of course to cut back wherever possible. Do you really need 6 different products when 1 or 2 could do the same job? For example, instead of buying makeup remover, facial moisturizer and eye cream, I just use coconut oil, which also comes in a glass jar, for all of these purposes. Of course we all have different needs and will require different products, but that is just to give you an idea. Clothing is another huge source of garbage that usually cannot be recycled. Try cutting back on unnecessary clothing purchases by choosing higher quality items and learning how to do simple fixes, such as repairing torn seams or sewing buttons back on that have fallen off. Also try bringing what you need with you, so you don't have to purchase items later. An example of this is carrying a reusable water bottle, which you can refill to keep you hydrated all day, instead of buying a plastic one while you're out.

2. Reusing Items

A good majority of my clothing items are second hand. I love going to thrift stores or using clothing resale apps to find new and unique pieces. Of course there are certain items I always prefer to buy new, like underwear, socks, jeans, etc. But when I can, I like to buy pre-loved items. Not only are you not contributing to the manufacture of new clothing items, which are often extremely bad for the environment, but you can save a lot of money by going this route. I've managed to find pieces from some of my favorite high-quality brands at thrift stores. Another idea I love for clothing is swapping with friends, this way you can each get a new item you love without spending any money at all! Another group of items I love to reuse is glass containers, especially jars. Instead of just tossing those empty glass jars or bottles in the recycling or trash, I clean them out and use them for storing food and various other items. For candle jars, I scrape out the remaining wax with a screwdriver or spoon, scrub the inside with the rough side of my sponge and then put them in the dishwasher. There are varying opinions on if using old candle jars for food is safe, I'd say just really make sure they're clean first and you should be fine.

3. Refusing Single Use Items

Shopping bags are a pretty obvious one, either bring a reusable bag, refuse a bag, or if you must, use a paper bag. But what about when you're eating or ordering food out? If I can, I like to bring my own containers to restaurants for take-out or leftovers. As far as plastic cutlery goes, I've started using a bamboo set instead. The one I use is by To-Go-Ware, and contains a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks, all inside a cloth carrying case that comes with a mini carabiner. I also like to throw my metal straw in there too. For coffee or other drinks, you can bring your own cup and a lot of places, like Starbucks, also have reusable options in the store. While out and about, I try to refuse paper handouts unless it's something I think I'm actually going to use. I also try to refuse paper receipts unless there is a possibility I might return the item and getting an electronic receipt sent to my email isn't an option.

4. Changing how you Gift

For birthdays or holidays, especially for children, it's quite common to give cards, balloons and cheap plastic toys or other items. Instead of this, consider taking the person out for lunch, or giving them an item they really need that won't just end up in a landfill after a short time. I still do like to send paper cards sometimes, but if it's a person I'm closer to, I'd much rather have an experience with them. This can be going to a nice movie theater, going to an amusement park, taking them to their favorite restaurant, attending an art exhibit, or if you can afford it, a trip somewhere together. I feel like these type of gifts are a lot more meaningful, and depending on the circumstance, can often be cheaper than buying an item they may or may not like.

5. Buy Compostable or Biodegradable

When reusable isn't an option, your next best bet is to go for compostable/biodegradable items! Just be aware that not all areas have composting options and not all materials labeled "compostable" will be able to do so if buried in your yard, some need to go to a special facility. A simple step is when buying groceries, don't go for the produce wrapped in plastic packaging and don't use the plastic bags the store provides. There are reusable produce bags, but honestly I usually just wash the items well when I get home, which you should be doing anyway! The pieces of fruits and vegetables that you do not eat are biodegradable and can almost always be thrown in a compost bin, or just in your yard. Another great product I found recently is biodegradable bamboo cotton swabs. Did you know that most cotton swab handles are made out of plastic? Maybe you did, but I didn't realize this for a while! So the last time I ran out of them, I picked up a case of the bamboo ones instead, you can also opt for ones with paper handles instead of plastic ones.

Being more sustainable doesn't have to be difficult or expensive! Obviously no one is perfect, but by following these steps, you can feel awesome about doing something to reduce your carbon footprint. Remember, if many people make small changes, we can change the world. Together, we can save our beautiful planet!

Find sustainable products I love here:

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