Hello everyone! Happy Earth Day! Today, I wanted to share some ways that I’m trying to be more sustainable in my life, and hopefully get some tips from you guys too.
When I first realized that my post was going to coincide with Earth Day, I knew I had to write this post. It had been in my ideas folder for awhile, but I never got around to it for some reason. Today, however, is the perfect day for it.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I don’t always follow everything exactly, and there’s a ton of room for improvement. However, I truly believe that everyone should put forth their best efforts to be sustainable to the best of their ability and be open to learning more rather than giving up because they’re not “perfect” right away. So with that in mind, here’s some changes I’ve made in my life to try to be more sustainable already – as well as other ideas that i”d be interested in trying!
Trying to Use Less Plastic
As we all know, plastic is a huge problem for the Earth! Here’s some ideas for consuming less plastic.
Right away, I try to use less plastic! For example, I try to keep reusable bags in my car as much as possible so that I don’t forget them when I go to the store (well not during quarantine times but during normal times, I don’t go to the store while quarantine). Sure, plastic bags are handy when repurposed for garbage bags for example, but oftentimes we have so many of them! When possible I try to just use the reusable bags or put whatever I buy in my own handbag or even just carry it out in my hands.
I also try to have my own containers when I go to stores like Whole Foods that make it easy for you to take your own container. I don’t handle grocery shopping for the house so oftentimes I don’t get that option but when I do buy things like fruits and vegetables I won’t get plastic produce bags. I have seen people buy, or even make, reusable produce bags to take with them to the store which I’d be interested in doing!
A few other single use plastic items I’ve shed are things like straws or utensils. I try to either just not use the straw or only use my reusable straw from my water cups. This was super easy for me to give up, although not so easy for my parents who for some reason struggled to understand why I would skip grabbing a straw. If we went out to eat and I got a fountain drink, for example, I’d fill it and just not grab a lid or straw. They’d just think that I “forgot” so they would grab it and get confused as to why I wasn’t using it when they tried to give it to me but eventually they got used to it after a few times of this. Single use utensils aren’t so easy but I try to keep them for a few uses and just wash them, especially if they’re the more sturdy ones. Otherwise I do have a set of utensils at my desk in the office so I have that available when needed! I know some people take their own containers even for leftovers if they’re eating at a restaurant or their own napkins which is also cool.
One more thing for this category, Starbucks cups! I tend to use my reusable cup as much as possible when I go to Starbucks. I have to go into the store, and due to covid19 I know they stopped allowing this for the time being so I’m not sure if that will continue to be an option, but if so, I intend to continue to do this. I do want to get a mug for hot drinks as I only have the cup for cold drinks right now. I am now so used to this that I even travel with my cup. I took it with me to Houston and took a proper reusable water bottle to Mexico with me so that I could stay hydrated in both locations. Sure, at first it can be annoying but I promise, once you’re used to it then it’ll just be weird not having it!
Another thing that I try my best to avoid is plastic water bottles. This doesn’t always happen because sometimes I just need water and can’t find anything other than bottled water or bottled drinks. Again, I try to keep my cup with me, but if I don’t have it or if I had Starbucks in it and now it’s dirty, I might just get water in a bottle. It’s not the best, but I do try to limit this as much as possible and always keep the bottle until I find a recycling bin.
Use less plastic
Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid plastic! For example, laundry detergent is usually sold in plastic bottles or bags, as is shampoo/conditioner and other like items. My best suggestion is to get the bigger bottles, so that you’re buying more and less often. This might not always be the best option depending on the amount you’re getting, how much plastic is being used, or even your budget but it’s an idea.
I’ve also heard of places that allow for you to refill bottles of this stuff, so if you have a place like that near you, it’s worth a try. Alternatively, there are places that will take back their own containers, such as Lush, to recycle so you can also shop at places that offer that option if possible.
Avoid General Waste
Avoid excessive packaging
I’ve mentioned how using bigger bottles to buy less often might be beneficial but in general avoiding waste is important too. For example, when you can buy one big bag of an item instead of a box with a ton of little bags for pre-portioned items is something you can do. I see this most often for snacks such as fruit snacks or granola bars. Instead, now I just buy granola in larger bulk bags, or avoid those snacks altogether. All I see is excessive waste now when I look at those items!
Another small change is drinking more loose leaf tea. I actually started drinking tea as loose leaf tea so I’ve never been a fan of bagged tea. Again, I just see the extra waste here and I have a strainer so I can use loose leaf tea.
Consume & Waste Less
Stop buying stuff & care for what you have
I’ll admit, I’m guilting of being terrible at this! But honestly, you don’t need 20 blue shirts or 5 pairs of sandals and so on. I get that fashion is something important to many people but being more conscious of buying less stuff is helpful. This can be tough as we’re conditioned to want more and more stuff but it’s not a necessity. For example, I tend to wear the clothing I have for years until it’s literally falling apart and even then I can find a use for it (more on that later). I manage this by purchasing higher quality items and taking care of them. For example, I’ll spend more money on a shirt, avoid wearing it when doing messy things like cleaning, and then paying attention to the care instructions while washing it. That way the item lasts longer and I don’t need to purchase five shirts in the time that it took for one to wear out.
I also avoid stores in general now. When I go into Target I have such a habit of walking around the entire store just to see what’s new “in case I need something”. Spoiler, I never need anything but I end up wanting something and buying it. Since I stopped shopping I’ve not only cut down on the amount of stuff I was accumulating, but also saving a ton of money too. I’m by no means a minimalist, but at least I’m not buying more unnecessary stuff!
Another possibility is electronic waste. I personally own a ten year old laptop (2010 Macbook Pro), a really old iPad (I don’t remember how old exactly but it’s at least 5 years old by now), and my phone is a Google Pixel 2 (about 3-4 years old by now). Electronic waste is a huge problem and so I keep my items as long as possible before upgrading. My iPad’s home button no longer works so I have the accessible screen button enabled on my device but I don’t intend to replace it yet as I can still use it just fine. I have also repaired my MacBook Pro before, maybe 5 years ago by now, for less than $300 I believe instead of buying a new $2,000+ Mac. Do I wish I had something newer? Sure, but I’m making do with what I have because it still works. It’s annoying when I can’t do things properly for work though, which is honestly a huge pain but at the end of the day I’m not going to spend my own money on a computer for work if I’m not reimbursed for it so I make do and my employer honestly just has to suck it up when I have limitations because I have an older machine. When it is time to upgrade things like a TV though, my family does take it to an electronic recycling drop off location near us, and even then it’s only stuff that no longer works. We keep everything if it does and continue to use it!
Thrift when possible
I won’t go on about this one too much as it is quite popular already but thrifting/buying secondhand items when you need something new is a great way to make a positive impact. I have wanted to buy myself a sewing machine for awhile now but I plan to source a used machine. This will not only save me money but also help someone who needs to get rid of a machine too! Oh! Back to the clothing too – if I have an older item that I loved, I have kept hold of it so I can use it to make a pattern for a new item to make it myself when I have a machine.
Avoid throwing out items
If it has a purpose, I don’t throw it out! I try to sell clothing I don’t want on Poshmark or donate it, I keep single socks to use to dust or clean (after they’ve been cleaned too of course), and generally try to use everything I have. I’ve also DIY’ed a few items for decor pieces if they don’t match my color scheme too so that they still match. And again, if possible recycle so you can lessen what you send to the garbage bin.
This is quite lengthy so here’s a few more miscellaneous tips for you, some that I also do!
- Meal plan – I don’t do this one often but I hear that it helps cut on food waste when you shop with planned ingredients you’ll use in mind. Again, I don’t handle the grocery shopping but when I shop for my baking items I’ll have a list of what I need and only get that!
- Eat less meat – I know that meat has a huge carbon footprint so my family and I have tried hard to eat less meat. We still consume a lot of meat but we try to lower this amount.
- Shop local – if possible try to shop at local stores that sell locally sourced items. Things like produce that are locally grown may be organic as well so it’s worth checking out. At the very least you’re supporting a local community member so that’s an added bonus.
- Travel more sustainably – this is very difficult in the US as the main options are either car travel or air travel but in other places you can easily use public transportation, buses, or even trains. If those are options, those are much better for the environment.
- Work from home – if possible, working from home will lower the carbon impact from going to and from work. I know it’s not possible for everyone but if you can work from home even a few days a week that’s a huge plus!
- Compost food waste – I don’t do this actually as my parents are not fans of this but I know lots of people love to compost.
So that’s a ton of ideas that either I do or that I’ve heard of other people doing for you to consider! If I’ve left off anything you do or if you want to talk about any of these, go ahead and leave me a comment. I would really appreciate the opportunity to maybe get a new idea or chat about one of our shared tactics for doing our part to help the Earth!
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on social media!