8 Easy Steps Toward A More Eco-Friendly Life
Reducing your environmental impact doesn’t need to feel like a chore. It can be fun, interesting, and above all - REWARDING! Here is a list of easy steps that will upgrade your life and reduce the negative impact you have on the planet.
Avoid Single-Use Plastic:
Say no to freebies if you don’t need them. Bring your own reusable bags to the store. Cloth produce bags are great for grocery stores and farmers markets because you can always wash them to keep your food fresh and clean.
Always opt for plastic-free alternatives whenever you can. You don’t need those plastic take out utensils when you’ve got better metal utensils at home. Eating with reusable utensils made from durable long-lasting materials is better for the environment and makes the eating experience more enjoyable too!
I recently invested in a water filter for my home to avoid buying plastic bottled water. The initial set up costs more than a bottle of water, but it will end up saving you money in the long run. I like to keep a couple of reusable long -lasting water bottles filled and ready to go for my daily grab and go hydration. I also have a reusable to-go cup that I bring into the coffee shop on my way to work. Glass and metal are always better options than plastic.
Make Your Home More Efficient:
Solar power is great, but the cost for an initial set up can be prohibitive. Can’t afford solar panels? Try opting for LED light bulbs that will save energy and money. The same goes for low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets.
Don't own a home? There are still options to choose where your energy comes from when renting. Talk to your local electricity service providers to see what you can do to save energy and money or do what I did and look into joining a community solar farm.
A super easy tip is to unplug your devices and prevent phantom electricity from being consumed. Another great tip is to keep a bucket in your shower and catch the water while it's heating up to use as water for your plants. The oldest trick in the book is to hang your laundry out to dry on the line instead of using the dryer. This will not only save energy, but it keeps your clothes in better condition and makes them last longer.
Simple Changes in the Bathroom:
I like to use a “one in, one out' rule where I only buy a new product once I’ve finished with an old product. This keeps my volume down. It’s also important to use the correct amount of each product. Most of us use WAY MORE toothpaste, shampoo, and soap than we need to. With toothpaste, I like to cut my tubes open and get the last bit of product out. There is something really satisfying about knowing you got the last drop out and nothing has gone to waste.
Experimenting with bars of soap instead of bottled body wash cuts down your use of plastic and can also be really fun. I recently made the switch to a shampoo bar instead of plastic bottled shampoo. If that sounds too crazy (don’t knock it till you try it) there are also refillable bathroom products like Earthsuds.
Makeup can be tough. Sadly, this industry is set up in such a way that it makes waste difficult to avoid...There are still ways to buy smart though! I narrowed my stash down to two groups. A “core group” that I use every day, and then a secondary “events group” that I only use for special occasions. You really don’t need any more than that!
Sometimes less can be more. A great trick I recently learned is to put my toner in a glass spray bottle and spray it on my face instead of using all those cotton balls that end up absorbing most of the product. If your toner has tons of chemicals in it then I wouldn’t inhale when you spray. Better yet, get a new toner and always look for beauty products with clean ingredients that are better for both your health and the planet.
Swaps In The Kitchen:
Swap your paper towels with reusable dishcloths. Swap your plastic wrap with beeswax wraps. Ditch the plastic containers and start storing your food in chic glass containers like snapware or mason jars. Pack your lunch in a lunch box instead of a brown paper bag. Always use your real plates and flatware in favor of throwaway stuff.
Coffee is a big one… Ditch the plastic Nespresso pods and go for a classier less wasteful method like pour-over or French press. Trust me on this one. Your Coffee ritual will feel better, look better, and taste better. More of a tea drinker? Then opt for loose leaf tea over tea bags. Why? Well because, and I know this is shocking, but most tea bags are made with plastic!
Re-Think Your Plate:
Eat more plants! I do meatless-Mondays and wheatless-Wednesdays. If you can eat plant-based two days a week or more it will make less of a negative impact on the planet and may even add years to your life.
If you have leftovers, don’t throw them away. Eat them. It sounds obvious, but a lot of people don’t do it. I’ve found that leftovers have this weird negative connotation for some reason. Even the name, “leftovers” makes some people think of scraps or sloppy seconds, but that’s just silly. Thanksgiving leftovers are the best and Chinese food leftovers taste better than they did the first time!
Take a trip to your local farmers market. The produce is going to taste better and be grown with less chemicals. Better yet, start a garden. No space? Try a micro herb garden in your windowsill or join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and receive local, farm-fresh goodies straight to your doorstep.
Find out about your other local small businesses and support them. I started buying from a local soap maker five years ago and haven’t turned back since. Use local repair shops like tailors, cobblers, and woodworkers to make your stuff last longer! Even your local thrift stores and garage sales are great places to look for upgrades like homewares, small appliances, and well-made timeless clothing.
Be Smart About Transportation:
Headed to the market down the block? Going over to a neighbor’s house for dinner? Opt for riding your bike or put one foot in front of the other and walk! I like to set a 30-minute rule. If it's under a 30-minute walk -- Then I walk. That might be tough for some people. Especially when it’s freezing cold or burning hot outside. Try starting with a 10-minute rule and work your way up. No way? Fine, what about a 5-minute rule? As long as you’re trying!
If you have to drive, then carpool when you can. This not only saves the environment by reducing emissions, but it also saves your wallet. Get a carpool sheet going at work so people can save money by riding together. You can even try pitching the idea of working from home for a day or two to reduce emissions. What’s the worst that can happen? Who knows, you might end up being able to fill out that next spreadsheet from home. On your couch. In your pajamas. On a Tuesday!
Support companies that have ethical practices and seek out brands that offer quality products. By vowing to only buy from companies that are environmentally focused you are motivating less eco-friendly companies to change their ways and earn your business.
Recycling is great, but it’s even better to pick products that have staying power. Longevity leads to less trash. It’s a simple fact. Before I buy something, I like to ask myself, “Is this something I could proudly pass onto my grandchildren?” If the answer is no, then I wait a couple of days before making a purchase and circle back to it later. Nine times out of ten I end up realizing that the purchase is pointless. Buying less doesn’t mean you’re being cheap, it means you’re being smart!