Want To Live More Sustainably? Fearful That It's Too Much? Use These 6 Simple Starting Points. Be The Impact You Want To See In The World!
Our planet is aching because of all the damage we've done. You know you, and you alone can’t change it overnight. But small changes continued consistently over time can change so much!
The easiest way to make an impact? Live a life that’s sustainable, or at least more sustainable than yesterday. Let's be honest nothing changes overnight!
Sustainability. It’s a word that some use with ease and for others, it can immediately create anxiety. It brings on confusion, especially because it seems overwhelming to get started.
The biggest questions are...
They are not time-consuming and actually save you time in the long run. They are worth it and yes, you’re making a HUGE difference!
6 Starting Points to Sustainability:
1. Bulk Buying/Lessen Packaging Waste
Grocery stores have some of the highest amounts of waste. Both as it relates to actual food waste (some donate to shelters or soup kitchens) and also due to the packaging that encases much of the products. Some of the packagings can be recycled, some compostable or biodegradable but the majority are waste.
As an alternative, and to lessen your own food waste, try buying in bulk. It doesn’t have to include everything in your pantry or fridge but start somewhere small. Find a local Whole Foods or a Cooperative in your area that has bulk offerings. Start with olive oil, honey, kombucha, coffee or even peanut butter.
Locally sourced more often than not, what a great way to support local businesses!
They will likely also have grains, dried fruits, nuts, legumes, flours and the like. The quality will be good, the prices are dependent on how much (by weight, less the weight of the container) you purchase and you may find you spend less per week on needed items.
Yes, it’s a bit more time consuming, but it also means that at the end of the week, your garbage will be lighter and less will end up in a landfill. There may even be options for cleaning products you can purchase in bulk as well!
Bring your own reusable bags, and purchase your fruits and vegetable without packaging so you can lower your plastic use and it allows you to purchase only what you need, which also lowers waste of food! Way to go! If you’re at a Local Cooperative, they’ll probably have recipes available for cooking the items your purchasing! That’s a big win!
An additional note on food waste.
If you have food that has gone bad or would likely only end up in the garbage but you're not ready to purchase a composter you can source a 5 gallon bucket from a local restaurant or purchase one here (you may find this helpful to decrease the potential fragrances that eminate from the compost) to start your composting journey. Food will be waste no more and will provide nutrient dense goodness for your yard!
Give it a try, you’ll be surprised at what you find!
2. Re-Use Current Containers/Jars
Most waste, recyclable or otherwise is from the packaging we already accumulate. Instead of throwing it away, or attempting to recycle it (depending on the rules in your area), reuse it.
Use your yogurt and butter containers! I realize in that sentence I am channeling all of our grandparents but the truth is… it works. It’s cheaper and creates less waste than the Tupperware you’re likely to throw away (or lose!) anyway. Especially if other options for bulk purchasing are not available where you live.
Small jars for spices or leftover gravy or sauces. You can reuse small glass bottles for salad dressing on the go or old jars with droppers for skincare needs. I could go on, but you’ve likely got the gist.
Plastic is plastic, but instead of buying more, use what you have until you have no choice but to recycle it, if that’s possible. Glass will be useful for years and easier to clean as well! Give it a try, and see how much space you save in your cupboards!
3. Use Sustainable Items:
It’s very easy to use plastic cutlery, buying cases of water, take out containers or plastic wrap. Yes, a case of water is convenient, but that’s another 24 plastic bottles that will likely end up in the ocean. There are so many alternatives now that are biodegradable, compostable and some are even edible!
You can filter water at home with ease, with the purchase of a reusable water bottle of your choice that will last for years! You can also filter water at home using THIS instead of common pitchers, as they are likely also made of plastic.
Yes, in this case, it’s an investment but it takes plastic out of the equation, and due to its size, it’s perfect for emergency water needs.
Alternatively, keep gallon jugs (with a twist off lid) if you have them, and clean them well. You can go to a local source to be filled with potable water. Great for emergencies, camping trips and another way to reuse the plastic you already have!
Additionally, refuse plastic cutlery when you get take-out, refuse straws at restaurants or bring your own, which you can find HERE. Refuse plastic bags at stores and bring your reusable bag with you, check Baggu for lots of options!
You could also take glass containers with you if you’re so inclined to take your unfinished meals in, instead of the plastic alternatives usually given. If you have a dinner party, ask that your guests bring their own to-go containers, or if you have a surplus of containers, offer those. Lessen the waste!
4. Skincare/Cleaning Products:
There are so many options for skincare/cleaning products, but how many of those options have less than 6 ingredients?
Admittedly I’m ballparking here. But, really? How many?
Finding good skincare/cleaning products using natural ingredients isn’t difficult. With all different options, we have to pick something that works, and that’s often ye olde lemon, vinegar and salt….but I digress. Which means you could make your own of course!
However, if you are in the market for more sustainable products that don’t include a ton of ingredients you can look into WILD BRUJA, who make skincare products, or CleanCult that make cleaning products that work! You can source products from Whole Foods, or your local Co-op if you’d prefer to.
Bulk options which may include skincare or cleaning products are made from natural ingredients or include small businesses utilizing sustainable techniques and ingredients.
There are many options for DIY skincare/cleaning solutions that work, so you can make your own deodorant, face wash, body wash or soaps (laundry detergent too!) if you’re so inclined.
There are a lot more options and companies to support who make it their mission to utilize sustainable ingredients and practices.
Easy to try, cost-effective to make, and you’re making a difference!
5. Recycle All The Things:
Separate your garbage by having a recycling container in your kitchen so it’s right there whenever you need it, now you don’t have an excuse!
If you have a garden, hold onto your good scrapes and start a compost heap/container. If you like making soups, stash your carrots/celery and onion ends (or chicken, beef bones) and freeze them until enough has accumulated for stock. Then place contents of the frozen bag into a crockpot, with water, seasonings and a bay leaf and voila, stock from scratch.
Yes, it’s time-consuming, but if you set yourself up for success, it’s less money spent on extra ingredients. Side note, once stock is cooked, freeze in ice cube trays and store in your preferred manner (using these Stasher or Homelux bags ) in the freezer for future use!
Please note: Guidelines for what is recyclable in your area are different so spend the few minutes going here for your state's information.
6. Upcycle, Recycle or Reuse Clothes and Other Fabrics
Buying clothes makes a huge impact on our environment, from electricity, water, to chemical and other waste created after completing the garments.
These impacts are well-known and it makes a huge impact on our world if we are not more aware of it, and actively working to lower that impact.
So how can you lower your impact?
There are so many stores with marketing strategies about why you need this sweatshirt or that pair of pants. Frankly, a thrift store generally has a plethora of used items in good conditions, at prices that are laughable! You could buy a whole wardrobe for the cost of a t-shirt these days!
As an adult, let’s be honest here, we basically wear the same 10 pieces on a rotating schedule because those are the outfits we’re comfortable in and the rest just sit in our drawers or hangers like sad little memories of a day that has long since passed.
Instead of throwing those items away, take them to a thrift store, or get a group of likeminded souls and do a clothes swap. Tear old t-shirts, pants and the like for cloth rags to use instead of paper towels to clean your home!
Children grow like weeds, and wardrobes change within weeks. In this case, do a clothes swap for kids’ clothes.
Donate them to a domestic violence shelter or spend a few dollars on having torn clothes mended if they still fit.
Make a patchwork quilt, use an old t-shirt to make a DIY tent for a furry friend or a DIY fabric banner to be used for parties!
The options are endless, and these items will last longer and fare better than any products made of paper!
So there you have it, 6 ways to start being more sustainable. Simpler than you thought, right?
Don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself! Your contribution will be bigger than you think!
Take the pledge to break free from plastic and be more sustainable. Get started today!