When you think about switching your lifestyle to a more environmentally friendly routine, what are the possible ways that come to mind? If “reduce, reuse, recycle” automatically rings a bell, it’s mostly likely because TV shows have ingrained this phrase into your mind since you were a child; for good reason. David Katz, co-founder and CEO of eco-friendly company, Swaggr said something important:
“Making choices grounded in that system, in that order, will help you live a greener and more sustainable life.”
Although recycling plastics, reusing paper and consciously turning off the lights every time you leaving a room already helps in living a more sustainable life, there are more ways that are quite easy to do that collectively, will make a big impact in saving the planet slowly but surely.
Here are 15 suggestions on just how to do that:
1. Buy local groceries and produce.
Purchasing local products from your farmers market assures you of getting the freshest ingredients without the addition of waste and carbon emissions. As today’s generation becomes more environmentally conscious, farmers’ markets have seen a 6% rise nationwide from 8,144 in 2013 to 8,771 by 2019. When you support these local farmers and their farm to table produce, you lessen the massive logistics needed to transport products to your area, and you are supporting your community as well.
2. Ride a new mode of transportation to lessen pollution.
Of course, the most convenient way of getting from point A to point B is by car, but if you need to get somewhere by yourself, the amount of carbon dioxide that is released to the environment is in the tons. Car pollution makes up greenhouse gases that in turn, make the whole planet warmer. When going to work, come up with new ideas such as carpooling with officemates, take public transportation or even get in some exercise by biking to walking.
3. Reusing old t-shirts.
Doing a spring cleaning of your house is definitely not easy, but getting cleaning tools can be! Instead of buying new sponges or paper towels, why not convert an old shirt to a wash cloth? Laura Campas, co-owner of an eco friendly store recommended that “using old rags, cut up shirts, and other cloth items for cleaning is so much better than disposable paper products. Not only are you repurposing things you had around the house, but they can be used over and over again.”
4. Get into food and yard waste compost.
Composting can seem really hard to do, but guess what? It’s really easy! All you need are the following: brown ingredients such as dirt or dried leaves, green ingredients like water and left over food.
Composting can be done outside, and for those that have no space in their backyard, you can use a small bin. While it sounds overwhelming at first, starting with a countertop composter collector is the best way to begin.
Egg shells, vegetable peels, leaves and other organic materials make up about 28% of waste that consumers throw away, which can actually be converted into nutrient-rich soil from composting.
“This is a great option to minimize landfill waste and deter the creation of methane gases getting released increasing the rate of global warming,” says Campas.
5. Purchase items in bulk.
By buying products in large quantities like coffee, nuts, pasta and rice, you lessen the packaging being used. There are a also shops where there’s “access to bulk or zero-waste refill stations,” says Katz.
Campas says that she and her family are big rice-eaters, so buying in bulk helps her save money, and is also eco-friendly. “Over the course of a year, we eliminate as many as 25 bags on this one product alone by taking our reusable bags and buying from bulk bins,” she says.
6. Have a reusable water bottle on hand.
In case you still haven’t gotten on the bandwagon of having a reusable water bottle, here is some information on how doing this can help the environment greatly: In 2017 alone, more than 26 million tons of plastic were thrown into landfills, with just an 8.4% recycling rate. Instead of buying single-use water bottles, opt for reusable plastic, glass or an aluminium bottle instead.
7. Make your own friendly cleaners or use non-harmful cleaners.
Traditional products claim to be safe, but are really filled with harmful ingredients such as ammonia and phosphates. There are several plant-based cleaners that are readily available in the market which are more sustainable for your household. These brands also offer zero-waste refillable solutions – so all you have to do is bring your container to the shop and kill two birds with one stone by eliminating extra packaging waste!
Another totally viable option is making your own cleaners with ingredients you already have at home.
Heather Kauffman, co-founder and CIO of sustainable store Full Circle Home says,”making your own cleaning solution is easier than you think. Not only is it safer for you and your family, but also our beloved planet earth—both in the chemicals you are not washing down the drain, and in the reduction of packaging waste.” She suggests using a 50/50 vinegar and water mix with a few drops of essential oils for a nice smelling eco-friendly option.
8. Be conscious about supporting products with biodegradable packaging.
Plastic, paper and glass are most often used in packaging for food and merchandise, but once the products have been opened, the packaging is usually thrown away. While about 40 million tons of packaging ends up being recycled, it still takes years for these materials to be broken down. Buying products that use biodegradable packing made from materials like starch or mushrooms that will naturally decay in soil is the more conscious solution.
This type of packaging is much better for the planet. Campas says that “less junk sitting in landfills that take hundreds or thousands of years to break down is always a great thing.”
9. Convert to using LED lightbulbs.
Swapping your bulbs to energy-efficient LED will make you save money and energy, and in turn, helping the planet. LED’s are made with high-quality materials, so they last way longer than regular lightbulbs, while only consuming 25% energy.
“You will create less of a footprint if you purchase a high-quality item that will last 10 years versus something that will have to be thrown away after a few [uses],” says Katz. By making this small investment, your electricity bill will also look a lot better!
10. Always bring around a reusable bag.
Most states have already enacted plastic bag bans, so using reusable shopping bags is the easiest change to make when being environmentally conscious. Check out our favorites here!
11. Eat whatever produce is in season.
When it comes to choosing food, the fresher the produce, the better for your health. When you choose what’s in season, you’re basically making the most of a farm-to-table lifestyle that are readily available in your local community. This solves two things: fresh product that was recently harvested and little to no transportation involved.
Kauffman says that, “this is a fun and easy way to reduce the environmental impact of the food you buy and expands your skills as a cook.”
Supporting restaurants in your area that buy from local farmers is also a good way to ensure that you’re getting top quality food and supporting your community.
12. Take a shorter showers.
An average person consumes about 70 gallons of water in a day. When you turn off the water while shaving for a few minutes during shower time, then you’ll be able to save some H20. Studies have proven that by getting out of the shower two minutes earlier already makes you save up to 10 gallons of water!
13. Reusing take-out tupperwares.
Before throwing away your take-out containers, why not reuse them instead? Studies show that more than 10 million tons of plastic ends up in landfills, while less than 40% of these are actually recycled.
14. Use cold water when doing the laundry.
There are a lot of benefits when using cold water to wash your clothes. Cooler temperatures prevent shrinking and colors from bleeding. It will also save you energy and about 40$ a year. The EPA says that just buy doing laundry with hot water, 90% of the washing machine’s energy is used just for the heating process.
15. Manually air-dry your laundry.
After you’ve washed your clothes with cold water, you don’t need to use the dryer! Allow your clothes to dry naturally in order to lessen your household’s carbon footprint from saving electricity or gas.
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