No matter who you voted for we need to work together. No matter your opinion on global climate change (even though opinions aren’t facts) there is absolutely no denying the fact that living eco-friendly will not harm you or anyone around you. It will only improve our planet’s already dire situation. Living sustainably WILL likely be an inconvenience to you in the beginning and I’m asking for you to get through the transition period and keep it up. Do it for the sense of community, for the children who will live after you and because you’re –I hope– a decent human being. Changes towards sustainable living can be introduced slowly, one at a time or you can decide to do a life overhaul to cut out the trash all at once. Either way, there are countless places to look for support throughout your transition towards a better lifestyle!
What are some ways you can reduce your impact on the environment? There are many aspects from different angles that cause damage, different industries have different effects on the environment and all need to be addressed but some sooner than others. Of course, I’m assuming we all know that practices such as turning lights off when not in use, installing energy efficient light bulbs, and replacing leaky faucets are important to implement. Tips such as those and the ones below will not only help the planet but they are common sense ways to reduce your own monthly bills; it’s truly a win all around to begin implementing these lifestyle changes. Here are some simple (but not always easy) steps to actually make a difference:
- Eat less meat or become vegetarian. – According to this study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “The U.S. food production system uses 50% of the total U.S. land area, 80% of fresh water, and 17% of fossil energy used in the country.” They compared the meat diet versus the vegetarian diet in regards to environmental impact and they found; “The meat-based food system requires more energy, land, and water resources than the lactoovovegetarian diet. In this limited sense, the lactoovovegetarian diet is more sustainable than the average American meat-based diet.” Here is another study showing the impact livestock has on our environment. My family is not vegetarian (yet!) but we eat significantly less meat than we previously did, which has health benefits and is cheaper on our shopping bill. Watch a few Netflix documentaries and you’ll become inspired by a new, healthier way of living. A few of my favorite are Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Cowspiracy. If you need a cookbook to get some vegetarian inspiration I suggest these to start out:
2. RECYCLE more! – First, if you don’t already do regular weekly recycling of all your daily waste, then that needs to start happening. If you already do that, awesome! Now, to make the more difficult changes you can start recycling things you use daily. Items like paper towels are pointless! You’re using a ton of paper and creating massive waste. Reuse cloth towels (do not buy from China please) throughout the day and keep a wet bag or trash bin to collect them in, then wash them in cold water weekly or twice weekly depending on family size. Use cloth diapers if your children are in diapers and a reusable feminine hygiene options such as cloth pads, reusable cups, or a sustainably made product such as Thinx reusable period panties. I will soon be making an entirely separate post detailing many ways to reuse and recycle everything from daily use items to fun projects. Subscribe to this blog to stay informed!
3. Ditch the plastic. – Start with your shopping bags! You can opt for locally made canvas bags or recycled plastic ones. It is also important to begin using reusable produce bags as well, especially since you’ll be buying more produce instead of meat. Then, once that transition is made you can begin converting the products in your home from plastic to glass. Why? Not only is plastic harmful to our environment because it may never completely biodegrade, it is also harmful to our health. Follow the links for helpful sources on the harmful effects of plastic on our bodies and our planet! Glass can be reused and reheated without worry, not to mention you can get some awesome mason jars to give your kitchen a rustic feel. We even use a reusable sandwich and snag bags (see below) to replace plastic baggies. It’s possible to convert your household to less and less plastic over the year; be the leader of the trend in your community circles and make the conscious and deliberate choice to go against the norm.
4. Compost your food waste – Okay, so if you don’t have a garden yet you can start one (yes even someone without a yard can grow a garden!), and if you do then a compost bin is a great way to reduce waste and boost your soil content. My family has a bucket just outside our kitchen door and a larger compost bin in the yard near our garden. We don’t even have a fancy compost bin, we’re using a trash can raised by a pallet! Sustainable doesn’t always mean expensive. The toddler is even involved in composting with us, which is a great lesson on eco-responsibility and gardening. Why compost? You’re returning nutrients to the soil, improving quality and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers; plus you have less smelly trash.
5. Stop buying everything new (and made in China)! – Okay, I realize this may seem impossible for some people but hear me out. I shop at thrift stores because it’s fun to find a treasure or two, but it’s also extremely important to reuse items rather than toss them into landfills. There are more ‘trendy’ versions of reusing clothes such as companies like ThredUp which allows users to resell gently used clothing as a means of encouraging a more sharing-based community. I loved the documentary The True Cost and encourage you to watch it! Borrow books/DVDs from your library instead of buying them, share books with friends and sell /donate them to a used bookstore; there is no reason why we all need massive personal libraries hoarded to ourselves. You can also find gorgeous furniture secondhand that is a fraction of the price. If you have children shop at consignment stores or social media sale pages for all things kids related (clothing, toys, and gear). Shop for the USA made or at least study the manufacturing practices of the company to ensure they comply with highest quality standards of production (including treatment of employees). There is no excuse for buying every item brand new, stop demanding new and being sucked into mass consumerism and embrace secondhand! Your wallet and your planet will thank you.
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We can do this! Make this year the year you stop contributing to the destruction of the planet. Make this year you start being part of the solution! If we all work together we can truly begin to make a difference. We can speak with our wallet and we can lead by example. I would love any comments on fun and productive ways you’ve changed your lifestyle to be more sustainable. I can’t wait to continue sharing eco-friendly living tips with all of you!