Easy Ways to Implement Sustainable Practices into Your Life Today
Sustainability. The term has become somewhat of a trend over the past couple of years, even months. I personally believe that every human has the responsibility to attempt to live sustainably. Our planet (and home) is a true gift which we need to cherish.
Speaking about sustainability is great but taking action is even better. That being said, it can be extremely overwhelming. Instagram accounts about going “zero waste” seem almost cliche instead of helpful…with a fear of judgment lingering behind every non-green action someone may take. Instead of approaching this topic with fear and hesitation, join me in making some easy switches in our lives! Not only are we shaping our own lives, future and environment but we are molding a path for a cleaner future.
Here are easy ways to implement sustainable practices in your life, TODAY!
Let’s start off with our guest contributor, shall we? Megan of Acteevism, formally Tunes and Tunics, is one of my favorite sustainability bloggers to follow. She’s real, authentic & shares both her success and flaws that she encounters throughout her sustainability journey. I reached out to her a few weeks back, asking her to share some tips on living a sustainable life.
“Make sustainability a habit. Start bringing a reusable water bottle to school or work. Put it in your work bag, put it right by the door on your way out, keep one in your car - make it easy for yourself to remember. Once you get used to having a reusable water bottle with you, bringing it with you whenever you leave the house becomes a habit. Once something becomes a habit it doesn't seem as daunting to move onto the next thing - using reusable bags, using reusable cutlery, remembering to bring your own food or snacks, etc.
I also think becoming more conscious about how you move through your days is incredibly important. Take a moment before you buy something to ask yourself a few questions: Do I need this? Can I recycle it or the packaging? Is there a package-free or reusable alternative? Is this item harmful to the environment? Will it decompose in the landfill? Can it be composted? Slowing down your purchasing process, and thinking more critically about the items you use on a daily basis, can make you more conscious of your actual impact and where you may be able to make a change. It can initially be overwhelming to actually see how much plastic you use every day, so it's also important to remember progress is more important than perfection. It's absolutely unrealistic to wake up tomorrow and be perfectly zero-waste, plastic-free and carbon-neutral so don't put that pressure on yourself!”
Thank you to Megan for sharing her insight on sustainability. If you’re curious about more topics regarding the topic (and tons of helpful tips especially on sustainable fashion) check out her blog here.
OK. SO. Where to start? I am here to help! Let’s break it down into a few bullet-points.
Slow Down Your Purchasing Process
Become a conscious consumer. Another term which has coined fame in the recent months. When you are looking to purchase something, new boots for example, run through a couple thoughts in your head. Will this purchase last me a long time? Will the quality uphold multiple years of wear? Is this item “trendy” or will it transition well throughout multiple seasons?
My experience: This was truly a challenge for me, especially in the beginning. I love fashion, trends and the feeling of shopping. What I quickly came to realize is that becoming a conscious consumer didn’t mean I had to let go of my love for fashion, instead it simply meant I only purchased items I truly needed.
Use What You Have
One of the easiest ways to live sustainably is to use what you currently have in your home. Although some may let go of items cold-turkey, I believe it’s just as beneficial to get the full use of the items you have. For example, if you are trying to reduce your paper-towel waste but you recently purchased a 12 pack…don’t fret! Instead of letting that purchase harbor anxiety, use that item with consciousness. Make changes for the future & long term.
Like Megan said above, it’s important to start with habit. Pack your reusable bag into your commuter backpack, car or next to your door before you leave. Leave a reusable mug at work to bring on coffee breaks. Use mesh bags instead of plastic for produce, nuts, etc. Buy in bulk! It’s important to pick just one of these habits & become a pro at it. Small habits turn into lifestyle changes!
Sustainability is such a vast area to delve into. Pick one topic to start off with, educate yourself on how that industry is effecting our planet & how you can help. Pick a topic like food waste, fast-fashion or the meat industry and become an expert.
Take a look at food waste within your own home & life. Are you eating out a lot & not taking leftovers home? Maybe you’re purchasing too much at the grocery store which results in spoiled fruits & veggies. Once you’ve recognized your flaws, take actions to change them. Imperfect Produce is a great resource to use if you’re looking for a convenient option.
This is a HOT topic & one you probably see all over social media. One of the easiest ways to start is to learn where your clothes are being made. Stop buying designer knock-off pieces (that are probably made by children in impoverished countries). Limit or stop purchased clothes from places like Romwe, SheIn & more. Look into purchasing items for the long-term instead of simply for trend. All in all, becoming a conscious consumer & slowing your purchasing time helps!
The meat industry is a huge contributor to the climate crisis. I understand how difficult it can be to eliminate or limit meat from your diet, especially growing up in a Polish household where meat & potatoes were a staple. Consider limiting your red-meat intake & dairy consumption. Consult your naturopath or nutritionist to learn more about altering your diet! When I had questions about my diet I was able to turn to my doctor & trust her opinion.
If you want to keep meat in your diet, which is a personal choice & completely normal (heck, I eat meat from time to time), research where your meat is coming from. Mitch & I recently purchased ground chicken from our local farmer’s market. #KnowYourFarmer.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Easier said than done but try not to overwhelm yourself. As with any issue in today’s society, it’s easy for one to become overly-consumed and anxious around a topic that is surrounding our well-being. My biggest piece of advice throughout your sustainability journey is to appreciate both your successes and your down-falls. Positive progress takes consistency!
Travel & Commuting
Do you drive to work? Take the train? Walk?
This certainly depends on the city you live in. I am fortunate to live in Chicago where I don’t need a car, in comparison to a smaller city where public transportation isn’t as readily available (or safe).
If walkability is available, consider walking or biking to work.
Lyft or Uber
Pick the carpool option when selecting your ride. Not only does this cut the price down but it turns one trip into multiple.
Items to Help
Here are some of my favorite items to start off your journey
Use a mason jar & wrap a cloth around it
You can purchase these at your local grocery store. I have a few from Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s.
Reusable Food Wrap
Keep these in your produce bags for convenience. When you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market use them instead of conventional plastic bags
These aren’t necessary but they are nice. I personally don’t own any stasher bags (they are on my wish-list). Instead I use my Bee’s Wrap for snacks on the go.
More Information & Articles
Make Larger Changes
Once you feel ready, make larger changes in your life.