10 Simple Ways To Live More Sustainably
Today we honor Mother Earth on one of my favorite days of the year, Earth Day! Living that green life doesn’t have to be as challenging as you think. There are so many simple ways that you can contribute to a greener way of life. If you haven’t already made a shift, it’s time! Your contributions will truly make a difference and will have lasting effects on generations to come. So how can you and your family make a difference? Easy.
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it. ~ Robert Swan
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Think of the volume of trash a household consumes on a weekly basis. When we started recycling 20 years ago our trash waste was cut by over 60%. That’s 60% LESS material and waste going into a landfill and instead moving on to a recycling center to be reused. You likely have and already use a service in your area but if not, it’s inexpensive so please consider it. If you don’t have a pickup service in your area, you most likely have a drop off facility. Keep separate bins at the house for easy sorting. Make it a weekly affair and get the kids involved! It’s kinda fun. We go every two weeks to drop or ‘toss’ our glass recycling.
Plastic Water Bottles & Cans
Oh boy, this is a big one. A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number is estimated to jump another 20% by 2021. Fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were actually collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean. This is just so simple… stop buying them. Invest in a few vessels that you can easily carry with you. For the sparkling water addicts out there, invest in making your own. DrinkMate or SodaStream are both great options.
Cloth Towels, Not Paper
Paper towels are so easy right. They’re the quicker picker upper, I know. But NO! Shift your mindset. Buy paper towels and keep them at the house but use them sparingly. For a big mess, fine, but on a daily basis go cloth. Keep one or two dish towels in the kitchen at all times and when it’s time for a refresh, swap and wash. I’ve been doing this for YEARS and honestly, my go-to dish towels are from Trader Joes. Anthropologie has cute ones as well that are pretty reasonably priced but honestly you can pick them up anywhere so make the switch!
Reusable Grocery Bags
Fact: It takes between 15 and 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose and the U.S. uses 100 billion new plastic bags each year. This is just an astonishing fact. However, making a switch to reusable grocery bags is easy. It also makes it easier to transport your groceries and carry them inside the house so it’s a win win. Imagine how much lower these numbers would be if everybody just brought her own reusable bag to the store. Invest in a few bags and begin making the switch if you haven’t already. Every grocery stores I know, chain or local market, sells them and they’re all quite inexpensive.
Reduce waste and enrich your soil, another win win. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 28% of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. Making your own compost keeps these materials out of the landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The EPA has a great step-by-step guide on how to compost and I also love this article on Composting 101. This is really cool for the kids as well.
Reduce, resuse, upcycle! Turn something that’s ‘tired’ into something fresh and new. Who knew tea tins could become succulent pots, or a fav wine bottle could become a lamp or that your old t-shirt or jeans could be upcycled into something new that you or someone else wants to wear. It’s uber fashion forward to wear upcycled clothing these days. I stopped at a Saturday morning flea market in Flagstaff, AZ last year and found a super cute couple who had their airstream set up with racks and racks of upcycled jeans and jean jackets. They took crazy cool vintage tees and put them on the back of jean jackets and used vintage patches to embellish their jeans. So, think outside the box and get creative, it could even turn into a business!
If you don’t want to upcycle your clothes, please donate them so someone else can. Did you know that the average American throws away 70 lbs of clothing every year, which is roughly the equivalent of 191 t-shirts per person. This is an astonishing statistic, holy moly! And think about doing a little second hand shopping yourself. thredUP is definitely worth checking out and as they say “There’s already enough clothes on the planet, let’s wear them!”
Just hop on Pinterest and you’ll find a million and a half recipes for inspiration if you’re wondering what you’d cook up. According to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, 2,500 gallons of water are necessary to produce 1 pound of beef compared to only 25 gallons needed to produce rice or grain. That means that anyone who participates in Meatless Monday saves 84,000 gallons of water per year. #MeatlessMondays let’s go!
Buy Energy Efficient
Let’s get a list going here so you can get the idea: shower heads, lightbulbs, charging stations, thermostats, washers, dryers, refrigerators, water heaters, the list goes on. Look for the word ‘smart’ or ‘energy saving’ when you’re shopping and think energy conservation. Did you know that electronics that are plugged in but not turned on can suck as much as 8 percent of a home’s power for nothing. Charging stations are available which automatically turn off and stop phantom power leaks by shutting down after a specific length of time, such as after 4.5 hours. Most cell phones are fully charged in this length of time. So, think energy efficient. Your utility bill will be lowered and the planet will thank you!
Walk, Bike, Work From Home
Once life gets back to normal and we can get out and about again (and back to work), think about working from home once or twice a week if possible. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we’re proving that we can work from home so let’s keep it going for the sake of the planet. Did you know that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation account for roughy 29 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Global Workforce Analytics, estimates that working from home half the week can reduce emissions by 54 million tons every year. So even a day or two will have a BIG environmental impact.
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