Small changes make a big difference
Embarking on an eco-friendly lifestyle can feel a little daunting, but being kinder to the planet is easier than you think. We all have that super “green” friend or coworker that gasps every time we use a paper towel or tote a styrofoam takeout container. Let’s be real, we’re not all going to become zero-waste vegans—but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference. Decide what feels doable for your lifestyle and take small steps. Remember, even little changes can have a big impact!
Recycle (the right way)
You may be thinking “Of course I recycle,” but you might not be doing it right! If you are including non-recyclable items, the entire contents of your bin may end up in a landfill. Most recycling services are not able to sort recyclables from non-recyclables, so if you toss a plastic grocery bag (which can wreck the plant’s machinery) into your bin, everything will get thrown away. Yikes! Avoid this situation by studying up on your city’s recycling guide every year and giving everyone in your household *gentle* reminders.
Have you ever ordered something small online and had it arrive in a giant box? You were probably struck by how wasteful all that packaging was. But have you ever thought about the packaging from a box of granola bars or a kid’s toy? Most of those materials end up in landfills! As a consumer, you can vote with your dollar and choose to buy products with minimal or no packaging. Seek out a grocery store with a bulk section where you can use your own container to stock up on staples like nuts, beans, and grains. Check out Zero Waste Home for helpful tips on sustainable grocery shopping. For personal care and other items, do a little research on brands with responsible packaging—you’d be amazed at how many great options are out there! We love the Chicago-based Litterless blog for eco-friendly product recommendations and solid advice.
Shave the world
Shaving may seem like an odd topic to include in an eco-friendly blog post, but hear us out! Cartridge razors waste a lot of plastic (and a lot of money)—you only get a few good shaves before you have to toss the cartridge. Disposable razors are even more wasteful. Double edge razors are a great sustainable alternative because they only require one metal blade which stays sharper longer and produces minimal waste. And no, they’re not just for guys—with a little practice, anyone can use a double edge razor. Bonus: you’ll also get a closer shave and save money!
Swap some meals
Some vegetarians and vegans can get a little preachy, so it’s easy to tune them out. But the reality is, raising livestock uses up a lot of land, water, and other resources, in addition to producing a significant amount of greenhouse gases. Here’s the thing: you don’t have to cut out all animal products to have a positive impact on the environment. Just have a vegetarian or vegan meal a few times a week and you’ll still make a big difference! With so many great recipes (like these from Bon Appetit) and restaurant options out there, this small change will be totally painless.
Clean up your act
Creating your own cleaning products is good for you and the planet: you can avoid toxins found in traditional cleaners and save plastic by decanting from larger containers. The great part is, it requires surprisingly few supplies. You can get started with a few spray bottles, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, castile soap, and essential oils. We like these easy recipes from Real Simple. It’s also important to think about what you pair your cleaner with—always go for reusable over disposable. Try cut-up t-shirts for dusting, use terry cloth rags instead of paper towels, and swap your sponge for a longer-lasting scrubber.
As we mentioned earlier, you should choose reusable over disposable whenever possible. It will have a positive impact on landfills and often your wallet, as well. Make a list of what you regularly throw away and see what can be swapped for a reusable item. Some easy switches: a thermos instead of a styrofoam coffee cup, a pack of portable bamboo utensils instead of plastic silverware, a tea infuser instead of tea bags, a menstrual cup instead of a pad or tampon… and the list goes on!