Lately I’ve been trying to do my part for the planet. In college was when I really began recycling and just learning about how pollution actually affects our lives, our environment and our planet. This isn’t something I grew up with- thinking about my environmental footprint, but as I have learned more, I have become increasingly more conscious.
I remember taking a brown paper bag to school with each piece of my lunch packed in a ziplock bag. I loved using paper plates because no one in my family wanted to do the dishes. Let’s not forget the clothes, oh the copious amounts of clothes I purchased through the year and then just donated because I didn’t wear half of them.
I am materialistic. I love new, shiny things. It’s exciting to get a new phone every 18-24 months just because I can, or buying a new outfit for a night out because “I have nothing to wear”.
Others are incredible at minimalism, buying just what they need, reusing what they can, etc. I have not been great at this and I am sure I am not the only one. It’s been a learning curve for sure and sometimes, just when I think I’m doing well, I go right back. This is what I’ve been working on- sustainable living. I wanted to share some of the things that I have been trying and consistently trying to improve to do my part.
- Reusable kitchen products: I am obsessed with my storage containers for all my leftovers and snacks. Shop @ Target: https://www.target.com/p/re-zip-leak-proof-clear-reusable-storage-snack-bag-2ct/-/A-17136678, https://www.target.com/p/pyrex-6pc-glass-storage-set/-/A-10762123. One, these are great for eliminating the amount of trash you go through, two, so great for your wallet. How often do you need to buy ziplock bags?
- Reusable Cloths: We’ve begun ripping old towels and using them as cleaning rags rather than paper towels. Wash them and reuse them, they’re great. We have have cloth napkins, buy white to bleach them and you have napkins for days rather than going through an entire roll of paper towels in a few days.
- GROCERY BAGS: Who’s received those totes or saddle bags for free with some company or organizations logo on it and wondered, “What am I ever going to do with this?” ~Hello free shopping bags~ I often forget these at home, but I’m trying. I’ve started leaving some bags in my car so I don’t forget. Also, in Chicago and now some stores in Columbus are starting to charge for plastic bags. Save your money & Reuse!
- Using all of my produce: take for instance, banana nut bread. Sometimes I cannot have enough bananas, other times I have to intentionally bake just to use them up rather than throwing them out. But, I feel so much better about my produce consumption due to being more creative and resourceful with what I have. Along with bananas, I think I need each vegetable in the grocery store. I think I will make 5 separate recipes within a week when in actuality, I can make 2 separate meals and eat them all week. Especially when there are only two people in my household. Going back to my pyrex Tupperware, so much storage for my leftovers 🙂
- Sustainable electronics: Working from home has taken a toll on my computer, the computer that put me through 6 years of my undergrad and grad careers. I was horrified to think that just for work I would need to purchase a brand new computer. Side note: this is where my materialism came in- I wanted a Mac because I’m hooked and I was like “Eww, shiny new computer- YES!” But, my old computer would go to a landfill and I’d spend all of my life savings on a new computer. So, after a recommendation from my husband, I found a company that sells refurbished computers for half the price and I found that I can send my old computer in to Apple to be traded in to be refurbished or recycled and I get credit for it! What a steal. 10/10 recommend.
- Eliminating fast fashion: Sometimes I love my old navy and target cheap clothes. I love wandering through target and seeing all of the cheaper clothes, filling my cart with clothes that I, again, will not wear and will ultimately donate. With this, I think I am saving so much money and pulling one over on the company’s who sell shoes for $150 rather than $25. However, what I have recently found is that buying quality products is much more sustainable that quantity. My cheap clothes will no less be damaged in a few months and I will seek out new clothing, compared to making thoughtful, intentional purchases. Being more intentional has helped slow my shopping habits and allow me to process and think about what I will actually wear, what I need and what I could use that I already have to get the same desired look. Take for instance the shoe brand Rothy’s. I was baffled for so long thinking about how a simple white pair of shoes could be $125, when I could go buy SteveMadden shoes that were similar for $40. The catch, Rothy’s are made of recycled plastic, they are comfortable, and when they become dirty, the insole comes out and they are easily machine washable. Huge perks for me, personally.
- Buy second hand or borrow: My friend has been doing this for years, sharing clothing with her sisters, swapping things out and continuing to wear clothing until she just can’t any longer. I’ve been trying this a lot with books, buying use books on thriftbooks.com, going to the library, or swapping books with friends. I was so proud of myself as well, mainly with my husbands help, but I recently adopted a dog and my first instinct was to go to a pet store and spend a million dollars on all the puppy stuff I could find. My husband recommended posting on facebook to see if anyone was selling any dog supplies. Within a day we had a friend give us a dog bed and toys, a family friend give us a crate for free, and my grandmother gave me a puppy play pen. Not only did I save all of this from being thrown out, but I saved so much $$$$. Seriously, there are millions of ways to find gently used objects on offer up, poshmark, facebook marketplace, etc.
- Eating a more plant-based diet: I truly believe in each person doing what is right for them and I do consume meat occasionally, because I do love it. However, I feel I can still get all of my nutrients, and even more due to the mass amount of veggies I consume with a plant-based diet. Cows produce an immense amount of carbon emissions so reducing your meat intake can help. Although, it is noted you can reduce this as well by switching to less carbon intensive meats, such as chicken. Reach more about this at http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/carbon-footprint-factsheet
- Finally, LESS SHOWERS: Girl, rock that greasy hair, wear a hat, train your hair to not need washed so much.