It’s not easy being 100% sustainable 100% of the time, but making even the smallest effort can have a big impact in the long run. Here are a few tips I try to keep in mind to be as sustainable as possible in my every day.
Reusable bags. Keep one in your car, in your purse, everywhere. There are some that can even fit in your pocket. So often, I’ve found myself making an unexpected errand and wishing I had a bag with me to avoid the dreaded plastic bag (which I’ll still save and reuse). Worst case scenario, pick paper over plastic.
Buy used. So much goes to waste because people either don’t think about or don’t want to go through the “hassle” of buying used products over new ones. I always check sites like craigslist, eBay, or local buy/sell/share Facebook pages before making big or specific purchases. I also frequent thrift stores and antique stores for things like clothes, furniture, or gifts.
Buying used reduces unnecessary waste and is often more affordable. Used finds are almost always more interesting than getting the same stuff from Target or Urban Outfitters that everyone else already owns. We even purchased a set of vintage Polish Christmas ornaments second hand. Not only are they the prettiest ones on our holiday tree, but it’s comforting to think about all the joyful holidays they’ve shared in the past.
Keep reusable dishes at work. There are a lot of people at my office who will use the endless supply of paper plates, plastic bowls, and plastic utensils at lunch time rather than bring their own. It’s such an easy thing to keep in a drawer, desk, or locker, especially if your office has a sink where you can rinse them out. Think of how much plastic waste is created every week with every coworker throwing away their plates and forks 5 days a week.
Reusable water bottles and coffee tumblers are also a must. Many coffee shops even offer a discount for bringing reusable cups, now. (We’re obviously big fans of Hydroflasks..)
Water usage. Saving water has been preached since the beginning of time, because it’s important. Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and washing faces. Fill up and stop the kitchen sink when rinsing dishes rather than letting the water run. Turn off your sprinklers before and after rain. This is the only earth we have and whether you believe in climate change or not (wake up people) we’re running out of water and we need to start acting like it.
Vote with your dollar. If nothing else, the simplest change anyone can make is to just be more conscious of the products you purchase and companies you support. It may not seem like it matters, but one of the most effective ways to make change, if not the most, is with your money. Buy the recycled, organic, local, cage-free, cruelty-free, non-GMO, fair trade stuff. Pay the extra dollar. Take the extra second to read the ingredients. Avoid the company with the unethical CEO, avoid products made from plastic when alternatives are available. It all adds up in the end.