Quick recap so we’re all on the same page: climate change is real (when NASA weighs in it’s not up for negotiation) and—whether your motivation is protecting the planet for future generations, saving polar bears, or simply restoring some dignity to the human species—it’s time to take sustainability seriously.
We should all be doing our part to give our planet some much-needed TLC, but sometimes sustainability feels easier said than done. I’ll be the first to admit that paper straws are no fun when they turn into soggy cardboard sitting in my iced latte, but neither is swimming in the Great Pacific Garbage patch, y’all. To that end, here are seven simple ways to practice sustainability, and show some love to (mother) nature.
1. Go paperless
Opting out of receiving printed bills and junk mail is a simple first step in reducing your carbon footprint (and, you know, *sparking joy*). You can also go digital with everything from movie theater tickets to receipts — the less paper you’re using, the more you’re protecting our planet. Yes, going digital means you *may* inadvertently get added to lots of company marketing email lists, but is it really that hard to help the planet by occasionally hitting “unsubscribe”?
2. Place online orders strategically
Rather than switching up your whole routine to shop exclusively at brick and mortar stores (go for it though if you’re up for the challenge!), there are also ways to shop smarter and greener online. If you rely on e-commerce sites like Amazon for most of your monthly staples, challenge yourself to place one bulk order at the beginning of every month, instead of staggering items so they ship separately. The more efficient your ordering, the more you’ll reduce your packaging waste.
3. Phase out everyday disposables
Cities like New York, Portland, and Seattle have already taken action by banning reusable plastics like straws and bags. No matter your city’s policy, take inventory of the items you use everyday to see where you can swap out disposable products—like plastic food utensils, plates, and water bottles—for more eco-friendly options (allow me to introduce you to our sustainable, super comfy, and flattering undies for bladder leaks.)
4. Use green cleaning products
Making your own cleaning products is slightly more involved than clicking “purchase” on a bottle of Windex online, but mixing basic ingredients like vinegar and water can yield powerful (and non-toxic!) cleaning solutions. Plus, homemade products will save you some money and cut back on chemicals and plastic waste being introduced into the environment.
5. Rethink your diet
Meatless Mondays are great, but you can also adjust your diet in other ways that will reduce your carbon footprint. Including more locally-grown foods from the farmer’s markets or a CSA subscription (maybe even a backyard garden!) in your diet gets around all the plastic bags and packaging you’ll encounter at a grocery store. If you *do* find yourself in the grocery store aisles, opt for shopping out of bulk bins and buying organic products. Bonus: eating clean is good for your bod, too.
6. Unplug and recycle electronics
Unplugging everyday items like your TV, toaster, and phone charger when they aren’t in use saves energy (and money on your electricity bill). Also, recycling your electronics responsibly when they meet their end (i.e. when the new iPhone comes out) is key. Devices like phones and computers contain harmful chemicals that can leak into the environment, which is why most companies offer mail-in recycling services. On the off-chance that they don’t, the internet can help you find a recycling center near you.
7. Update your lighting
People are like plants — we need sun every dang day to feel okay. Whenever you have the option, always opt for natural lighting (that means The Sun). It’ll conserve energy *and* the sun’s rays come equipped with Vitamin D. When sunshine isn’t an option, you can swap out your light bulbs for eco-friendly, efficient lighting like LEDs or halogen bulbs.
How do you pay your respects to our planet? Any tips for going greener? Share in the comments section!