19 Easy Ways to Live Sustainably in the New Year
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The new year is here-- full of promise, change, and hope. Now is the perfect time to reflect on the past 365 days, evaluate your progress and look for things you can improve in 2019.
In 2018, I really strived to make every decision I made a conscious one. Of course, that’s easier said than done. With my family of seven, becoming more environmentally conscious seemed like a pretty daunting task. But as I made an effort to be more aware, I was able to make a lot of small changes to live more sustainably and think about my consumption habits.
This year, let’s resolve to live even more sustainably and responsibly.
Let’s make decisions that have a positive impact on the earth and everyone who lives here.
Here are some little things you can start doing in your home to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly and sustainable. They’re small, but together they have a huge impact.
Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
Most toothbrushes are made of a variety of different plastics that aren’t biodegradable. Around 50 million pounds of toothbrushes go straight to US landfills every year. Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted and therefore help reduce waste. And it’s such an easy switch - you can get a pack of four on Amazon for under $8.
Use reusable grocery bags
Paper or plastic? Neither! Bring your own bags with you when you shop at the grocery store, and commit to it. If you forget your bags, load up your car without them and bag your groceries when you get home. You’ll never forget your bags again!
Switch to bar shampoo
Shampoo bars are package-free, making them much better for the environment than liquid shampoos. Plus, they’re very concentrated, so they last a long time. Lush has a lot of great, affordable shampoo bar options.
Use cloth napkins
Choosing to use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins helps you cut down on waste. Plus, they usually look nicer and end up costing less in the long run.
Say no to plastic straws ALWAYS
Last year, Americans used about 390 million plastic straws daily. Most of those straws end up straight in the trash. Choose to drink your drinks without a straw or bring along a bamboo or metal straw in your diaper bag, car, or purse.
Hang dry clothing
Dry your clothes the old-fashioned way. Line drying your clothes conserves energy and reduces your carbon footprint. It’s also gentler on clothing and saves money. If the weather isn’t good, you can still dry them inside on an indoor drying rack.
Choose organic cotton over regular cotton
Regular cotton is frequently treated with harmful GMOs and pesticides. This makes it harsher on skin, unsafe for farmers, and detrimental to the environment. Organic cotton has a much lower environmental footprint, it’s hypoallergenic, and it’s free of dangerous chemicals.
Reusable water bottles
Resolve to never buy a plastic water bottle ever again. It’s so important to stay hydrated, but you don’t need to create waste in order to do so. Get a reusable water bottle and keep one with you all the time.
Cook at home
Commit to making home-cooked meals more often and eating out less. Not only will it be better for your health, but you’ll also eliminate tons of unnecessary packaging from take-out and delivery.
Switch over to organic cotton tampons and pads. It’s better for your body, better for the environment, and better for farmers. My favorite brand is Cora -- plus, they provide pads and health education to girls in need with every purchase.
Sure, this one may sound obvious. But the truth is, we could all do a little better when it comes to recycling. Take the time to learn about what can and can’t be recycled. Place a number of recycling bins throughout your home, wherever you think you’ll use them most. Then, make sure you always recycle -- even when it’s hard.
Grow a small garden
Start growing your own produce in your backyard. Fresh, homegrown vegetables and herbs taste amazing, and they’re safe. Plus, any food you grow yourself has a much lower impact on the environment than commercial produce. Don’t have a yard for your own vegetable garden? Find a community garden, or start small by growing a few fresh herbs right in your kitchen.
Borrow one-time items instead of buying
Whenever I don’t have something that I need, my knee-jerk reaction is to go out and buy it. However, borrowing is often a much better choice. It helps you declutter, it saves money, and it cuts down on waste. Here’s a great list of items you should almost always borrow instead of buy. Just be sure to be as quick to lend as you are to borrow!
Use reusable silverware
If you often eat lunch at work, keep silverware at your desk instead of using plastic utensils every single day. You can even go the extra mile by keeping other dishes nearby -- cups, bowls, plates, etc.
Reusable coffee mugs
If you’re an avid coffee-drinker, invest in a reusable mug or tumbler. It’ll keep your drink warm for longer and it’ll cut down on tons of waste. Bonus -- lots of cafés offer a discount to people who bring in their own cup.
Upgrade your makeup routine
Switching makeup brands can do wonders for your plastic consumption. Look for brands that use natural ingredients and avoid plastic packaging. Two of my favorite brands are Elate Cosmetics and Antonym Cosmetics.
No plastic bags in the produce section
We’ve already talked about avoiding plastic bags at the checkout counter -- don’t bag your produce in them, either. Bring smaller reusable bags from home and bag your fruits and veggies in those, or simply go bagless.
Take good care of your body
Stay active and exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Eat a healthy, nutritious diet. Taking proper care of yourself first helps keep you motivated to make good decisions and take the extra steps required to make mindful, sustainable choices.
Simplify your life. Cut back on the products you use in general. From your wardrobe to your beauty regimen, turning to minimalism helps you focus on what’s really important in your life. Rather than mindlessly purchasing things you don’t truly need, you’ll invest in products and routines that positively influence your other decisions.
There are plenty of simple changes you can make in order to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but sustainability is about more than just recycling and reducing waste. It’s about being more conscious of your decisions and choosing to live responsibly. It’s a way of showing you care about the environment and making it a better place for everyone. This coming year, let’s all try a little harder to make this world a little better.
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