I know. Living sustainably sounds like one of those complicated, change too many bad habits, uproot your life type of ideas. You’ve read about it. You know it’s good for the environment. But, where do you start? Here’s ten everyday, easy to adopt sustainable practices. They’re so simple you’ll wonder why you aren't doing all of them already!
Eat local. Go ahead!
Grab a donut from that uber cute bakery on the corner. Don’t even feel guilty about it. You'll be reducing your carbon footprint by shopping locally instead of at a larger chain store. Most of the food we eat travels over 2,000 miles from farm to plate. That just sounds excessive. Food transportation harms the environment through carbon emissions from trucks and trains. How fresh is that bunch of spinach after such a long trip? Try subscribing to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in your city. Receive fresh fruits and vegetables each week that were grown right in your area. Learn more about why we love CSA's here.
Carpool or vanpool.
Van party every day. A party in your car is always more fun. Burning of fossil fuels is the largest contributor to green house gas emissions. The average mid-sized car emits 1.3 tons of CO2 annually for a 10-mile round trip commute to work. Commuting can be stressful, it’s definitely mundane, and oh so harmful. Invite friends from work to start a carpool and change up your routine. Most people equally hate commuting. Besides, no one wants to be the person who says, “No. Thanks. I’ll keep polluting our Earth.” Relinquish yourself from the responsibility of driving to and from work each day. It'll feel good!
Eat Organic. Hell no GMO!
Why are non-organic options even being sold? Look out for the USDA Certified Organic label the next time you're shopping. The certification prohibits the use of genetically modified ingredients, pesticides on produce, and growth promoting hormones in meat production. Those chemicals have been linked to brain damage, hormone imbalances, weakened immune system, several types of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, infertility, and birth defects. Just to name a few. Okay, I admit it. That was more than just a few. Are you ready to try that organic brand you’ve been seeing in the grocery store, yet?
Fight Weeds Organically.
You know that stack of newspapers you never read? They're still good for something. Layer them on soil to prevent the growth of weeds. Then, cover with mulch. Why purchase harmful chemicals when you have a stack of old newspapers just laying around? The overuse of pesticides has created superbugs, pests with built up immune systems. Thus, furthering a cycle that requires even stronger chemicals to be manufactured. Pesticides are rarely discriminatory. They kill beneficial insects, such as bumblebees and butterflies which are crucial to the eco-system's pollination process. Without which we would struggle to grow much of our food.
The "it" bag for every season!
Reusable shopping bags are always in fashion. It doesn't matter what season it is, what color it is, or if you had the same one last year. In fact, it's better if you did have the same one last year! The debate over paper or plastic has long been resolved. Reusable is the way to go. Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Production of plastic requires petroleum and often natural gas. Both of which are non-renewable resources. Paper bags are a burden on forests and require large amounts of energy to manufacture. Reusable shopping bags come in several sizes and materials. Ban.do has a super cute eco-shopper and so does Kate Spade.
Grow a garden. It’s super easy.
The seeds really do all the work. Okay. Maybe, you're not there yet. However, you can volunteer at a community garden! Plant your own food without the hassle of starting from scratch! Planting boxes or plots of land are typically ready and waiting to be planted. A huge perk is that you get to eat organically for a fraction of the cost of buying the same foods at the grocery store. Planting organic gardens promote CO2 absorption from the air while controlling the use of pesticides on produce and in soil. If there isn't one in your neighborhood and you're really ambitious, you can start one!
Stop and smell the cleaning products.
The sprays, concentrates, and scrubs we use around the house to "clean" are actually harming the environment. Toxic chemicals such as dyes, and synthetic fragrances are found in the majority of household cleaners. Look out for the words "chemical free", "biodegradable", and "plant-powered" when perusing the cleaning aisle for more sustainable cleaning options. For a list of green cleaners, check out our 8 favorites. Of course, you can also make your own cleaners out of common household ingredients. Things you already have in the pantry such as baking soda and essential oil make amazing cleaning solutions.
Go where the farmers go.
Going on a date? Have a rare Saturday morning off? Go to the farmer's market! Enjoy local, organic produce and get to know the farmers that grow them. Find hand-crafted tea blends and freshly baked bread from the city you’re in. Pick up a handful of dahlias for the dining room table. Maybe, discover a new love for salsa after trying 10 different yet equally tasty types. This sustainable practice is an easy way to introduce friends and family members to the idea too. It'll hardly feel like you're breaking a bad habit or making a drastic life change. Yet, you are. Building community around small businesses that share the same eco-values as you will promote sustainable growth.
Resale or Donate.
Your friends always want to borrow your stuff anyways. Items that you no longer need can get an extended life through resale and donation. By extending the life of any product, you help reduce dependence on disposable or cheaply made single-use products that end up in landfills. Poshmark and thredUP are two companies that facilitate reselling of clothing and accessories. There is a huge community of people just waiting to see that dress you haven't worn in a year. Not into the hassle of selling online? Consignment stores in your neighborhood will take anything from furniture to paintings. Some even pay for gently used pieces. There are always local churches and Goodwill locations that will put your past treasures to good use.
Minimal Animal Intake.
I won't even get into the health benefits on this one. Eating higher up on the food chain requires more energy and emits more emissions. It diverts water and grains from human use to the less efficient option of animal rearing for slaughter. Methane and nitrous oxide are two emissions associated with meat and dairy production. They are respectively 23 and 296 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Reducing dairy consumption is now easier than ever. There are so many milk alternatives out there. Almond milk is great in sweet recipes. Try rice milk when you want the least flavor added. As far as reducing red-meat intake, I was easy on you guys. This still leaves the option of chicken, turkey, and seafood. That's already a compromise.