There are soooo many different ways you can be more environmentally conscious. This list isn’t exhaustive, but these’s are some of the top lifestyle changes I’m making to try to be mindful of on the day-to-day to reduce my own impact:
1. Less Meat, More Veggies
Eating more vegetables and less meat or forgoing meat altogether has two big benefits. The first is for your physical health and the second is for the health of the planet. I’ve made a conscious effort within the past year to try to eat less meat. It has become easy over time to cook less meat at home. When going out to eat I allow myself to eat meat but I try to cut back and choose more veggie alternatives.
Eating less meat is not only good for your health but it really helps the environment. More fruits and vegetables can grow on less land than meat. They also require less fossil fuel to produce than meat does.
2. Replace plastic products with alternatives
I could go on and on about replacing plastic products with other alternatives. I’ll probably dive deeper in to this topic at some point. There are soooo many plastic items that we use that we can easily find alternatives for. For now I’ll list a few of the products I’ve most recently transitioned to their plastic alternatives:
- Bamboo tooth brush
- Plastic wrap alternative
- Compostable cutlery (I try to opt for real plates and utensils before the latter)
Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.(The Balance Small Business). Yes, you read that right! That’s shocking and alarming. So anytime I have the option to trade up something disposable made out of plastic with a compostable eco-friendly alternative I go with the gentler choice for our planet. Once you start replacing a few items here and there, you become more conscious and it’s really easy to start replacing objects with other environmentally friendly options.
3. Find a way to recycle more objects
Once I started to become more environmentally conscious I started to think about how I could recycle more objects. I know it’s not good to throw things away such as TVs, batteries, cellphones, etc. but I still regularly see those items in the trash or put on curbs. I make an effort to find a way to recycle all objects.
Recently, I learned that not all beauty containers that you recycle are accepted at recycling centers. Origins accept beauty containers for recycling. I’ve started to try to find more ways to recycle objects that I use. I’ve begun to realize that once you start to look for them, you’ll find more companies and places that recycle objects that are beyond the standard plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
It’s easy enough for me to develop the mindset of “I must recycle this!” I now start to look for ways to recycle before I consider throwing objects away. You can ask my friends and family… 😉 Here are a few places you can consider when recycling everyday objects:
- Jeans: Madewell. (Plus you’ll get $20 off a new pair when you donate!)
- Cosmetic Containers: Origins
- Clothes: Any clothing that has rips or stains can still be donated to organizations that will recycle the fabric. Do a search to find companies in your area that will take old tattered clothing and fabrics. American Textile Recycling Service has bins in select areas across the United States. Any items that cannot be reused are recycled.
- Electronics: There are tons of organizations out there that you can donate old electronics to. Many local zoos have collection boxes for cellphone donations. ECO-CELL has donation boxes set up at zoos across the U.S.
Basically anytime I have an item that I no longer need or that I can no longer use I find a way to donate it or recycle it. There’s no need to throw away items when there are so many companies and resources that will take these items and give them a second life. When in doubt, a quick google search will help!
4. Carry reusable bags and to-go cups at all times
This may seem obvious but I often find myself forgetting to bring these items with me. I’ve recently adopted the mentality that if I do not have re-usable cup with me then I cannot grab a coffee from a cafe. This helps me be sure that I remember to bring a re-usable cup with me.
I also try and keep reusable bags in the back of my car at all times. This ensures that I always have bags on hand in the event that I need to run to the store for a few items. Being a little rigid and not allowing myself to have a coffee or making myself carry out items from the store by hand makes me be more mindful for the next time I go to a coffee shop or grocery store.
5. Shop Locally
With the internet, buying things has become very easy with the click of a button. Buying online usually means more packaging and more fuel burned during transportation.
It’s not as though I don’t shop online anymore but I do try to buy locally as much as I can. This helps local business owners. I can control certain factors like whether I’ll take a plastic bag or I can select items based on which have less packaging. Buying local sometimes means that less fuel is used in transportation if the product was made or produced locally.
In 2013, the average rate of packaging recycling (excluding compost) was below 25 percent according to Resource Recycling Systems, (NBC News). On top of this, less than 7 percent of all plastic films and wraps are recycled by consumers according to a report from Moore Recycling Associates in 2015, (NBC News).
If shopping locally more often means I’m helping to burn less fossil fuels, produce less waste and contribute to my local economy then it’s an easy choice to make!
What lifestyle changes have you made to be more environmentally conscious?