12 Simple tips for a more Eco Friendly Life
Once upon a time, hearing the phrases “Eco Friendly”, “Sustainable”, or “DIY” brought up images of long-haired, granola-eating hippies. Fast forward to now. We’re living in a strange age that combines leaps and bounds in technology with an evolved sense of social awareness. Most of us understand the importance of sustainability and social consciousness in our everyday life. Problem is, we are also distracted and overly busy and sometimes those ethically positive solutions feel like a totally inaccessible luxury.
That’s why we want to help you put together some simple ideas on how you can make a few simple (and low-commitment) lifestyle changes in your everyday life.
So here are 12 tips to get your started on the path to a more ecologically responsible lifestyle:
1. Embrace DIY in any area you feel comfortable tackling, such as DIY clothing projects, upcycling furniture and even gardening. Doing anything yourself is automatically a more sustainable option - not to mention so much more rewarding.
2. Shop small, shop local: try to buy things from local producers and/or vintage. Doing so will not only reduce your carbon footprint - it supports your local economy. Plus it's fun!
3. Make your own food. Buy less take out and try to avoid pre-made instant dinners. Learn to cook simple, healthy food. Bonus points if you took up gardening and use your own veggies!
4. Remember the old phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle”? There’s a reason that “Reduce” is the first one on the list. We all remember it’s important to recycle, compost and use reusable storage containers (instead of disposable). The thing that’s easiest to forget is to create less waste in the first place. Try to avoid excess packaging, buying items that break quickly or are ultimately disposable. There’s almost always a less wasteful option.
5. Ditch the plastic bags. Get a few fabric shopping totes and use those rather than plastic bags. Even paper bags are a better solution than plastic. You can also buy your own portable coffee cups and use those when you’re picking up your morning java instead of disposable ones. Keep empty glass jars instead of tossing them and use them for storing leftovers. There are a million ways to replace plastic!
6. When you do buy something - invest! Buy higher priced, but higher quality items that won’t need to be replaced as frequently. There’s a catch-22 here though; more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality. So focus on functionality and durability rather than price.
7. Donate, share, trade or sell items you don’t need any more. Instead of tossing something out, see if it has an alternate use. Giving something you’re finished with a new purpose in life (whether it’s in your home or someone else’s) is always a better option.
8. Be aware of the materials you’re buying. There are a lot of alternatives to plastic available nowadays; silicone, bamboo, waxed fabrics... Same goes for clothing - upgrade to organic cotton, and when in doubt, go with natural fibers. You will also get the added value of feeling and looking extra chic since green is the new black!
9. Switch to silicone solutions rather than plastic ones. There’s just about everything made from silicone nowadays - even drinking straws! They offer the same ease-of-use as plastic, but they are meant to be reused!
10. Save on your energy consumption. Turn off lights when you leave a room, turn off your computer when you’re stepping away from it, switch to LED and other energy saving lighting fixtures. There are tons of possibilities. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can even check out setting up some solar panels to supplement your regular energy source.
11. Go vegetarian (or vegan if you’re brave)... once a week. It’s a fact that the meat and dairy industry contributes more to CO2 emissions than the entire transportation industry. It’s also fair to say that committing to an entirely new dietary lifestyle is a crazy change. Like any diet, it can be nearly impossible to stick to. That’s why it’s perfectly acceptable to *reduce* your consumption rather than feeling like you have to turn your whole life upside down. Honestly, there’s no secret vegan police watching your every move. Except for Jessica, but she’s a bitch and could stand to be less nosy anyway.
12. If it’s broken - fix it! Those of us who live in Western cultures have been brainwashed into simply getting rid of something once it’s been broken. Now I’m not saying you need to try and superglue a smashed glass back together and risk cutting your mouth every time you take a sip of juice. However, there are a lot of times when a chair gets wobbly or a shirt gets a hole in it and we simply toss it out. Even if it’s something we love! Whenever possible, try and fix something before you simply get rid of it. The internet is literally FILLED with tutorials on how to do just about anything yourself.
It’s important to remember that making changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle doesn’t need to be a heavy commitment. I don’t know about you, but when I think about being more socially responsible I get a wave of anxiety about all the things I should be doing better. The guilt can sometimes be overwhelming. But you know what? It’s perfectly OK to be ready to make one change at a time. Think about what would be the easiest thing for you to change and start with that.
The world doesn’t need 1% of the population doing sustainability perfectly. What the world needs is 99% of the population doing it imperfectly. So drop the guilt and make a little change. You’ll feel better about yourself for it, and so will the earth.