With Earth Day 2018 wrapped up, you might be wondering how you as an individual can help protect and preserve the environment every day (#earthdayeveryday). We all know that humans and the rise of consumption haven't been kind to our planet. We also know that it's up to us to reverse as much damage as possible and live more sustainably moving forward.
It's a lofty goal that's incredibly complex and requires global cooperation, but environmental sustainability is the perfect example of "thinking globally and acting locally." In fact, living in alignment with the Earth does not mean you have to sell your car, become an activist, raise your own farm animals and refuse to shower with hot water ever again.
If you do choose to go extreme, we totally support you, but we also understand needing to live within the demands of the 21st century. So in honor of April 22 and Mother Earth Day, we've rounded up 10 ways to live more eco-friendly.
All ideas are simple to grasp, inexpensive to implement (or even help you save money...yay!), do not require any major lifestyle shifts, and can even be genuine fun. So without further adieu, here are 10 cool ideas you can implement right away and become an instant #ecowarrior and feel #nativetothisplace.
1. Reduce Single-Use Plastic
It shouldn't come as a surprise but cutting back on the amount of single-use plastic you consume is one of the most important steps you can take to live eco-friendly. At first, it might seem like a pain in the butt, but when you consider that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050, it becomes a no-brainer.
With single-use plastic all around us, here are five simple ways to reduce your use:
- Purchase a pack of reusable steel straws and keep one in your bag to use at restaurants, bars or with take-out. They usually come in a pack of 12, so you can also help share the love with others around you.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you everywhere (and don't be afraid to ask the Starbucks barista to put your iced tea in it)
- Bring your own shopping bag and refuse any plastic bags at stores
- Carry reusable utensils with you to use instead of plastic forks and knives for take-out
- Opt for one-time drinks that come in glass or paper boxes instead of plastic
2. Embrace Air-Drying Your Clothes
This might actually come as a surprise, but the greatest environmental impact of clothing over its lifetime is not in the production, transportation or disposal, but in its use by the consumer through washing, drying and ironing. In fact, 82% of the energy used from production to disposal of apparel takes place in the laundry room.
What can you do? You can start by asking yourself if you really need to wash something or if you can get another use or two out of it. You can consolidate your laundry loads to be as large as possible instead of just a few pieces. You can line dry and forget the dryer altogether. You can also opt for fabrics that resist smells, stains, stretching and wrinkles, like organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester.
3. Support Eco-Friendly Brands
One of the best ways to make a bigger impact is to support those working toward a greater cause. You are, after all, only one person with limited time and resources. When you help support eco-friendly brands that have a mission to support the Earth, your ability to initiate change is amplified. Just think how far your dollar goes when it's given to a company with an entire team and production chain in place to better the planet?
When shopping big brands, look into their CSR initiatives and see if their production process is transparent. You can also look for 3rd party labels like Fair Trade, Certified Organic or 1% for the Planet. When looking for small brands or green startups (like us!), read their brand story and get a feel for their values. Understand what materials they're using and if your money goes to support philanthropic initiatives (coming soon for us!).
4. Volunteer Your Time
Finding a local environmental organization to volunteer your time with is an amazing way to conserve and preserve your local ecosystem, while also meeting likeminded people, moving your body and breathing fresh air. Truthfully, most modern people do not get outside nearly enough, especially to do anything resembling manual labor. Yet how good do you feel after you do?!
Look locally to find beach or trail cleanups, tree planting or gardening projects, and restoration initiatives. If you're feeling extra inspired, ask your employer or social groups to do a big volunteer day together. Improving the environment easily doubles as a way to bond as a team (and get out of business clothes).
5. Practice Leave No Trace Principles
When you're out hiking, camping, and exploring, practice the seven Leave No Trace Principles. These work in harmony to ensure you have the best time out in nature while also minimizing your impact on the local flora and fauna.
6. Live in a Tree-Free Home
Trees are best left where they're found, the ground. Yet modern day homes are secretly forests with how many tree-based products we buy and consume. To help keep trees where they belong, limit your consumption with the following tips:
- Replace paper napkins and paper towels with cloth
- Limit how much printing you do & opt for double-sided ink and recycled paper
- Read from a tablet versus paper books (and embrace the digital highlight)
- Stay organized by using digital list apps instead of paper notebooks
- Use bleach-free toilet paper made from post-consumer waste to increase biodegradation
7. Wear Organic & Recycled
What you wear counts for a large part of your personal carbon footprint. This includes the materials that your garments are made of and how much energy went in to produce them as well as the energy it takes to maintain them and their lifespan. To care for your health and that of the environment, opt for eco-friendly fabrics in all of your clothing.
Some of our favorite options include:
- Organic Cotton
- Recycled Polyester
- Industrial Hemp
8. Eat Local & Organic
One of the best parts of going eco-friendly with your lifestyle is that it can drastically improve your health in the process. One of the best ways to do so is by switching to an animal-free, plant-based diet.
From an environmental standpoint, consider this. The United Nations has declared that livestock (primarily cows, chickens and pigs) are in the top three causations of environmental damage.
From a health standpoint, the majority of preventable medical conditions stem from a highly processed diet and poor lifestyle choices. Switching to fully (or primarily) plant-based will increase your overall well-being and your ability to dominate in the outdoors.
9. Be Conscious About Consumption
A change in lifestyle starts with being aware that a change is necessary. This initial lightbulb moment probably won't last forever, though, so you need to check in with yourself from time to time. When you use the moment of purchase as a trigger point for introspection, you'll train yourself to make better choices subconsciously.
Before loading up on Amazon, at the mall, the store or anywhere really, ask yourself if you're making the most eco-friendly decision. Is there another, more eco-friendly option you can go with? Can you hold off so that the shipment is consolidated into one instead of multiple? Do you even really need it?
Asking these questions will lead to you owning things that you truly love and use, versus a ton of pointless junk. You'll be a slow consumer and be part of a global tribe of people who are using their dollar as a means to initiate meaningful and necessary change.
10. Be a Public Source of Inspiration
Lastly, document your eco-friendly journey and be a source of inspiration for people within your network! Take selfies, add it to your Instagram stories, hashtag #ecofriendly like crazy, share relevant articles (oh hey, like this one), and use it as a conversation topic. Going eco-friendly isn't the easiest nor widely accepted practice in the country yet, so your insights will help others kickstart or improve their own practice. Don't be shy, be a change maker!
What other eco-friendly tips do you have? Let us know on Facebook so we can help spread the message!