If you’ve read Our Story, you’ll know that one of our goals for this blog is to encourage our readers (that’s you!) to be more conscious about what and how they consume. But you may be wondering, “Where the heck do I even start?” That’s why we created a list of 13 easy ways that you can start consuming more sustainably today. We’ll even recommend products to make it easier for you to consume more sustainably! These are products we’ve bought and use ourselves on a daily basis.
1. Stop buying plastic water bottles!
One of the easiest and simplest ways to consume more sustainably is to stop buying plastic water bottles! No matter what you’ve been told, plastic bottles are not sustainable nor are they biodegradable. Producing the plastic bottles use vast quantities of fossil fuels and water and are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the global. Even if you recycle them, majority of plastic bottles don’t end up in landfill. They float around on beaches, soil, and in water where toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into water and soil. Oh hell nah. Purchase reusable water bottles instead. Our go-to is a Hydro Flask. We recommend going with any double wall vacuum insulated bottle. This technology keeps your beverages hot or cold for hours!
2. Buy reusable grocery bags and produce bags.
Buying reusable grocery bags and produce bags reduces the amount of waste we generate and the amount of resources used to produce plastic and paper bags. You can buy reusable grocery bags at most grocery stories for a couple of bucks a bag. If you buy a lot of produce like we do, we highly recommend purchasing these purifyou Premium Reusable Mesh Bags for storing fruits and vegetables.
3. Ditch dryer sheets and opt for dryer balls instead.
Synthetic fabric softeners and dryer sheets are full of chemicals that can harm your skin and the environment. We highly recommend these Wool Dryer Balls by Smart Sheep as a safer and more natural alternative. These dryers balls can last for thousands of loads and the balls can last between 2 and 4 years. They also shorten drying time by 25%, saving you money on your energy bill. Each ball is all-natural, hypoallergenic and contains no fillers, chemicals or synthetics.
4. Use rechargeable batteries.
Many battery types contain harmful chemicals that can cause problems if leaked or if not disposed of properly. To avoid potential health problems to you or to the environmental, purchase rechargeable batteries. We bought the Panasonic Eneloop with Standard Charger and they work great.
5. Bring your own travel mug and reusable straw.
We aim for using reusable products instead of single-use products, even if those single-use products are compostable. At the end of the day you’re still generating more waste than necessary so bring your own travel mug and reusable straw for your caffeine fix.
Some of our favorite travel mugs are:
- Klean Kanteen
- YETI Rumbler 14oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug Lid
- Zojirushi 16oz Stainless Steel Mug
For reusable straws, these 8-pack stainless steel straws come is various lengths and widths.
6. Eat less processed and packaged foods.
The evolution and rise of convenience food in America has resulted in a staggering number of health-related problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Not only do processed and packaged foods contain a lot of additives and preservatives, the packaging of the food produces a lot of waste. Try to eat less processed and packaged foods whenever possible and aim to consume more whole foods. Your health and environment will thank you.
7. Reduce your amount of paper towel waste and buy reusable cloths instead.
In the United States, 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year, amounting to 40 pounds per person, per year. Yikes! The single-use paper towel generates and consumes a lot of resources, including 110 million trees per year and 130 billion gallons of water. In addition, large amounts of energy are used to manufacture and ship it to various stores around the world, causing plenty of carbon dioxide to be emitted into the atmosphere.
A more sustainable alternative is to purchase reusable towels or cloths instead. We bought the AmazonBasics 24-Pack Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. They’re great for drying, cleaning, and wiping down various surfaces.
If you must use paper towels, purchase the 100% recycle paper towels from Seventh Generation, and they’re 100% compostable.
8. Use environmental friendly household products.
Using eco-friendly products are not just better for the environment but also better for you and your family! Most eco-friendly products are non-toxic, derived from plants, and contain no harsh chemicals. Some brands that are great at making non-toxic, plant-derived products are:
You can find these brands at most department stores and drug stores, such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS, and online at Amazon.
9. Compost food waste and compostable packaging.
Compost any food waste and compostable products whenever possible! Not only are compostable products biodegradable but provide an extra benefit to Mother Earth: when broken down, compostable products and food waste release valuable nutrients back into the soil and leave no toxic residue.
You can buy special compostable bins from Amazon and compostable bags to go with it. We recommend the Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin and these 100-count 100% compostable bags from Amazon. The compost bin is supposed to prevent fruit flies but dispose the contents of the bin every 2-4 days juuuuuuust in case.
10. Buy local.
Head to your nearest farmer’s market or purchase goods in grocery stores that are labeled “local”. Why is buying local important? For one, eating local means more money stays within your community. Two, local produce is fresher and tastes better because it is usually sold within 24 hours of being picked. And three, eating local reduces your carbon footprint because your food isn’t being driven or flown from miles away. Need I say more?
11. Buy fair trade.
When possible, buy products with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal. When you see these seals, you can be sure it was made according to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards. Learn more about the Fair Trade movement here. It’s pretty awesome what they’re doing!
12. Eat less animal products.
I’m sure you’ve heard the news about livestock production and its serious impacts on the environment; it affects air and water quality, ocean health, competes with biodiversity and is the largest land user in the world. Thus, reducing your animal consumption would save the environment immensely. We’re not saving you should become a vegetarian or a vegan; it’s not an easy lifestyle for those of us who love meat. Take it from us; we struggle with this constantly. If it’s hard for you to reduce your consumption of animal products, start with reducing your consumption of red meat since the production of red meat uses 10x more resources than poultry, pork, dairy, and eggs. We’ve reduced our beef consumption to about once a month and opt for Meatless Mondays.
13. Eat seasonal fruits & vegetables.
Seasonal produce is more fresh, tasty, and nutritious than produce consumed out of season. In addition, seasonal produce usually means the produce is grown locally which helps reduce our carbon footprint. To see the list of seasonal fruits and vegetables in your area, visit https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/ or download the Seasonal Food Guide app.