The Road to Sustainability
When it comes to embracing a sustainable lifestyle, one of the toughest things is to simply recognize WHERE to begin. We are inundated with messages about the dire state of the climate crisis (and rightfully so!), but there tends to be less communication about what individuals can do to lessen their individual impact. It can feel crippling and downright hopeless.
Today I am here to tell you that the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to living more sustainably is doing NOTHING at all. The second biggest mistake you can make is attempting to transform every area of your life all at once.
Although many of us are well-intentioned and desire to live more sustainably, it is all too easy to succumb to analysis paralysis. Over analyzing our daily lives combined with an all or nothing mentality often leaves us doing nothing at all. Remind yourself as you embark on this journey that small changes DO matter. Focus on the impact of these small changes over time.
Your journey to sustainability will not be perfect, so lay that expectation to rest right now. I know from personal experience that there will be missteps as you navigate how to best integrate sustainability into your life. Trust me when I say that perfection is not mandatory!
I have created this list to serve as a launching point. Start with a single action that you can implement into your life today. Choose the item that jumps out to you as being the EASIEST action to embrace in your life at this moment. Disregard any notion that an action is unimportant simply because it’s easy - easy is manageable and you’re more likely to stick with it when life gets chaotic. Let easy be your starting point!
Once you have mastered your initial change, choose a second to embrace. Then continue to work your way through the list!
This list is far from all encompassing, but it’s a fantastic place to start. I would love to hear where you are in your journey as well as any other tips you may have.
Give yourself grace as you embark on this journey friends, and remember that we’re all in this together. Let’s do this!
- Switch to a powdered laundry detergent - powdered formulas use significantly less water to produce.
- If you must use liquid detergent, choose a natural option that is biodegradable rather than petroleum based.
- Kick plastic (yes, plastic!) dryer sheets to the curb. Choose sustainable wool dryer balls instead.
- Wash your clothes less - only washing them when they are actually dirty. Wearing your jeans 10 times before washing can reduce water usage by 77% and extend the life of your garment.
- Line dry clothing - you’ll use less energy and extend the life of your clothes!
- Buy vintage clothing.
- Stop buying fast fashion, and focus on quality over quantity when you purchase clothing. It is estimated that MORE THAN HALF of the fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year.
- Make it a goal to wear a garment a MINIMUM of 30 times. If you can’t envision being able to wear an item 30 times, don’t purchase it. Be a proud outfit repeater!
- Take care of the clothing you already own - follow care instructions, repair, and upcycle your garments. By extending the life of your clothing by an additional 9 months you can reduce your carbon, water, and waste footprint EACH by 20-30%!
- Avoid purchasing clothing made from synthetic fibers. Each year, more than a half-million metric tons of microfibers—the equivalent of 50 billion plastic water bottles—enter the ocean from the washing of synthetic textiles. Instead look for biodegradable and natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, and Tencel.
- Choose organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown without harmful chemicals that contaminate soil, water, and air making it healthier for you and those who grow it. Organic cotton also uses far less water than conventionally grown cotton.
- Say goodbye to your plastic toothbrush. Instead, purchase toothbrushes made from sustainably grown bamboo.
- Swap your plastic dental floss (yes, most dental floss is made of plastic!) for biodegradable floss that can be refilled.
- Ditch single use menstrual products. Opt for reusable options like a menstrual cup, cloth pads, or reusable menstrual underwear instead.
- Eliminate cotton balls from your daily routine. Choose reusable cotton squares that can be washed and reused indefinitely.
- Welcome a luxurious bar of body soap into your life, and say goodbye to plastic bottles of body wash.
- Use a shampoo and conditioner bar instead of plastic bottles when you wash your tresses. Aluminum bottles also provide a more sustainable option if you can’t give up liquid cleansers!
- Keep a grocery kit in your car that includes containers for bulk items as well as reusable shopping bags and produce bags.
- Choose one regularly used household item or food staple to buy in bulk using your own reusable container.
- Plan and eat more plant-based meals to reduce carbon emissions.
- Buy organic and local when you can. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. Better yet, start a garden to grow some of your own food!
- Experiment with making your own all purpose cleaner or choose a plant-based and biodegradable option.
- Choose reusable UNpaper Towels instead of disposable paper towels for cleaning and napkins.
- Cut old t-shirts into cleaning cloths for heavy duty cleaning.
- Reuse glass jars to store bulk groceries, leftovers, elderberry syrup, and other homemade tonics. Glass jars can also be repurposed as planters!
- Replace plastic bottles of dish detergent with a solid dishwashing block.
ON THE GO
- Store a reusable coffee mug (or two!) in your vehicle or bag that you carry each day.
- Store a reusable utensil set in your car, bag, or office desk.
- Consider splitting meals when you dine out to reduce food waste and the need for plastic to-go containers.
- Find a reusable water bottle that you love, and make it your favorite accessory. Break up with plastic bottles of water!