I think that all too often we hear about how we should be ‘going green’ and think that means a huge overhaul on your lifestyle. Really, it is much more simple than that! You can make small changes that create a larger impact. In 2020, one of my goals is to be more ‘green’ in how I live and what I buy. That does not mean I am going to be vegan tomorrow or make huge life-altering concessions, but it does mean I am going to be more thoughtful in how I buy things and what I’m doing daily.
If you’re thinking about making that move with me, here are 7 easy ways you can be more mindful of your impact on the world without becoming a vegan overnight:
- Use your reusable bags! I am terrible about remembering to bring my reusable bags into the store with me. I have finally started putting them in my front seat instead of in the trunk where I will inevitably forget them. This change takes some getting used to. When we lived in Austin, TX, you either had reusable bags or were charged for getting the plastic bags! (They have since changed the rules some, but it got us in the habit quick!) Now, I am so used to having a bag that if I do forget, I just put everything in my cart and take it all to the car where I put everything in bags before I leave the parking lot.
- Replace items around your house with more sustainable options as they wear out or break. I recently had a hairbrush, which is purely plastic, break. When I went to replace it, I opted to try a brush made entirely from bamboo. The bamboo is more gentle and is able to detangle without breaking my hair. I have been using it for just over a month and my hair is in better shape because of it! Replacing household items is as simple as a Google or Amazon search.
- Reduce your chemicals! Household cleaners have a lot of chemicals in them (not so shocking), but more and more brands are finding ways to create safer options for cleaning that do the job as well or better than their chemical-driven competitors. Grove Collective is a site dedicated to those safer options, but even big-box stores like Target have jumped in and now offer options like Seventh Generation, which are more eco-friendly.
- Recycle! No-brainer, right? If your neighborhood doesn’t offer a recycling program it can be a little more effort to get your recycling to the right place. Most cities have a drop off for recycling through the local recycling plant, but if you keep an eye out as you are driving in your area, you may spot bins elsewhere such as Whole Foods and even Target. I work for a company that does a lot of recycling and has a huge bin outside the building. So even though my neighborhood no longer recycles, I can drop it into the bin at work.
- Know what to recycle in the first place. There are a lot of things that can be recycled in one way or another that you may not think about. For instance, did you realize that batteries should be recycled? They have to be deposited in a designated place for special handling, but batteries that do not make it to a recycling facility end up in a waste dump leaking into the soil and elsewhere.
- Rethink your makeup and skincare products. This is another area that I have been replacing with different products and brands as my items are used up. Leaning into products that are made naturally, without harsh chemicals, and are not tested on animals (EVER) has been a great change. My skin looks and feels more refreshed on a daily basis and I know that the companies are doing things in more sustainable and ethical ways. (I have switched to Acure skincare completely and haven’t looked back!)
- Skip the trash bin and donate! With the number of ways you can donate both clothing and household goods, there is no reason to throw them into the trash bin except laziness (which is not a good excuse). Facilities like Goodwill and Salvation Army are donation staples, but you can also find bins around most cities that accept donations for families in need. Local churches and charities are always in need of gently used items, as well. It is simply a matter of looking past the trash can and offering those things to people who are in need. Remember the old saying? ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’? You never know who may value the item you no longer need.
None of these things is rocket science by any stretch, but each small action does make a difference. When we are making these types of choices part of our daily/weekly routine, they become habits (and good ones at that!). Look around you a little more closely and see if you can’t find a way to make a small change here or there. You make a difference, so make sure it is a positive one!