Looking to make more sustainable choices this year? I believe every step we can take towards a more sustainable life is a good step. So I am sharing a few simple sustainability steps everyone can take this year!
Start by using what you already have.
Although it feels counter productive using & reusing what you already have is the most sustainable option. When you can buy secondhand or reuse old containers. I am a huge beliver in reusing jars for every possible purpose. I have a cabinet full of them and I haven’t regretted using them. They are free when you buy salsa, spegetthi sauce, or some artisan mustards. I use them to store everything from bacon fat in the fridge to nuts in the pantry. When I open a jar of tomatoes and know I won’t use all of them that day, they go into a jar! I have enough jars to fill with treats to give to friends!
I also use our old plastic containers from yogurt or sour cream for storing or sending dog food with the pup when he goes to the babysitter. I’ve even used these containers for growing plants before recycling them.
A while ago, I made the switch from zip top plastic bags to reusable silicone bags. The only thing I was using them for was to store or marinate raw meats. I hated the singular use of those bags. I began slowly investing in Stasher bags when I made my commitment and I haven’t bought zip top plastic bags in ages. They are air tight, are dishwasher safe, and because they are silicone are reusuable for like ever.
I have been taking my coffee tumbler everywhere with me for so long if I show up somewhere without it someone asks me about it! I have Tumbler from hydroflask with both a straw lid and the coffee/hot beverage lid for maximum versatility.
When the pandemic first hit, reusable grocery bags weren’t allowed at Trader Joe’s because no one really understood at the time how the virus was transfered. It was a hard habit for me to NOT take my reusable grocery bags into the store. I ended up keeping them in my car and using them to carry our groceries up once I got home. I was thankful Trader Joe’s had brown kraft grocery bags throughout the early days of the pandemic, those I could re-use or recycle depending on what I needed!
Buy less plastic.
Easier said than done right? I struggle with this, no matter how hard I try there is always plastic in my house, in my bathroom, and in my kitchen.
Bathroom | I have tried going to a shampoo/conditioner bar instead of using bottled shampoo but honestly my hair didn’t like the change. We have switched from bottled body wash to a bar of soap with no trouble. We have even switched from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo ones, I tend to find the bristles a little softer than a regular toothbrush but they still work really well! We have not switched from tube toothpaste to tablet. I am concerned about the efficacy of them. Another bathroom plastic free switch is to choose plastic free packaged deodorant. I love natural deodorants like Coconut Matter Deodorant and Schmidt’s (which is in plastic). Unfortunately, my face has been breaking out since the beginning of the pandemic, the other thing that has soothed it is liquid face wash in a plastic container.
Kitchen | When possible I always choose to buy products that are not wrapped in plastic. But when it comes to food, this is not always possible. Yougurt always comes in a plastic container which is thankfully recyclable. Choose eggs in a paper container, and then reuse it for planting seeds in the spring, completely biodegradable! When getting fresh produce take your own reusable produce bags instead of using plastic, and try buying in bulk instead of pre-portioned flours, nuts, etc. Take a pre-weighed jar or reusable silicone bag, with the weight noted and fill!
Recycle & Compost responsibly.
Recycling varies by county or even by city. Check with your recycling company to see what # of plastics they accept. Always wash out your recyclables before sending them off. While pizza boxes are in fact cardboard, the bottom of the box that is covered in pizza grease is not recyclable, so tear it off and put it in the trash instead.
While organics can be composted, not everything composts quickly. If your city/county offers composting YEAH YOU! Otherwise, you can get a fancy compost bin for your yard. If you are doing small space living, like yours truly, try your hand at composting in a 5 gallon bucket! I drilled holes in the sides and the bottom before adding some BROWN (dried leaves, sticks) to the bottom of my bin. I then added some soil, and began adding small clippings! Egg shells, trimmings from my garden & house plants, coffee grounds, and grass clippings are popular items I add to ours. I water it and leave it on our patio all year. We don’t add as much in the colder months, as it take much longer to break down. Avoid adding onions, avocado pits & skins, banana peels, as they take too long to break down in this small compost bin and always avoid adding any oil, meat trimmings, or dairy.
We need more people practicing sustainability imperfectly than a few people practicing sustainability perfectly. Which of these will you start in 2021?