Considering some eco-friendly lifestyle changes, but intimidated by how much work it will be? All those Pinterest-perfect DIY images floating around of homemade make-up and soaps certainly don’t help the beginner feel like it’s within reach! Or maybe you’re just trying to become more informed on why some people are so obsessed with these organic and plastic-free trends.
Either way, fantastic – and welcome to the party!
I always just naively thought that habits like recycling, never littering, and minimizing water waste were basic actions any decent human being has in their daily routine. Growing up we cut the plastic rings from soda can packs, did beach clean-ups, and through Girls Scouts I internalized the concept of “leave every place cleaner than you found it” when enjoying nature.
But I now realize now how fortunate I was to get this healthy foundation, as I see grown adults throw cans into the trashcan without batting an eye and am reminded that many people just don’t fully understand the impact of these collective actions.While my eco-friendly roots were laid early, I hadn’t actually thought to take it further until fairly recently though, when I had the realization that these ‘good citizen’ habits are simply not enough.
Seeing pictures of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for the first time just hit me like a ton of bricks.
The notion that our overall volume of plastic waste, in addition to pollution and destruction from big business production processes, is causing visible and measurable harm to ocean life inspired me to start finding ways to do more. Creating more awareness around these issues and introducing practical solutions we can all get behind was where it started [enter this website!], but at the same time I’m challenging myself to purchase and consume more consciously as well – and changing habits isn’t easy!
So for those who aspire to do better, welcome! And thank you for joining me on this journey.
To help you get started, here are my top reasons for going eco-friendly – and some quick and practical ways to start:
1. 544,000 trees could be saved every year if each U.S. household replaces just one roll of 70-sheet virgin fiber paper towels with a roll of 100% recycled paper towels
How you can help reduce tree deforestation:
- Good: Recycle all cardboard and paper waste your household produces. (plus preferably all rectclable items – here’s a handy guide). Not too hard, right?
- Better: Look for “100% Recycled” with your paper purchases. You might be surprised that the price difference can be nominal, and the quality is perfectly sufficient. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water!
- Best: Look for opportunities to swap some of your paper products for reusable fabric, such as cloth napkins vs. paper ones. Some people even create cloth paper towel rolls and cloth cosmetic wipes. I’m not there yet, but more power to you if you are!
2. By the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish make drastic changes in our plastic waste habits.
How you can help reduce plastic waste from entering the ocean:
- Good: Reusable shopping bags in place of plastic ones are a great start. If you live in an area where stores can no longer give you a single use plastic bag, you may already be on this path. A couple other easy ones are eliminating us of plastic straws (just don’t grab one when you get takeout, and buy a metal or glass one to use at home). And obviously don’t litter, we can assume that’s a given.
- Better: Think twice before you buy that crappy plastic toy you know your kid will only play with for a day and then lose or break. Instead, try to shop from companies that are focused on quality over quantity, and especially brands that use recycled materials and minimize plastic packaging. Brands like Wild Dill and Krochet Kids are great options.
- Best: Seek out brands that collect plastic waste from the ocean and turn it into sellable goods. Discarded fishing nets make up a large volume of the ocean’s plastic waste, and some amazing products are being created from these materials. 4Ocean’s bracelets promise a pound of plastic removed for every bracelet made. Some brands are even inventing plastic alternatives that are another great option. For example Pela Case makes a fantastic biodegradable phone case from plant-based materials.
3. We consume 400% more clothing today versus 20 years ago and the average garment is only worn seven times before it gets thrown out.The fast fashion trend needs to SLOW DOWN.
How you can support the slow fashion movement to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry:
- Good: Shop quality over quantity so you can get more use out of each time, and lean towards classic and timeless pieces so you can be unaffected by the rapid nature of the fast fashion trends.
- Better: Buy less. Do we REALLY need that 25th pair of shoes? I know they’re cute, but if we consume less and don’t gobble up the next fashion trend the moment it hits the shelves, than the fashion industry won’t be incentivized to maintain this unsustainable pace.
- Best: There’s a hot new trend of embracing upcycling and thrift store finds. This is quite a lifestyle change, but if you’re ready for it, it’s certainly the best way to show fast fashion we don’t need it.
4. The clothing industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world… second only to oil. Between chemical dyes and the more than a half trillion gallons of fresh water that are used in the dyeing of textiles each year.
How can you help support sustainable fashion and reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry?
- Good: Look for “organic” on the label. Nope, it’s not just a food thing. The chemicals used to grow the cotton and dye the fabrics is literally killing the farmers and destroying rivers and streams, so organic cotton reduces the environmental impact of the process. Unfortunately it only makes up 1% of cotton grown currently, but let’s help change that by demanding more.
- Better:Seek out brands that talk about sustainability. If a brand isn’t talking about it, they’re probably not doing it so don’t give them your support. The more we can support brands championing has for sustainable practices, the more success they will have and hopefully it will eventually force the hand of other brands to get on the bandwagon. A couple of our favorites are Bead & Reel, Love Justly, and Tree Tribe.
- Best: All of the above, plus spread the word! People need to know it’s not just the hippies and crunchies anymore. It won’t tarnish your reputation (done respectfully) and in fact
The list certainly can (and does!) go on, but hopefully this gives you some motivation and ideas on where you can begin.
How are you planning on starting to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Share with us in the comments below!