Moving to Sustainable Living: A Beginner’s Journey
I’m not sure where this whole sustainable living this actually started for me; though California banning single use plastic bags at grocery stores was likely part of the impetus.
Or maybe it was all the fires in California increasing my awareness of the reality of poor air quality prompting me to research air-cleaning indoor plants and attempting to grow some (so far so good, surprisingly!).
Definitely learning about the great garbage patch and the ocean-cleaning efforts attempting to clean it all up made me stop and take notice.
Or maybe I’m just hitting a mid-life crisis and realizing I don’t want to leave a burden for my children and grandchildren to be stuck trying to fix (is 33 too early for that?!).
Whatever the case, the result has been a slow transition towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle over the past year. I’ve become much more aware of the volume of waste my household produces, my family’s impact on the environment, and the fact that there’s a lot we could be doing differently – and so began our sustainable journey towards becoming more conscious consumers. Which looks like a combination of major mental shifts and incremental changes.
If you’re looking to begin your own eco-friendly journey, here’s a running list of the changes and purchases we’ve made thus far that has allowed us to embark upon this sustainable journey in a manageable fashion:
Eco-Friendly Swaps We’ve Made
Reducing plastic waste became a very obvious starting place, such as eliminating zip locs, plastic wrap, plasticware and plastic straws and replacing them with reusable alternatives, as well as reducing our overall waste and composting food waste (a topic for another day, but so far so good!).
Here are some of the items that we purchased to get the ball rolling:
- Wax-coated fabric bowl covers. I got mine at Trader Joes, but these are similar – $12.10 (3-pack)
- Reusable snack bags, like this Stasher bag I finally shelled out for a LOVE – $11.99
- Muslin Produce bags – $16.97 (pack of 12 5″x7″ bags)
- A flatware set for the office – $9.58
- Kitchen compost pail – $16.99
- Stainless steel straws – $5.99 (4-pack + cleaning brush)
- Stocked up on reusable water bottles. Thanks to vendor swag from various conferences, a Yeti cup from an end of season coach gift for my hubby, and finally shelling out for one nice Hydroflask tumbler (which my family has dubbed “the million dollar water bottle”), we’re pretty solid here now. Reusable water bottles everywhere, with no plastic ones in sight!
- Stocked up on reusable shopping bags, ensuring we have plenty in both my car and my husband’s. We love the Trader Joes bags, they’re insulated, cheap and hold up well.
- Toilet paper, paper towels and tissue made from bamboo. While recycled paper is certainly better than paper harvested from virgin trees, bamboo TP is actually more eco-friendly and doesn’t contain bisphenol as recycled toilet paper typically has (think about all the ink that’s on the papers we recycle). I’m in love with Who Gives a Crap’s subscription delivery service which is affordable, 100% from bamboo, and donates 50% of profits to building toilets in disadvantaged communities. But starting with recycled toilet paper would be a good first step if bamboo isn’t an option for you.
On the horizon: upgrading our sandwich containers nice steel ones like this cutie, and probably a bigger thermos while we’re at it so I’m more likely to bring food to work instead of grabbing something from the local cafe and all the waste that comes with that choice (at least I’m using my own flatware now though!).
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
We’re not a zero waste household, and are imperfectly riding this sustainability wave – trying to forgive ourselves for slipping up and not judgmental of those around us who haven’t yet had the awakening we have. But we’re trying to be better every day, and continue to make changes to move us in the right direction. And as much as I am inspired by those who are much more deeply committed in making major eco-friendly changes to treat the earth better, just striving to do a little better each day is a reasonable proposition that I encourage everyone to embrace!