It’s Earth Day! In my opinion, it’s one of the most important days of the year. As we go about our busy everyday lives, sometimes we forget just how fragile our beautiful planet really is. Earth Day is a great reminder of the importance of recycling, using resources wisely, and buying well-made items designed for longevity.
We need to eat often, so it goes without saying that the food industry causes a lot of waste, both in the food choices we make and the packaging food comes in. A few ways to decrease your carbon footprint in the kitchen:
1. Eat vegetarian meals a few times each week. If you need some recipe inspo, Bon Appétit has a nice article with 35 weeknight vegetarian recipes to try for Meatless Monday’s.
2. Buy food in bulk when possible. A few easy items to find in bulk are dry goods such as beans, oatmeal, nuts, and pasta.
3. Compost leftover food scraps. (New to composting? Me too. Check out a great article by Martha Stewart called “Composting 101.”)
4. Choose food packaged in glass over food packaged in plastic. Glass can be recycled over and over again, and unlike plastic, glass doesn’t leach chemical residues into your food.
5. Recycle used food containers properly. For a helpful guide on recycling from the EPA, click here.
6. Bring reusable produce bags to the grocery store, instead of using the plastic ones provided. My favorite reusable bags are the Earth Junky brand. Check them out on Amazon and on Instagram @earthjunky.
7. Pack lunches from home. Not only will you save money, you can save on plastic or styrofoam packaging if you bring your own lunch. Click here for my recent article about my favorite eco-friendly lunchbox products.
8. Choose real silverware over plastic silverware. Bamboo is a also great option if you are looking for something disposable. Click here to check out Bamboodlers bamboo silverware (perfect for parties or camping).
9. Eat all the food on your plate. The amount of food wasted in America is staggeringly high: some estimates are as high as 40%. When you eat all the food on your plate, you’re working against this alarming statistic. I recently wrote a post about how you can waste less food, check it out!
10. Buy organic and/or local. Organic farming helps the environment because the farmers use sustainable farming practices and no harmful pesticides. It’s important to note that many local family farmers also use natural pest prevention, but they may not always carry the USDA Organic certification due to the expensive cost to become certified.
Traveling is wonderful, but it can also be hard on the planet. A few ways to travel green:
1. Walk or bike to get around, if you can. Biking and walking are great ways to explore a new city (or even rediscover your own city).
2. If you can’t walk there, choose public transportation when possible. Ride sharing and public transportation, such as busses and trains, are more efficient than renting an individual car.
3. If you have to fly, try a carbon offset program. Here’s a great article from Native Energy about carbon offset programs and how they work.
4. Stay in a sustainable hotel. Check out this article by The Active Times that lists the best eco-friendly hotels in the USA.
5. Bring your own toiletries instead of using the little hotel ones. Although they are cute, those little shampoo bottles are often only used once or twice before ending up in the landfill.
6. Don’t forget your reusable bottle! These can be taken through airport security if they are empty. Once you’re through security, you can fill them at a water fountain.
7. Pack light. To lessen the weight of the airplane, only pack what you really need. Try to pack neutral-colored items that can be mixed and matched throughout your trip. Here are some good tips from Indiana Jo about packing light.
8. Travel locally. To lesson the impact of transportation, try to explore local destinations. You may be surprised at the cool things you find in your own backyard!
9. Avoid daily laundry service when staying in a hotel. Although it’s a nice luxury, daily clean sheets and fresh towels are often unnecessary. Use the “do not disturb” door tag and ask housekeeping to only stop by once every few days.
10. Eat local food. When you arrive at your destination, try to eat locally to ensure food doesn’t have to travel far to reach your plate. Embracing the flavors of the region will also help you learn more about the place you’re visiting.
Everyone needs clothing to wear, but we can all make better clothing choices to ensure our clothes last longer and provide years of wear.
1. Buy high-quality items that are designed to last years, not months. These are often more expensive than fast fashion pieces, but remember quality is more important than quantity.
2. Follow the care instructions tag carefully. If the tag says do not put garment in the dryer, heed that advice to avoid ripping, shrinking, and discoloration. Here’s a great article from the New York Times about how to better care for your clothes.
3. Choose cotton pieces whenever you can, because cotton does not shed micro fibers that end up in oceans and other waterways.
4. Use a dryer ball instead of a dryer sheet. Here are 3 dryer ball brands to try!
5. Invest in classic pieces that do not go out of style quickly.
6. Repair items instead of replacing. Holes, missing buttons, and zipper problems can all be repaired.
7. Wash clothing in cold water. Hot water doesn’t have really any benefit to the clothing, but it is much harder on the environment.
8. Try shopping at thrift stores. You’re sure to find very unique pieces and the prices are much lower than regular retail.
9. Buy from eco-friendly brands. There are many wonderful brands out there selling consciously created goods. Natalie from Sustainably Chic is a wonderful resource for eco-friendly clothes and accessories.
10. Donate gently used clothing to people in need. If you need to clean out your closet, donate unwanted items to your local thrift store or Goodwill, instead of throwing them away.
Bathrooms are full of single-use products that often generate a lot of waste. A few ways to Green your bathroom routine:
1. Try a soap or shampoo bar instead of a bottle.
2. When possible, choose personal care products that are free from harsh chemicals. To see how your personal care products rate for safety in ingredients, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
3. Take a shorter shower. Here are some eye-opening statistics about showering and water waste from Boston University.
4. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth.
5. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush. I also recently discovered Bite Charcoal Toothpaste Bits which look really cool – I can’t wait to try them!
6. Try an eco friendly toilet paper brand like Who Gives a Crap.
7. Switch to a menstrual cup instead of using pads and tampons. Women’s Health magazine recently rounded up the 9 best cups available on Amazon, check it out!
8. Try drain clearing tools instead of using liquid drain cleaners that harm wild animals and pollute waterways. I recently discovered the Drain Weasel drain cleaning tool and it is life changing (seriously!) and requires no harsh chemicals.
9. Use a reusable hand towel instead of disposable towels.
10. Use natural bathroom cleaners. Wellness Mama has some great ideas on her website!
Happy Earth Day everyone!