We’ll be the first to admit it- the word “sustainability” can be really intimidating. For some reason it feels like you have to be the most environmentally-friendly person on the whole planet or just not bother at all. Like, either be Greta Thunberg or what’s the point? The reality is, only Greta can be like Greta. The rest of us are in the middle, just trying to figure it out and do what we can to help the Earth and Mother Nature. And that’s good enough.
It’s a cliché to talk about sustainability on Earth Day, especially when climate change is real every day, and sustainability practices continue to become increasingly important. However, Earth Day does provide an awesome reminder of the things we’ve accomplished in the last year, and the things we still have to work on. No matter where you are in your sustainability journey, there’s always a small next step we can be taking. So below, we looked to sustainability expert Lauren Singer, her blog Trash Is For Tossers, and her company Package Free Shop, for some easy ways to reduce our waste, get a little closer to being like Greta, and make Mother Nature one happy lady.
Warm weather is approaching and there is nothing more enjoyable than an iced coffee in the summer (or is that just us?). To cut down on your waste on your daily coffee trip (or twice daily, if we’re being honest), bring along your own reusable mason jar or thermos!!
Not only that, but iced coffee always tastes better sipped through a straw. But plastic straws are one of the most common forms of plastic pollution in the ocean. Bring along a reusable option like these fun multi-colored stainless steel straws!
New York has finally banned plastic bags, but not everywhere is on the same page, which is why we need to make it a habit of bringing reusable bags everywhere. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve last-minute decided to go to the grocery store and showed up without a grocery bag… and I kick myself every time. If your mom does the grocery shopping, convince her to throw a bunch of reusable bags in the car so you guys always have them on hand. Or if you often grab groceries straight after class, always keep a few in your bag so you can whip them out when you need them.
This one should be easy. We’re always telling you to drink water (reminder: drink some now!) but when you’re sipping water all day, you might also be creating a lot of plastic water bottle waste. Instead, just keep a cute reusable water bottle on hand, and fill up whenever and wherever you can!
Your wallet, and the Earth, will thank you for this one! The US alone throws away 25 billion pounds of clothing every. single. year. While fast-fashion items might be appealing because you can get so much for so little money (we’re looking at you H&M, Forever21, and Zara!) they’re often made poorly so you have to throw them out once they fall apart.
The truth is that we just don’t need that much clothing. Who cares if you outfit repeat? Let’s get more creative with the way we style the pieces we do have! Shop a little less, and when you do shop, consider shopping secondhand (like on Depop!) or with brands who are transparent about their sustainable practices (like Everlane and many more!).
If every American used just one less paper towel per day, we would divert 571,230,000 pounds of paper waste each year. Just think about that for a second. It’s so natural for us to just grab a paper towel when we need to wipe a spill or quickly dry our hands, but let’s make an effort to reach for a reusable kitchen towel instead!
Composting is the superstar of reducing your waste. Compost is the practice of collecting biodegradable stuff — like food scraps and food waste —- and letting it all quickly rot so it can turn back into a healthy, nutrient-dense soil. When we send these things to landfills in the garbage, they rot slowly and release harmful greenhouse gases like methane (which significantly contributes to climate change)! Did you know that about 50% of all produce in the US is thrown away? That’s a lot of produce in your local landfill, and a lot of methane gas. Want to learn more about composting? Read more from sustainability expert Lauren Singer here.
If you live in a suburban area with municipal composting, you can just collect your compost in a box and the city will come around and collect it with the rest of your garbage! If not, try these ideas to get you started with composting! In general, chat with your family about how you can all work together to compost — your parents might have some more knowledge about the services your city offers 🙂
Do you want to find more ways that you can reduce waste? Check out Package Free Shop for easy, fun and creative ways to reduce your waste!
If you’re feeling a little intimidated and not sure where to start, read this super easy beginners guide to sustainability and reducing your waste. Reminder: It doesn’t happen overnight!