A new year often brings inspiration to form ambitious resolutions for a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life. The commitment to move towards a sustainable lifestyle can touch on all of these themes, but it can be quite a daunting task.
As with any other goal, though, breaking this resolution down into specific, attainable, actions is the best bet for success. That’s why this year I’m making 12 simple action-oriented steps that I can feasibly achieve (and that you can too!). Here are some ideas that I’ll be implementing or will be continuing for a more green 2018.
1. Quit Fast Fashion
Make a commitment to quit fast fashion for good, or choose to go on a complete break from shopping for a set amount of time. I went on a clothing “fast” for a few months last year, and not only did it help me save money, but the time I saved by not shopping freed up more hours for other leisure activities, like reading or coffee dates with friends.
2. Buy Consciously
When you truly need something, shop second-hand or from responsible brands. For some ideas, take a peak at my Ethical Brand Guide.
3. Wear More
Participate in the “30 wears campaign” and challenge yourself to wear a particular high-quality garment 30, 40, or even 50 times. A huge part, if not the most important part, of shopping sustainably is simply buying fewer things that last longer.
4. Reduce Consumption of Animal Products
For meat-eaters, a good starting place to lessen your environmental impact is to participate in “Meatless Mondays” or to take it a step further, make a commitment to not eat meat on weekdays.
I’ve been a vegetarian for a few years now, and always look for organic, pasture-raised when buying dairy. In 2018, though, I’d like to take it a step further and significantly reduce animal products from my diet by trying “Vegan Tuesdays” (and eventually vegan weekdays!).
5. Buy in Bulk
Skip the pre-packaged products at the grocery store and head to the bulk bin section for zero-waste shopping. I used Litterless to find bulk shops near me, and Zero Waste Home also has an app to find bulk stores located near you.
6. Drive Less
Location and lifestyle are big factors here, but if you can find a few trips to take an alternative mode of transportation such as public transit, carpooling, biking, or even better- walking, this can be a significant way to reduce your impact. (You can calculate your driving emissions here.)
Living in a concentrated urban area, I’m lucky to have easy access to public transportation and the ability to walk to work, but will make a concerted effort to use ride-sharing apps less.
7. Fly Less
I’m also going to be more conscious of long-distance traveling this year, and look for alternatives to planes whenever possible (the aviation industry contributes 2% of global emissions each year). Trains are great options for cross-continental travel and buses can be an affordable choice for shorter distances.
When there’s no transportation alternative to a flight, there are a few options to offset carbon emissions, such as CarbonFund.org and Terrapass. You can also reduce your impact by booking a flight with a more fuel-efficient airline.
8. Search Local First
While it can be easy to hop online and order what you need in a few clicks, making the extra effort to stop by your neighborhood shop will help your local economy and is a fantastic opportunity to meet people in the community.
9. BYOC: Bring Your Own Cup
If you’re buying your cup of joe at a coffee shop in the morning, make sure to bring a re-usable cup. I made the switch as soon as I discovered how the impact adds up of those daily paper cups. An individual who uses one disposable coffee cup each day for a year contributes 23 pounds of waste… yikes!
As an extra bonus, Starbucks takes 10 cents off when you bring your own cup (in my opinion, they should do much more to advertise this to encourage people to bring in their cups, but I suppose it’s a start.)
10. Pack Lunch and Snacks
This one is good for the earth and the wallet. Just be sure to set aside 10 minutes or so at night or in the morning to keep up with this new habit. If you know you like to hit the snooze button for a half hour in the AM like me… nights will probably work better!
11. Switch to Clean Beauty
Clean beauty is something I’ve dipped my toes into (I don’t buy beauty products too often), but this year I’m planning on taking a deeper dive into natural, toxic-free, cruelty-free beauty. The Good Guide and EWG’s database are great resources to discover green brands.
12. Use Natural Home Cleaning Products
EWG is also a great resource for safe, natural home-cleaning goods. I’ve definitely noticed the benefits of making the switch to natural cleaning products, and this year I’d like to explore DIY options!