I feel like the word “conservation” is intimidating to a lot of people. That there’s this idea that in order to start conserving and being more environmentally conscientious you have to take this gigantic leap and turn your life upside down. Like showering less, or not using soap that suds up, and converting your combustion engine to run off old french fry oil…You don’t. Here’s the thing, everything you do to help does help and just because you can’t do it all at once shouldn’t dissuade you from doing anything at all.
I’m going to share with you all the small changes that I’ve made that make a difference and are super easy & affordable –
- ALWAYS BRING YOUR REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE OR COFFEE CUP: This is probably the easiest way you can start to conserve on a daily basis. We are so used to the disposable society that we live in that it’s easy to forget how much waste we actually create on a daily basis with our beverages alone. Think stopping to get a bottle of water while you’re filling up at the gas station, your Starbucks coffee in the morning, an iced tea later in the day…These things add up especially when you think of the volume at which they’re being consumed on a daily basis around the world. As an added plus you’re going to be saving money. Bottled water is expensive (and gross) and most coffee shops give you a discount for bringing your own cup.
- LEARN TO RECYCLE PROPERLY: It is truly baffling to me that there is not more education and support when it comes to this because the rules on what can and cannot be recycled change from state to state and city to city. So, wherever you live make sure to do a quick google search on the rules and restrictions in your area. Click here for a city to city guide. Oh, and a very big JSYK: All this new bio plastic that is “biodegradable” sucks…You cannot put it in the recycling and it needs to be disposed into an industrial compost in order to biodegrade. It’s honestly more environmentally friendly to use recyclable plastic and make sure it’s disposed of properly…
- INVEST IN REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS FOR THE MARKET: I get it, you don’t want your fruit and veggies to touch the disgusting, disease ridden cart or basket at the grocery store, neither do I. However using a billion plastic bags for your produce is not necessary. There are many many options for alternative bags. Bringing your reusable tote to the market is great but it kind of defeats the purpose if you’re going to fill it with plastic bags anyway.
- INVEST IN REUSABLE ZIPLOCKS AND FOOD WRAPS: I get it, I love ziplocks too but they’re bad for the planet. Luckily there are options like Stasher bags, which are reusable silicon ziplocks. They come in a million colors and sizes and you can wash them and use them over and over again. They are not cheap BUT over time they will pay for themselves so they’re worth the initial investment. Another must have item is a reusable food wrap. There are many options on Amazon, I prefer Bee’s wrap. I want to point out that I still occasionally use a ziplock and non reusable food wraps. I am not perfect and when I have something like an onion or something where I feel like the odor will destroy the reusable product I opt for the plastic. I say this because I want you to know that I am NOT claiming to be perfect and that just because sometimes I still use the junk it doesn’t negate the effort I’m putting in the other 98% of the time.
- CUT DOWN ON MEAT & DAIRY: Listen to me, NO ONE LOVES A CHEESEBURGER MORE THAN I LOVE A CHEESEBURGER. I get it. I’m not asking you to stop eating meat and dairy, I am suggesting you cut down on it…I have it probably 1 time per week now, sometimes more sometimes less. Imagine, for the sake of this argument, that you have meat 5 times per week. If you give up one of those meals you’re cutting your consumption down by 20%. Now imagine if a lot of people did this…you see where I’m going with this? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing to make a dent.
- SHOP LOCALLY WHENEVER POSSIBLE: Who doesn’t love a farmers market? It’s cute, you get free samples and I know some of you out there are creating some cute social media content there…Something else to love is that the foods you’re getting there are not traveling far distances to get to you, which means that all the GHG (green house gas) causing transportation that’s usually required when we get our produce from a market isn’t necessary here. As an added plus most of the food is organic, not packaged in plastic AND you’re supporting your local agricultural economy!
- WALK OR CARPOOL WHENEVER YOU CAN: I live in LA and people in LA don’t walk. It’s actually kind of crazy to me the lengths people will go to not walk a few blocks in this city. I, on the other hand LOVE to walk and try to walk to my destination whenever possible. Not only is this better for the environment but it’s also so much healthier for you and your body. Our bodies crave activity, we are not meant to be sedentary creatures and we also need the sun. The sun gives us vitamin D and helps us with our brain happy juice (that’s the technical term). As for carpooling; if your buddy lives close by pick them up or vice versa. It’s worth going a few minutes out of your way to have a companion in the car (especially in city traffic) AND you’re getting 1 extra car off the road. Win win.
- TRY TO ELIMINATE “FAST FASHION” AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE: This one is tough because the fashion industry is a MAJOR contributor of pollution and GHG’s. It’s not realistic to ask everyone to make sure they’re sourcing their clothing from carbon neutral companies (even tho they do exist), it’s expensive and very limited. However, whenever possible try to avoid places like Forever 21 (a great example of fast fashion) and other gigantic, quick turn around clothing companies. Vintage is a great option for anyone on a budget. It is the most sustainable option and it’s generally a great deal cheaper than buying new.
- WHEN YOU ORDER IN FOOD ASK FOR NO UTENSILS: This is a huge pet peeve of mine. You order Thai food because you don’t want to cook and open the bag to find 7 million of the shittiest plastic forks and spoons that have ever existed. When I order in now I always tell them we don’t need utensils. I know this might not sound like a big deal but think about the amount of people on a daily basis who are ordering food…It adds up to a considerable amount.
- TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM & TURN OFF THE HEAT/AC WHEN YOU’RE NOT HOME: Do I really need to say anything other than DUH?
Hopefully this has helped you to see that there are options for lifestyle changes you can make that really aren’t expensive or intrusive. While it might be best to trade your car in for an electric or stop air travel its just not realistic to ask of everyone but that doesn’t mean you’re helpless in this fight. I write this because I want whoever reads this to feel empowered and positive about the change they are PERSONALLY capable of making. No matter what, every single one of us has the potential to make a difference and inspire the people in their lives to make a difference as well.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.