Sustainable Living

Sustainable living can, in my opinion*, be divided into a few categories; Shopping & Fashion, Eating & Foods and Habits. Although my tips below may be common sense to some (hopefully most!), to others, new to wanting to live better, hopefully this is helpful and enlightening information! It never hurts to be reminded either :) That’s why I made this page.

Sustainable Shopping & Fashion:

When it comes to shopping, there are a few easy rules to live by in order to do what you can for the planet. Here are my top tips:

  1. Buy only what you NEED, not what you WANT. Be honest with yourself when you it comes to what you really need. New work-out sneakers may be a need, while more holiday decorations are NOT.
  2. Buy good quality items. They will last much longer, and help reduce your environmental footprint over time. A bit of investigating before you make a decision never hurts.
  3. Check tags and try to shop locally made. The shorter something ships, the better, and by doing so you are supporting your local economy, and you are educating yourself about where many items you buy are made. Awareness is great.
  4. Buy previously owned, or swap with your friends. Thrifting can be intimidating, online re-sale shops may be a good place to start, a way to ease into it and get comfortable with having things which have already been used.
  5. When you shop online try to buy many items from the same place at the same time to reduce shipping and trucking of your items. If you know you are coming back for more anyway, lump it together. Order together with friends and have it shipped to one address if you are a frequent online shopper.

Learn more about Sustainable Fashion:

True Cost Movie & Sweatshop – Dead Cheap Fashion Miniseries & LINK to Sustainable Shopping Websites

Sustainable Eating & Foods:

Eating is a big part of our lives, and what we choose to eat affects the planet greatly. Here are my top tips:

  1. REDUCE your meat consumption, especially beef. The very best thing you can do for the planet is to build your diet around plants, grains and vegetables. Meat, fish and dairy (yes dairy too!) are luxury items you should enjoy scarcely. (This saves you money too) Raising livestock causes deforestation, methane emissions, CO2 emissions and drought.
  2. Check tags and try to shop locally made. The shorter something ships, the better. If fruit has been imported from far away, across the ocean, it means that that fruit is not in season where you live. But great news, some other fruit is! Go with what’s in season, and can be grown/harvested/made close to where you live.
  3. Avoid any products with palm oil. Palm oil is grown in areas where rainforest used to thrive. It’s one of the most devastating products in terms of deforestation. Peanut butter, Nutella, processed foods, jams, candy, chips, in other words all sorts of products may contain it so watch out – another great reason to read the labels!
  4. Look for the fair-trade label on chocolate, coffee, tea, rice and other imports to ensure fair wages and ethical treatment of cultures and lands.
  5. Choose organic if available (if not imported). It IS better for the soil and workers.
  6. Don’t buy water at the store, if the water in your home is safe. Filter it, bottle it in reusable bottles. Be smart. Save the planet and save lots of money.
  7. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging.

Learn more about Sustainable Eating in these documentaries:

Cowspiracy Movie & Forks over Knives & Bottled Life

Sustainable Habits:

There are easy changes to make to help the planet a little bit extra. Here are my top tips:

  1. Change your electricity provider to one that only invests in and sells 100% green energy, like wind power and/or solar. Or install solar panels on your roof.
  2. Be mindful about your electricity use. Hanging clothes to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer is a great and easy savings tip. When you are away from home, don’t blast the A/C or heater.
  3. Avoid plastic. Plastic is made from fossil fuels. Opt for paper, carton or metal, whenever possible. These materials are easier to recycle. Always recycle them!
  4. Take your own to-go cup and shopping bags with you every day. If you are in your car anyway, what’s the problem bringing them? There’s no need for fancy stuff, as long they’re reusable.
  5. At home, use reusable containers for leftovers, lunches, veggies and meals, instead of using a one-time Ziploc or other bag. (Recycling a Ziploc takes effort, people and trucking = energy). Use fabric cloths instead of paper towels.
  6. Be mindful about your waste. For example, plastic produce bags: are you going to eat the peel of your melon, kiwi, banana or onions? No? Then why do you need to protect them with a bag? Do you need a straw to drink that water? No? Then why did you ask for one?
  7. Don’t leave water running for no reason. While you’re brushing your teeth or washing dishes, turn it off and turn on again when you need to rinse.
  8. Drive an electric car. I have to say it, though I wouldn’t call it an easy tip. In the current car market it is not easy to buy a new, good car in that category. But when it’s time for something new, consider it! Combined with solar panels or a green electricity provider, you’re on your way to major CO2 savings.

Decoding the Rule of Sustainability:

Reduce: SAVES energy and REDUCES emissions, pollution and waste. Heroism.

Re-use: Status Quo when it comes to saving the planet. You’re helping by not wasting more resources! Awesome.

Recycle: Costs money, USES energy and resources. This is your last resort. Band-Aid.

Off-set your Carbon Footprint:

A great idea to help out is to use a Carbon Footprint Calculator to see approximately how much CO2 your household produces. Try a google search or use this LINK. When you know your number, offset the same amounts by purchasing carbon credits! One way to do that is by investing in planting trees at, for example, Stand For Trees dot org. Here’s a LINK to get planting!

*Blogging is subjective. I believe 100% in living by the tips on this page in order to live greener and help save the planet. Don’t waste your time providing me some scientific research that “proves” that the above is not valid, please. If you have great tips for sustainability and eco-awareness, of course, leave me a comment!!

3 thoughts on “Sustainable Living

  1. Hi Anna….a while back I read excerpts from a book I found insightful on being eco impactful took a more in depth analysis of what seems to be the obvious choices. An example given was the issue of cloth vs disposable diapers being sensitive to local conditions. Disposable being more eco friendly in an area where water was more scarce and landfills having less negative impact. This always comes to mind while using water to rinse off my recyclables. Just read a 600 page book on water’s impact on civilizations historically and how it will be more critical for the long term since there are no alternatives to water as there are to fossil fuels.

    Didn’t note the name of the book and couldn’t find it with the bits of info I had. Any suggestions on reads that gives us more insight on the how to evaluate the net effect of our eco driven decisions. My gut feels is ethanol is only a feel good choice since one doesn’t consider all the fuel and transportation costs off growing corn and getting the final product to market. Even Brazil which is the most productive for use of ethanol creates air pollution burning off sugar cane fields.

    Keep up the good work making the impact of our decisions top of mind.

    Like

    1. Great questions.

      Personally I don’t believe that disposable items are ever more eco-friendly than reusable ones. Yes, it takes water to wash but the water used by residents in America is a fraction compared to what is used by industry and agriculture. (An example being that producing 1 lb of beef uses as much water as 25 full bathtubs). We will never know for sure the amounts of water used by the fossil fuel industry, simply because they’ll never disclose it. Fracking and refining takes enormous amounts of fresh water and what about the groundwater effected by pipeline leaks (occurs several times a month!). Just like we use reusable underwear, towels and pajamas, we should use reusable diapers.

      Disposable diapers are made of petroleum products and never bio-degrades in landfill. There are no areas where landfill has little impact. Trash in landfill is responsible for about 20% of methane emissions in the USA, a greenhouse gas 100 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon. Reducing landfill is key to limiting climate change. As for diapers, a kid will use about 3000 disposables a year vs. maybe 30-40 washable ones; made of mostly hemp or cotton, safer for baby’s bum leading to less rash, less creams used, less jars. A bonus with cloth is supporting the small businesses that sew the diapers here in USA too! Big brand disposable diapers are made by ginormous unethical corporations.

      Don’t over wash the recyclables, I agree water should not be wasted on that. Glass jars and metal cans are normally very easy to rinse, again plastic is what takes “washing” and plastic cannot be recycled. Plastic is always down-cycled, meaning it becomes a lower grade product each time it’s “recycled”, until unusable. The key is to try to never bring plastic into a home in the first place. A water bottle thrown in the recycling bin is NOT an eco-friendly measure.

      Personally I have great hopes for water supply in the far future. We can turn saltwater into fresh water it just takes so much energy it’s never been realistic. But as energy is obtained from the sun with giant solar fields instead of from fossil fuel, we can definitely do it. Salt being a byproduct we can also use with benefits, as mining for salt is not eco-friendly either. (Imagine with all the pipelines we already have, how efficiently we can transport that water around the country when lines are not needed for oil!)

      It’s important for us to invest in and investigate bio-fuels. They will be needed in a transition to electric power in planes, ships etc. Byproducts from other production and algae are probably the best ones to look into. I agree growing a crop for ethanol is not ultimate and would never have happened without the government incentives pumped into the corn industry. Still, ethanol does keep the engines cleaner, burns cleaner and has no leakage problems in nature as oil does. The byproduct of ethanol is livestock feed, so at least it all gets used. Once we’ve stopped this crazy addiction to beef, the corn ethanol becomes even less eco-friendly than now, and should be phased out.

      Spread the word! Thanks for posting that comment.

      Like

Something to say? Please leave me a comment :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s