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5 Steps to Live More Sustainably Everyday

Green eco friendly reusable bag with groceries
5 Steps To Live More Sustainably Everyday

  1. Embrace the Good Old Rs

The famous “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan was introduced in the 1970s. And while we’re getting better at the recycling part, reducing and reusing is still the best way to avoid generating garbage in the first place. As a general rule, buy only high-quality items that you truly need- and pass on single-use products that cannot be swiftly recycled or composted. If every American, for example, asked for drinks without plastic straws for a single day, we’d keep 500 million out of landfills and oceans. Instead, buy a metal or bamboo straw. Better yet, keep a cloth napkin and set of flatware in your office desk for lunches you eat there (and ask takeout restaurants to leave out cutlery and skip the plastic bag- or curb even more waste by bringing your own lunch in a reusable container). Follow the “reuse” rule in a broader sense, too. Be a mender; sew up holes in socks and sweaters before pitching them. And rather than grabbing paper towels for every task, enlist washable rags: Those soft old T-shirts aren’t suitable to donate but are great at cleaning and dusting.

2. Recycle Religiously

If you do end up with a single-use plastic item, don’t just toss it when you’re done. Try to find a way to reuse it and if you can’t opt to recycle it. Also, choose items that come in glass or aluminum containers, which can have multiple lives- nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today. What about the items that aren’t recycled locally like plastic wrap and styrofoam? Get a collection box from TerraCycle for your home and fill it up with those hard to recycle items. They can recycle almost anything.

3. Consider Composting

It isn’t as hard, smelly, or time consuming as you may think. And you can do it whether you live in the city or the country. But first, be sure what you cook and serve in your home actually gets eaten. In 2014, 36 million tons of food waste ended up in landfills, which gets packed so tightly that organic waste can’t decompose properly; it gets trapped and releases methane. Food scraps, paper, even cotton- anything biodegradable!-can be composted in a small area or container outside, or stored in a freezer or countertop bin and dropped off at a local composter in cities. New York City’s residential and drop-off program, for instance, is the largest in the country.

4. Plan Ahead

Stash a washable tote (or three) in your bag to hold groceries, greenmarket hauls, and other purchases. Use one made from natural fibers, like cotton, so you can compost it when it’s worn out. Skip those wispy plastic produce bags too, there’s nothing wrong with your vegetables getting cozy in your shopping cart. To buy food in bulk, bring Mason jars (with their empty weight written on the lid). Visit your local refill shop or find a local grocery store that stocks bulk spices and rice, and many bakeries sell bread without wrapping.

5. Become a Sustainable Fashionista

Thrift shopping isn’t what it used to be. You can 100% indulge in all of your fashion desires sustainably. I love shopping at local consignment shops and online resale sites like Poshmark, ThredUp, TheRealReal, and eBay. Seriously, once you start you won’t be able to stop because you can find some really cool pieces, items from your favorite brands with the tags still on, and even designer items for way less than you would pay at a store. You can also sell the items in your closet you’re no longer wearing to fund your next purchase. Even simpler, you can arrange clothes swaps with friends, and trade gently worn kids’ stuff, too. If an item is no longer worth selling or donating, all is not lost. “Compost if it is a natural fabric,” she says. Or recycle with a company like For Days, where you can get a credit to shop their upcycled styles once you fill up a take back bag of items to be recycled.


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