5 Easy Ways To Care For Our Planet
Being eco-conscious is all the buzz these days, but the constant focus on being environmentally friendly can feel like a lot of pressure and make doing good feel like a chore. We’ve rounded up five simple yet effective ways that you can do your part for our planet, without it costing an arm and a leg (and your mental health).
Be Intentional About What You Consume
Every sustainability journey begins with cultivating a thoughtful mindset. While our consumerist culture will have us acting on impulse, clicking “checkout” without a second thought, a sustainable approach asks that we take a moment to pause and evaluate our decisions before taking an action.
Before you make a purchase, whether it’s placing an order at a restaurant or buying a new pair of shoes, run yourself through a few simple questions to make sure it's coming from a place of intention and purpose.
DO I NEED THIS ITEM?
Shock: the answer doesn’t have to be “yes”. You can still comfortably purchase something you don’t need, it’s just good to be aware of exactly what role it plays in your life and what is driving your decision.
DO I DESIRE THIS ITEM?
This might seem like a silly one. Surely you wouldn’t even contemplate something you don’t really want? But you’d be surprised how often we grab something just because it’s trendy, it’s on sale, or we saw it on our favorite celeb. But do you actually want the item, regardless of the price and the ever-changing fashion trends? Do you even like the item or are you just on fashion autopilot?
WILL THIS ITEM ADD VALUE TO MY LIFE?
There might be some things that you neither want nor necessarily need, but that will make your life easier or add value in some way. A whiteboard for the kitchen - are you dying for it? Does it *spark joy* as Queen Kondo would say? Probably not. Do you need it? No, you could continue using those sticky notes and posting them on the fridge. But will it save you time, reduce paper waste, and make organizing chores a lot easier? Heck yeah, so you’ve got the green light.
IS THIS THE BEST VERSION OF THIS ITEM FOR ME?
This question could be rephrased as “will this item last?” or “is this item high-quality?”, but we understand that durability and quality can sometimes be outside of people’s budgets (although that’s a common misconception about sustainability - that’s by no means always the case!).
So, take a quick stock of your personal situation and evaluate what your best option is. Think about the material and craftsmanship of an item. Could you go for a version made of high-quality organic materials?
Would one durable pair of workout leggings from Girlfriend, made of recycled bottles, actually be a better investment than three fast-fashion pairs that’ll be tearing at the seams in less than a year?
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to purchase an item, remember that you have options beside the version right in front of you, whether you’re out at a shopping mall or you’ve clicked on an enticing Facebook ad. Try to remember that the quickest and cheapest option might not always be your best option long-term.
When In Need, Think Second-Hand
Sometimes, your best option is lying right in front of your nose, or just a couple blocks away on Facebook Marketplace.
When you need/want to make a purchase, try to get in the habit of making second-hand marketplaces your first point of call. There are so. many. options.
Facebook Marketplace is home to tons of household treasures, from vintage furniture to super high-tech vacuum cleaners at half the price.
Depop/Poshmark is where all the cool kids go to pass on their clothes.
Thrift Stores/Vintage Shops remain trendy as ever. Some curate a specific style while others are a jumble of all-sorts which actually makes it super fun to make a mission of finding those hidden diamonds in the rough.
And don’t forget that social media platforms can be used as search engines. If you’re in the market for a bike, a high-power blender, that limited edition pair of sneakers, post on twitter, Facebook, your IG story, and see if any of your friends or connections have a hook up for you. Circularity is your friend!
Eat Local, Seasonal Produce
When people think of eating sustainably, they usually think about going vegan or at least cutting down their meat consumption. While that’s an awesome step to take, there are also other ways to make your diet more eco-friendly, like opting for more seasonal, local produce.
Don’t think it makes a big difference? Next time you go to the supermarket, take stock of the country of origin of each item in your cart. Where was it grown? How far did it have to travel to get to you? Soon, you’ll realize that you’re taking a trip around the world through the items in your shopping cart. While this is an amazing part of modern day life, it’s also a symbol of how we often prioritize convenience over quality, nutrition, and the wellbeing of our environment. Because let’s be honest, out-of-season produce doesn’t just cost a lot of CO2, but often comes at the expense of flavor and nutritional value too.
Now, that doesn't mean you have to cut out this beautiful array of international flavors entirely. On the contrary, enjoy and truly appreciate all this world has to offer, but try to use these items as supplemental elements of your meal, rather than the most substantial components. Use locally sourced foods to build the main attraction, then add a little pizazz with the products from further afield like a few pomegranate seeds here and there or a couple avocado slices as garnish.
By choosing to build your meals this way, you’re cutting down on a ton of air miles and all the pollution they entail, while supporting your local food system and economy, and encouraging your body to tune into what it seasonally craves. Best of all, you’ll cultivate a newfound creativity when it comes to cooking, and you’ll discover a ton of new dishes and flavor combinations that you hadn’t tried before.
Making the switch isn’t hard either. It just requires a little foresight and some input from the trusty world wide web (or a recipe book, if you remember what those are), and you’ll be well on your way.
PLAN FOR WINTER
While the thought of living on winter produce alone may be frightening to some, for centuries people in colder climates were able to sustain themselves on the fruits of their four seasons, without relying on food being grown and shipped from thousands of miles away. A lot of it comes down to a few simple steps of planning.
Hop onto our dear friend Google to find a seasonal food list. This will be your best friend for switching to seasonal, local eating. If you live in the USA, the Seasonal Food Guide is a fantastic tool you can use to select your State and the time of year you're curious about to find out what’s in season. This isn’t just for winter, either. You can use it during the warmer months too to get an idea of what’ll be available at the farmers markets and what meals you can plan for you and your family.
Aside from anything else, it’s a great educational resource to get yourself in tune with the earth and the life cycles of the produce we so heavily rely on.
BUY IN BULK AND PRACTICE PROPER FOOD STORAGE
Once you’re acquainted with what foods will be at your disposal throughout the year, you can start buying in bulk and prepping food to store for a later date. For example, you can buy loads of basil when it’s in season, and make a blender (or two) full of fresh pesto that you can freeze and dip into down the line.
To make the process as easy as possible, make a list of all the things you’d like to buy in advance to prep for storage, and purchase them within one or two trips to your grocery store or farmers market. That way, you can prep and store them in a couple of hauls and be set for the winter.
And don’t forget to store your produce adequately to avoid the food waste that results from hidden-at-the-back-of-the-fridge syndrome. Keep your fridge organized so you can see everything you’ve bought, and brush up on your knowledge of storage best practices. A lot of foods including apples, cabbages, onions, squash, and other root veggies, can be stored for months on end as long as you keep them somewhere cool and dark.
Yes, although you’ll need to stay relatively informed to keep abreast of the political happenings in your country, voting is something you do once in a blue moon that has a huge impact for a long-time to come.
Even if you don’t stay on top of the news year-round, when voting season arrives, set aside an hour to research the candidates/parties and their environmental policies. Once again, Google is your best friend here. While we all know we can’t trust everything we read on the internet, there are some pretty reliable, fact-checked resources with tips on How to Vote For The Environment, as well as Climate Change Voter’s Guides that offer ‘Climate Scores’ to each candidate.
With all these tools on hand, brushing up on your political knowledge doesn’t have to be a chore, and it’ll pay off big time when you exercise your right to vote and can find peace of mind knowing you’re backing the people who will make this world a better place for future generations.
Pave The Way
One of the easiest ways to do your part for the planet is to be a resource to others looking to do the same. You don’t have to be the preachy friend. The best way to have a ripple effect is to set an example and simply encourage people's curiosity!
Whether it’s through the ways outlined above or other things, you’ll probably notice people getting curious about your eco-choices. Understanding the information behind your own decisions enables you to share it with others when they enquire, so try to make your decisions from an informed, educated place.
Learn as much as you can about why sustainable best practices are important, and why the alternatives are not the way to go. That way, when people turn to you for inspiration or guidance, you can offer them valuable insight into becoming a part of a more sustainable world.
Have you already implemented any of these tips into your life? Which ones are you looking forward to giving a go? Let us know in the comments below!