So-called “green living” can admittedly feel overwhelming at times. But with Earth Day upon us—and a planet that’s not getting any younger—now feels like the perfect time to adopt more eco-friendly habits. Read on for a few of our favorite easy ways to care for the environment in your everyday life.
Shop Your Values
Much to our chagrin, the fashion industry isn’t the most eco-friendly entity around. The best way to decrease the steep environmental cost of fast fashion is to simply shop less. However, you can also consider shopping secondhand and buying from brands making a conscientious effort to reduce their environmental footprint. Of course, “shopping” isn’t limited to fashion. We love the idea of making a more general rule to only purchase items you can re-use. For instance, buy a few reusable water bottles (keep the extras in your car or desk so you don’t end up without one) rather than their disposable plastic alternative, or stock up on microfiber towels instead of replenishing your paper towel stash.
Have More Plant-Based Meals
No, you don’t have to go full vegetarian. But committing to eating meatless just one day a week can have an effect on your personal carbon footprint. In fact, according to one study, it’s one of the most impactful ways a single individual can help protect the environment. You can also rethink what kind of meat you’re eating. For example, eating chicken or turkey has a lower environmental cost than eating beef or lamb. (That’s according to the Environmental Worker’s Group Meat Eater’s Guide, which is an excellent resource for anyone looking to make more their daily life a bit more green.) It’s also ideal to eat meat and dairy products from organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed animals.
Use Less Water
This is one of those situations in which small changes really do add up when it comes to caring for the environment. Doing the things we all know we’re supposed to do but sometimes forget—turning the water off when you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers—is certainly a start. You can also invest in an energy-efficient showerhead and try bathing less often. (Daily washing can compromise your hair health, anyway. Check out some of our dry styling must-haves here!)
Yes, really! When you plan your meals carefully, you don’t just eat healthier and save money. You also help cut back on food waste—and food waste is an issue that is not to be ignored. According to the EPA, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated in 2011 that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is lost or wasted. On one hand, this is troublesome because of the considerable resources it takes to create that food in the first place. (Not to mention the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who do not have enough to eat.) But the problem doesn’t end there. Composted food decomposes naturally, ultimately returning nutrients to the soil and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Food in landfills, however, rots and produces harmful methane gas.
Don’t Replace, Repair
When something breaks—whether it’s your car, your iPhone, or a favorite pair of sandals—it’s tempting to swap it out for a newer, shinier version. However, the environmental resources that go into creating a new item are far greater than the resources required to repair an existing one. Find a good tailor and cobbler to help keep your clothes and shoes in the best possible shape, and get a second opinion before replacing appliances, computers and other expensive machinery. Bonus: Those clothing repair experts also come in handy for your secondhand shopping scores. Strategic nips and tucks are often the keys to taking vintage pieces to the next level.