Happy Earth Day!
I wasn’t planning to write this post today, but I was inspired by everyone sharing their sustainability efforts in honor of Earth Day. I figured I would jump on the bandwagon and share a few things that we have changed or started in the last couple of years with the intention of being more kind to our beautiful planet.
I am nowhere near perfect, and there are so many systems I would like to implement into our lives, but I’m trying. I am doing my best. These things don’t happen overnight, so I am making small changes as I feel motivated. The world of sustainability and zero waste can be so overwhelming and seem unattainable. I love the quote, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
So that is what we are doing. We are imperfect, but we’re making changes. I challenge you to do the same. So without further ado, here are the changes we have slowly been making over the last year or two.
We stopped buying things we don’t need
This may seem obvious, but I was as guilty as the next girl of walking through Target and buying whatever caught my eye that day…especially in the cute under $5 section! But almost everything I’ve ever purchased at Target that wasn’t on my list has been something I didn’t need and barely used.
I’ve learned to control myself more and instead of buying books, I rent from the library. Instead of wandering aimlessly through every beautiful aisle, I go in with a purpose and avoid sections of the store where I am prone to splurge on unnecessary items.
When I learned to control myself, I saved money and stopped buying into the consumerist cycle many of us are stuck in. I have learned to be happy with less and to love the things that I already own.
We got ourselves some reusable straws
Plastic straws are the worst. In the USA alone, 500 million straws are used every day. That’s enough to circle the earth two and a half times!! Not to mention the effects they have on animals and marine life. Plastic straws are not recyclable, you use them once and they can pollute the ocean or end up in a landfill. Many places have already banned plastic straws and more will follow suit. So get ahead of the game and buy a couple of reusable straws. It’s not that hard to carry them with you!
We ditched plastic wrap
I used to think of plastic wrap as a kitchen essential. How else would I cover leftovers or transport a dish of delicious food to a dinner party? But I finally quit using it and found that it is absolutely not necessary! I have plenty of bakeware that came with lids and I use those ones if I need to transport food elsewhere. At home, I have started using reusable beeswax wraps and I’m loving them so far!
We started composting & gardening
Last year, I started composting in my back yard. The previous homeowners had started a pile and we just picked up where they left off. We also planted a garden using the compost and it was so amazing. We grew the best tomatoes I have ever eaten and some delicious lettuce, herbs, and peppers. It was really pretty easy too. It just takes a little bit of effort to get started.
We started recycling correctly
I realized after doing some research that we had been recycling a couple of things we shouldn’t have been. I encourage everyone to look up their local recycling website and make sure you are doing everything the right way. A small recycling mistake can contaminate a large number of recyclables, which then end up getting thrown away. So do a little homework and make sure you are doing everything the right way. It only took me 10 minutes.
We started bringing our own shopping bags
As a long time Aldi grocery shopper, we have been bringing our own shopping bags for ages. Though, for some reason, when we shopped at Target or any other grocery store we never remembered to bring our own bags. Seems so silly to me, but I would always get in the store and remember too late. So the plastic shopping bags kept coming home with us.
A couple of years ago I finally made a commitment to remember my bags. It took some training and quite a few times I had to run back to my car when I was almost to the door, but it is just second nature to me now. If you do forget your bags, opt for paper and recycle or compost them instead of getting plastic.
We implemented the 48 hours rule
If we see something we want, we wait 48 hours before purchasing it. I think at least half of the time I forget about the item completely so I obviously really didn’t need it! My husband is a minimalist and I am a free spirit. He helps ground me and when we implemented this rule, I realized I truly have way more than I need. We have started to value experiences and travel over things and it is a much more enjoyable way to live!
I discovered Norwex
Norwex has some amazing microfiber cloths and cleaning supplies that you should definitely check out. I recently purchased envirocloths to help me use way fewer paper towels, and their face cloths for makeup removal so that I don’t use so many disposable makeup remover towelettes and cotton balls. I also bought their wool dryer balls which eliminates the need to buy dryer sheets! I am sure there are more brands like Norwex, but this is the first one I found.
We started eating at home more often
Not only is it healthier to prepare your own food, but it is usually a lot less expensive too. When you’re picking out your food, you can opt for more sustainably packed items too. We don’t use produce bags anymore either. I honestly don’t even know why I didn’t start doing that sooner! I would eventually like to invest in some good reusable produce bags soon though for times when I need to buy a larger amount of veggies.
I became a proud outfit repeater
Recently, Jayde, a blogger, and Instagrammer that I love shared an initiative to get people using the hashtag, #ProudOutfitRepeater. I love this because there is this weird amount of pressure not to be an outfit repeater. Especially on Instagram, I would find myself thinking, “Well, I can’t post this photo because I already wore this outfit in another picture.” Um, no! That’s just dumb. We have outfits we love and we should re-wear them!
Let’s stop buying into fast fashion and only wearing things 2 or 3 times before getting rid of them! We need to do and be better. One way of doing this is buying quality over quantity and not buying something just because it’s “on sale.”
I’ve also gone to a couple of clothing swaps where people bring items from their closet that are lightly used and you get to swap for “new” clothes. It is super fun, feels like going shopping, and is a great transition into buying more used clothing before buying new.
I am not saying that I will never buy anything new ever again, but I do want to make more of an effort to find things used first.
We bring our own water bottles, coffee cups
Again, this one is obvious, but it is worth saying. If you just need somewhere to start, this is probably one of the easiest options. Carrying a water bottle will save you money and you’ll use less single-use plastic too.
Things I want to implement
As I mentioned before, I am still in the process of making changes. I mess up and forget to say I don’t want a straw. That’s okay. But the point is we should all be trying to make small changes when we can. We need to stop being so intimidated by people who look like they’re doing it perfectly and just start somewhere. So I challenge you to start today. After all, it is Earth Day! What better time to start a journey into sustainability?
Here is a list of the changes I want to make next…
- Buy more responsibly & ethically
- Buy quality over quantity
- Shop local as much as possible
- Continue transitioning plastic Tupperware to glass
- Less food waste – don’t buy more than we need
- Switch from tampons & pads to a period cup
- Make my own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent
- Buy less pre-packaged food (aka cookies and chips…we’re addicted!)
- Make Frugalwoods homemade sparkling water
- Learn new ways to travel more responsibly
I am curious to hear the things you are doing to become more sustainable too! Let me know how you’re changing the world in the comments!