This article was updated on November 15th, 2021.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. Ever since we were little we’ve heard these three words in conjunction with speeches about saving the planet and doing what we can to make the world a greener place. But in reality, sometimes everything that goes into recycling can seem daunting or overwhelming to relate to our day to day lives. Well, not anymore. Today, we’re going to be breaking down the littlest and simplest ways you can make a difference and do your part to create a cleaner and greener planet.
1. Shop Second Hand: When it comes to shopping, who doesn’t love a good vintage find or an awesome deal? Well, by shopping second hand, or shopping at thrift shops you can achieve both while helping the planet in a major way. As reported by EcoWatch, the fast fashion industry is the second “dirtiest” industry in the world—only behind the oil industry. Every year, 95% of the clothes and textiles that end up in our landfills could be used again. Because of its use of raw material, clothing construction, shipping, manufacturing, and the ultimate disposal of the garments, the fashion industry is a huge contributor to environmental issues we face today. Did you know that it can take more than 5,000 gallons of water just to manufacture a T-shirt and pair of jeans? YIKES. Lucky for us, there are already millions upon millions of cute and trendy pieces that are unused and unwanted. We recommend checking out online retailers such as ThredUp to do your next shopping spree in a sustainable way. Thredup is a fashion resale website for consumers to buy and sell secondhand clothing online for less. You can either request a Payout Bag, with which you earn money for the clothes you sell, or you can request a donation bag. You can choose to donate your bag to a charity of your choice to help support families, education, natural disaster relief and the environment. That is something we can get on board with!
2. Buy in Bulk: Have you ever got back from the grocery store and been shocked by the amount of plastic you managed to accumulate from your trip? Us too. Luckily, most stores are catching onto the sustainability movement by offering bulk sections. With these bulk sections, you can forgo the plastic bags and bring your own cloth bags or glass jars instead, and simply stock up on your goods without the excess plastic. From rice and pasta to trail mix, cereals and snacks, the bulk section allows you to buy as much or as little as you need. Not to mention, buying in bulk typically saves you money since you aren’t paying for those fancy labels!
3. Support Sustainable Companies: If you choose to buy unused clothes or goods, then we recommend you still put your money to a good cause. Though secondhand shopping is always the most sustainable, technology has brought so many alternatives that offer incredible companies who are trying to do some good. Brands like Teeki, Alternative Apparel, and Outdoor Voices actually use recycled plastic bottles to create their clothing. These brands not only offer a guilt-free conscious, but they’re cute and comfy too.
4. Compost Your Food: When bringing up the question of waste and recycling, it’s important to remember that the food on our plates count as well. For example, 25-50% of what people throw away is made up of organic wastes such as food and yard waste. This organic waste then goes to landfills where it decomposes and releases methane gas. Instead of contributing to this dangerous and wasteful cycle, try out at home composting. Great for the planet and your garden, you can learn how to start up your own at home composting system by watching this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-uxdrMt4k0
5. Cut the Plastic: As expansive and overwhelming as this may sound, it’s really not that hard. We aren’t asking you to go completely waste free, but simply to cut back on your use of plastic in your everyday life. Something as simple as forgoing the plastic straw at a restaurant, or switching to a bamboo toothbrush, or investing in a reusable water bottle can make a world of a difference. It’s the little things that all add up, and it’s the little changes that you can make in your own life that will contribute. For more information on simple ways, you can cut out plastic, see here: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/nationalgreenweeksub/waste-reduction-tips/tips-to-use-less-plastic.html