Getting started on a journey to living a more sustainable, eco-friendly life can feel incredibly complex. The idea of changing your entire way of life can seem like a huge task with an unclear way to start! It can seem impossible to live sustainably when you consider all the things that are a part of our everyday life that are NOT sustainable. Take a look around, count the number of plastic items that you find, single-use items, products made in environmentally unethical ways. Plastic is everywhere and has become more difficult to avoid.
Originally, the invention and mass dispersal of consumer plastic products were to make modern lives easier. In 2018 the EPA reported that single use and packaging plastic made up 14.5 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW). Overall, the amount of MSW has been increasing at a rapid pace, climbing 42 million tons between 1990 and 1995 alone. Plastic waste is not only harmful to the environment, it is also extremely damaging to our health. According to the Geneva Environment Network:
Humans are exposed to a large variety of toxic chemicals and microplastics through inhalation, ingestion, and direct skin contact, all along the plastic lifecycle. According to WWF on average people could be ingesting approximately 5 grams of plastic every week, which is the equivalent weight of a credit card.
So, where do we start?
WHAT DOES ‘LIVING SUSTAINABLY’ MEAN?
It’s important to understand what it means to “live sustainably”. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resources and personal resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption, and diet.
HOW CAN YOU START LIVING SUSTAINABLY?
A great place to start is to do a sustainable audit of your home and the processes that keep your home functioning. Here are 4 easy ways to improve your environmental impact on a daily basis:
1. MAKE YOUR KITCHEN MORE SUSTAINABLE
The kitchen is a great place to begin, since most single use plastic is used in the kitchen. Plastic utensils are often used to protect Teflon-coated pans. Metal or wood are better choices for the environment. Many brands are also introducing bamboo dishware and storage options. Bamboo is extremely eco friendly, it is readily biodegradable and easy to grow without pesticides of chemicals.
Recycle your Tupperware and opt for glass or metal: These include reusable metal or glass water bottles, glass storage containers and reusable stainless-steel items like cups, plates and bowls. These alternatives are easy to clean and pack to go, making living sustainably easy even with a busy lifestyle! Get rid of Tupperware and all disposable packaging. Disposable plastics are often mixed with harmful chemicals which can potentially leech into their contents when heated or when worn down.
One of these chemicals is known as Bisphenol S has been found in 81% of blood tested, due to it’s inclusion in plastic consumer products, and that it can lead to ailments such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects, and cancer.
Try using reusable produce bags or go bag-less: If you often buy fresh produce, you have a significant change of ending up with a lot of single use produce bags which often end up in the garbage. There are fantastic reusable options available, many which can be sourced locally.
Keep your cleaning routine green: a large source of waterway and ecosystem contamination comes from the chemicals that are washed down drains. Things like liquid bleach, drain cleaner, and ammonia all contribute to toxic chemicals in local ecosystems and compromising waste water systems in local communities.
2. START USING REUSABLE BAGS
Did you know that between five billion to one trillion plastic bags are being used every year in the world? Plastic shopping bags are the most harmful to the environment. Shopping with your own bag can help reduce plastic waste. You can also avoid food packaging by shopping in bulk and bringing your own containers! Many cities are seeing the emergence of bulk stores. These stores offer a huge amount of products, from shampoos to spices, without any individual plastic packaging.
Remember, if you have to use plastic bags, you should reuse them as often as possible and then recycle them when you are done. Many grocery stores have bins that allow you to return plastic bags and film.
3. WHEN POSSIBLE, MAKE YOUR OWN FOOD
After a long day at the office, cooking is not something you would want to do. We get it. However, take-out often involves a lot more plastic and single use waste than eating at home. Remember that processed or premade foods and lots of disposable packaging go hand in hand. Natural, local ingredients are healthier for your health and the environment.
4. LOOK INTO PLASTIC FREE CLOTHING
Recent studies have shown that tiny fibers made from synthetic fabrics are being emitted into the water supply of aquatic animals. It is possible to reduce the amount of tiny fibers entering our water streams by choosing clothes made from natural fibers like cotton, hemp, linen and wool. Polyester, for example, is made from synthetic material.
5. GET A GREEN CLEANING ROUTINE
You will likely find a lot of cleaning products in your cabinets that you don’t use or chemical heavy products that you’re not wanting to continue using. There are only a few products that you really need to clean your entire home which makes living sustainably simple. Keeping a citric acid based multipurpose cleaner, cleaning vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide will cover all your cleaning needs across many different rooms and situations.
Find mold under your sink? Don’t reach for the bleach! Choose a non-toxic cleaning solution that contains citric acid or vinegar which is powerful enough to kill mold, but not harmful to water systems. A natural cleaning routine paired with the powerful probiotic protection of Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic spray, your home will stay happy and healthy, protected from the sources of grime and musty odors.
Annie Leonard, a notable American proponent for sustainable living, said:
There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw something away it must go somewhere.
The idea that everything we consumer MUST take up space before, during, and after we use it is a great foundation for making more sustainable decisions. Living sustainably is as easy as remembering that EVERYTHING has to end up SOMEWHERE.
We don’t recommend that you start over and discard everything. Instead, we suggest that you work with what is available and, as they run out, make a list of eco-friendly, plastic-free options. We launched with three cleaners that are focused on the main areas of our home: living, bathroom, and kitchen. The cleaners are able to handle almost any cleaning task, reducing the amount of products needed in your home. Even the biggest waves, start as small ripples.