“Living more sustainably” is a broad, sweeping term that feels daunting. We all know that we should care about our planet and our communities, but what changes can we actually make? Isn’t it easier to just not think about it at all?
It doesn’t take an extreme lifestyle change to be more sustainable in our everyday lives. Here are some small changes I have made that serve the dual purpose of simplifying my routine and creating less waste.
Don’t Use Plastic Produce Bags
There is actually no point in putting your fruit and vegetables in their own plastic baggie at the grocery store. I stopped using them out of necessity because NYC grocery stores put them up way too high for my 5’3 self to reach. I just started putting my produce directly in the cart, and then loose in my bag to take home, and you know what happened? Nothing. Those bags are just more plastic that will end up in landfills or blowing across the Belt Parkway. Lose them.
Bring A Tote Bag Everywhere
This is a more habitual shift in behavior, but it has a big impact. Throw a reusable tote in your everyday purse and start declining bags at the stores you frequent. It will cut down on your plastic intake and also might save you money; in many countries and cities across the globe, you are charged extra for taking a bag. And for some added incentive, Trader Joe’s enters you into a raffle to win free groceries if you bring your own tote.
Fill Up Reusable Coffee Mugs and Water Bottles
This might feel like work and you might have to get up a little earlier in the morning to hit the “BREW” button on your coffee maker, but bringing your own coffee to work is a much more sustainable option and will save you big bucks on your monthly expenses. Ditto on a reusable water bottle.
Bring Tableware To The Office
My office kitchen is notoriously NEVER fully stocked with plates, cutlery, and cups. After having to eat oatmeal with a plastic knife more than once, I finally brought in my own set of utensils, a bowl, and a small plate to reuse and wash. This makes my life easier, cuts down on waste, and actually helps me feel like a real human being while I’m eating leftovers at my desk.
Opt Out Of Plastic When Possible
When you find yourself in need of a new spatula, or broom, or garbage can, pause before automatically purchasing the cheapest plastic version. Items made of stainless steel, wood, and ceramic will last longer, look nicer, and are less likely to live in a landfill until the end of days.
Photo by Emily Barbeau