Happy New Year, everyone! Another year has come and gone, and this year, I want to challenge you to consider choosing one (or more) of these practical steps to reducing your carbon footprint and living more sustainably in 2021.
How to Be More Sustainable
1. Buy less
It probably does not come as a surprise that this is #1 on the list, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to cut back on the amount of stuff we buy. Whether it’s clothing or home decor, there are plenty of things that we buy that we end up rarely using.
Before you buy an item, ask yourself whether you really need it and how much you would use it - be honest with yourself! If you know you'll only wear an item of clothing a couple times before getting sick of it, it's probably best to pass on that item. If you really love to shop, and don’t want to give up your hobby, try thrifting. You can find so many unique items at thrift stores, and it’s a great opportunity to develop your own style while also saving some money and emissions.
2. Switch from disposable to reusable
Think of something disposable that you use a lot of: it could be plastic water-bottles, to-go cups, takeout containers, paper towels, cotton rounds, plastic grocery bags, etc. Whatever that item is for you, I want to challenge you to switch to a reusable version. I know that some places don't allow you to bring your own cups or containers right now, but at the very least you could ask for no straw and instead bring your own reusable one, or ask for no plastic cutlery and bring your own instead.
3. Meatless Mondays
You do not have to go completely vegan to make a difference! Nearly 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of meat, dairy and eggs, and the production of meat requires a lot of water. The emissions associated with producing one quarter pound of beef is about the equivalent of driving a car 11 kilometers (seven miles). By reducing your meat consumption and eating vegetarian even just one day a week, you are doing your part to help the environment.
Try getting a few friends on board with Meatless Mondays and you can all cook a vegetarian meal together.
Follow along on my Pinterest board for delicious vegetarian meals & snack ideas.
Food waste is a huge issue - in fact, America wastes about 40% of its food, and 58% of food produced in Canada goes to waste. But we also waste so much food in our homes. This can sometimes be avoided by eating your oldest produce before it goes bad, and cooking in appropriate portions, but another way to avoid food waste is to start composting.
Most plants do not have to go to waste, but can return to the earth by being composted and turned into fertilized dirt. Check out this full list of what you are able to compost.
5. Purchase local groceries
As much as possible, buy local when it comes to produce. Attending your local farmer’s market can help reduce emissions since food does not have to travel to get to you, plus there is far less packaging involved than buying from a grocery store.
As an added bonus, it’s always great to give back to your own community, and you to know where your food comes from (don't forget to bring your reusable produce bag!). If you’re into gardening, planting your own herbs and vegetables can be a very rewarding experience, and you end up saving money and emissions!
6. Switch up your method of transportation
If you live close enough to where you work or go to school, consider walking or biking. It’s a great way to save on fuel, and is also a great way to incorporate some exercise and fresh air into your day. You could also consider carpooling with a coworker or taking the bus to reduce emissions.
7. DIY Cleaner
Household cleaners are often packed with unnecessary chemicals which can have a negative affect on your health, and on the heath of the environment since many of these chemicals end up in our streams and rivers. These products also come in plastic packaging which adds up to a lot of waste over the years. Fortunately, you can easily make your own cleaner using baking soda or vinegar and some essential oils. Another option is to visit a refill store such as Fill in Vernon and Kelowna where you can purchase non-toxic cleaner and refill the same container once you’ve run out.
Living more sustainably doesn’t have to be an unreachable goal or an overwhelming thought - you can start right where you are. Implementing even just one of these changes can make a difference. Best of luck in your sustainability journey!