Many of us are in full resolution mode, working on finance, fitness, and all kinds of other self-care in the new year. It’s easier than ever for our resolutions to extend a little further beyond ourselves and think more globally about how we can live a more “green” earth-friendly lifestyle. It can sometimes be intimidating to think about tossing traditionally toxic products or making lifestyle changes to adapt to these habits, but tiny changes add up. Here are a few of our favorite ways to live green this year.
1. Recycle Your Electronics
If you recently got a new cell phone, laptop, or other electronic device, go the extra mile to think about how to responsibly dispose of your older tech tools. E-waste is becoming a greater issue as toxins from our outdated technology can seep into the earth if disposed of improperly. Check with your original service providers or local retailers for recycling programs, or consider donating your device to a worthy cause.
2. Learn About Slow Fashion
Picking up steam as the opposite of some of our favorite “fast fashion” retailers, slow fashion is about recycling, buying secondhand, and choosing sustainably produced products. Get familiar with your favorite resell sites like Poshmark and The RealReal, and get in the habit of checking there first before going through your normal online shopping routine. Be a part of the front end of the recycling process by periodically purging your closet and donating, reselling, or getting them to a textile recycling center.
3. Clean Green
Green home cleaning products have gone mainstream in recent years and these alternatives can be found almost anywhere you buy your normal grocery hauls! This aspect of green living is really important because you’re not only keeping toxins out of the earth, but you’re also keeping them out of your home! So many chemicals in traditional cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which means they contain acids or formaldehyde.
When you think about the fact that you spray these all around your house — and children and pets can come in contact with them — it’s an easy switch to make. Go even further and save some money by making your own green cleaners. They often only require ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice that you might already have on hand!
4. Make Your Food Storage Permanent
When thinking food storage, think: what is the most permanent option for my kitchen? You want containers and storage devices that will last indefinitely, and not need to be thrown out or even recycled if possible. Glass containers don’t leak chemicals the same way plastics do. You’ll also be sure to wash and re-use them instead of the odd tupperware that sometimes ends up in the trash or recycle.
Get to the next level of green living food storage by using non-plastic alternatives like wax wrappers, and new packing alternatives to take lunch or store things in the fridge. You’re already bringing a lunch tote to work instead of a paper or plastic bag, right?
5. Cut Down on Food Waste
Next, think about all the food scraps you throw away. Peels, stems, and other odds and ends have a life after the kitchen or even repurposed in cooking in new ways. If home composting is a possibility for you, it’s a way to sustainably re-use all food waste, even some grains, and other surprise ingredients like coffee grounds!
If you’re keeping them in the kitchen, a super hearty stock or bone broth is an awesome place to start. (You can even toss them all in the freezer until you have a good stash for a Sunday meal prep day.) Thanks to the wide world of food blogging, it just takes a quick search to figure out what to do with crazy leftover ingredients. Juice pulp as veggie burgers? Your world will thank you.
6. Actively Manage Your Utilities and Transport
Since the sustainability movement can feel like it requires such a global effort, it’s important to refocus on the small things you are in control of that can make change. Take inventory at home of your utility usage. Do you leave the air or heating on during the day without thinking much about it? If there’s no one home, invest in a timer for your heat and AC, or make it a habit to check and adjust before heading out the door at work. Water consumption is another easy place to make changes.
For example, filling a sink to do dishes almost always saves water compared to letting it run over the same amount of time. Make it a goal to reduce your consumption of home utilities — even a little month by month. By the end of the year, it can add up to not only big savings but measurable environmental impact.
Lastly, think through your transportation style. If you’re someone who is in the car running errands all weekend, a little more strategic planning can help cut down on gas usage and emissions. Batching errands and tacking them on to other routes can add up. (Your wallet will be happy to see these changes, too.) Of course, taking public transit and carpooling when possible is a great alternative to hopping in your car.
7. Choose Green Beauty
Green beauty doesn’t have an exact definition, but generally means the product you are using is naturally or organically produced. It’s also likely free of chemicals and toxins known to cause environmental or potential physical damage. Start by getting familiar with the list of these ingredients you should avoid. This isn’t just chemical compounds and includes things like micro plastic beads found in some scrubs that are damaging to the ocean and environment. Then, scout around for favorites lists from traditional beauty curators. While some of these green beauty products are not always packaged sustainably, it is a step in the right direction of educating yourself on ingredients and impact.