If you are new to a sustainable life (like me!) it can be hard to find a starting place. The internet can be overwhelming when it comes to sustainability and I hope I can make the process a little easier by giving you a few easily integrated tips to get you on the right path!
My first tip is to take it slow. You can't do a 180 to your life and expect it to stick so make sure you can take steps before jumping in the deep end.
1. Reusable water bottles are the easiest starting point.
This has been a huge push for years, but if you aren't already on the bandwagon, HOP ON! Reusable water bottles not only reduce plastic use and save you money, they are also adorable and everyone under the sun sells them now. So out with that single-use plastic, in with a stylish water bottle!
My favorite: Camelback brand for three cup bottles, Yeti cups for anything bigger than that.
2. The next step is reusable coffee and drink cups.
This goes in line with reusable water bottles but adds an extra challenge if you eat out a lot or get coffee every day. Instead of wasting the wax-coated, non-recyclable Starbucks cups you can bring your own! All the ones I have were $1 from Starbucks and saves me from using a cup once — as long as I remember to bring it.
This becomes a challenge if you are consistently getting fast food because most non-coffee places won't fill your cup up from the drive-through and there are some fast food chains that keep the drink machine behind the counter and won't take your cup inside either.
Its food for thought, but definitely challenge yourself to use less to-go cups and more of your own!
My favorite: Yeti cups are fantastic for iced drinks and besides my one Yeti I have all Starbucks reusable iced and hot coffee cups. (ProTip: Buy them during end-of-year sales!)
3. You can't forget replacing plastic Ziploc bags with reusable tupperware.
I really hope you kicked this habit years ago, but if not, it's easy to integrate and cheap. Target sells pretty large packs of various sized Tupperware and then you can put your sandwiches, salads, and snacks in those and pack them (In a lunchbox, not a plastic bag!).
4. A harder steps that is very necessary is replacing plastic straws with reusable straws.
This hardest part with this one is remembering to bring your reusable straw places with you. I had three metal ones and two of them were left at restaurants so my solution was to get a foldable silicon straw that collapses and fits on a key chain. Reusable straws are less cost-effective on your end, but a major switch you need to make to help out the environment.
Pro tip: Get one with a case, a cleaning brush and on a keychain. The sets that I have found are $10 or less and sold at most Wal-marts.
5. A beauty tip is swapping out soap in plastic bottles with bars of soap.
This tip is one I always try to bring into my beauty routine and end up going back on a few days later. Soap bars are normally wrapped in paper that you can recycle and made out of more nature-friendly materials than bottled soaps. If you are a major sustainability nerd definitely try to find some bars of soap that you can add to your life!
6. One I get to start trying today is using a reusable Q-tip!
This idea I am not totally on board with yet, but I am trying to be. Recently I bought a reusable rubber and silicon Q-tip, but found the issue that it can get wax out of your ears, but not absorb water the way a cotton Q-tip can. Since I am prone to ear infections I think I will have to carry out this trick by using it to reduce the number of Q-tips.
The brand I just bought: Hokeea Portable Reusable Swabs off of Amazon
7. This could get hard, but don't over think it. Unplug your electronics.
I started this habit about two years ago and now it is an absolute breeze! I don't unplug things like televisions or microwaves unless I will be gone for three days or more, but this tip saves you money and allows the energy in the world to be lessened. Every morning I unplug my lamp and phone charger once I am done getting ready for the day.
I make sure my laptop charger is tucked away and not plugged in and after breakfast, I double check that the toaster and coffee maker have been unplugged. It took me a few weeks to get used to this routine, but now I can't stop doing it and it cuts down my energy bill each month!
8. Please switch your lightbulbs!
I cannot stress this enough, switch to energy saving, fluorescent light bulbs. If you want to do one better make them compact. You get better lighting than a yellow glow, save money on your end and have to replace them less meaning you won't be contributing as much waste into the world. Make the switch as soon as you can!
9. Turn off your lights when you can for the environment and your energy bill.
This goes along with tips seven and eight, but switch your lights off when you aren't using them. I had a roommate in a four bedroom apartment that always left all the lights on and it drove the rest of us crazy and made utilities high. Again, cut your use, save some money and be aware of your environmental footprint!
10. Shorter showers are great for everyone!
I am a sucker for long, hot showers, but they are awful for the environment. Take a shorter shower when you can and then you're producing less waster. And again, save on your water bill! Sustainability will help out your wallet!
11. Skip the plastic shopping bags and grab a cute reusable one!
Recently, my mom brought back the cutest reusable bags from Disney World and I have been using them constantly because they're so cute I want to put my shopping items in them. Don't forget that you can bring them clothes shopping to. Lessening your plastic bag waste is not limited to grocery stores!
12. On a larger scale, have a smaller family if possible.
I can't speak as much to this one, but in my research for sustainable living, one of the big topics was having fewer children so there is a smaller population producing waste.
13. Try to DIY and repurpose where you can.
A big thing in my house is to DIY everything we can. This allows you to repurpose a lot of cool things you forgot you have and in turn reduce the amount of waste being put into the world.
14. Love yourself and the fact that you're saving the world!
Sustainability is hard to get in to, but once you do you will be saving money and doing your part in making a cleaner world!