This is Part 3 in my "100 Sustainable Swaps for a Greener Life" series.
A year and a half ago I started slowly and systematically changing my behaviors to live a less environmentally-impactful life. I'm proud to say that I now have a list of 100 sustainable swaps that I have personally implemented. Read on to see if you can apply any to your life!
Click here for Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.
21. Carry Your Own Utensils
Many restaurants (even sit-down restaurants) serve their food with plastic utensils that are used once and then thrown away. If you simply keep some reusable utensils in your bag you can pass on unnecessary plastic ones for the rest of your life. I love the set pictured above from To-Go Ware (find it on my Products Page) because it contains everything you need in a recycled-plastic pouch with a carabiner for easy transport. These also come in handy during camping trips or other times when you need a utensil but don't have access to any.
22. Make Your Own Lip Balm
I was tired of buying lip balm in small, disposable plastic containers so I decided to make my own. I made a huge batch of this recipe and put it back into my used cocoa butter container for portability. It will last for months but generated significantly less waste than buying the store-bought version.
23. Pick Up Litter
I've hiked hundreds of trails but have never seen one that's 100% free of trash. I used to try to ignore the trash (not my trash, not my problem) but after seeing this Instagram page I was inspired to start picking up AT LEAST one piece of trash every time I hike.
Of course, litter isn't limited to the wilderness. I haven't gotten to the level of picking up NYC trash yet, but some people carry gloves and pick up city litter too.
24. Use the Revolving Door
Buildings are positively pressured to keep contaminated/unconditioned outside air from flowing inside. Every time someone opens a swinging door, conditioned air quickly flows outside - increasing demand on the HVAC system and therefore using more energy to heat/cool the space.
Revolving doors significantly cut down this unwanted airflow - as much as 8x less air flows through a revolving door than a swinging door but only ~20% of people leaving/entering a building use it. For the sake of your building's energy use, try to use the revolving door more!
25. Make your own Juice
I love to treat myself to a green juice occasionally, but always have to deal with the guilt of purchasing juice in a plastic bottle or cup. I decided to buy my own juicer (got one secondhand on Craigslist for $5) and now I can make #zerowaste juice using unpackaged produce and my own juicer.
26. Shop at the Flea Market
Flea markets are great places to buy used furniture, home goods, decor, or random knick-knacks. Sometimes trips to the flea market are a bust but other times you find really fun, one-of-a-kind things at a good price! Bonus: you can haggle with the sellers to lower the selling price and get the best deal possible.
27. Wrap Gifts with Old Paper
When giving a gift it's what's inside counts, not the way the wrapping looks. Rather than buying wrapping paper which will immediately be torn apart and thrown away, get creative with upcycled wrapping! You can use old newspaper, paper bags, bags from gifts you've been given, cloth wraps, reusable bags, and more.
28. Give People Experience Gifts Rather Than Objects
To avoid waste from gifts all together, give people experience gifts rather than physical gifts. This also helps you to avoid buying something that the recipient doesn't want and will never use. Take your friends/family to an amusement park, on a hike, to a concert, or to a restaurant and make some memories instead of waste.
29. Pack Your Own Food/Beverages for Airplane Flights
Airplane meals and snacks are always packaged individually so that the plane staff can serve them in a quick and sanitary way. Even the drinks are served out of individual cans and bottles. To avoid this, pack your own snacks and meals for the plane. Fill up your reusable water bottle before boarding the plane and if you need more on the flight, ask the stewardess to fill your personal container rather than using a disposable cup.
30. Meal Prep
It's hard to find time to cook home cooked meals every night so many people end up going out to eat during the work week out of necessity. If you spend an hour or two prepping simple meals and ingredients on the weekend you can avoid eating out during the week by packing your own lunch and having ready-to-make dinners. I have become obsessed with meal prepping (check out some of my best preps above) because it helps me to eat healthy, reduce waste, and save money by not eating out daily.
Stay tuned for the next installment of 100 Sustainable Swaps!
Click here to continue to Part 4
Click here to go back to Part 2