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100 Sustainable Swaps for a Greener Life: Part 4

This is Part 4 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, 3, 5, and 6.

31. Wash your Hair Less Often

Cutting back on the frequency with which you wash your hair saves resources and is better for you hair. My showers average around 15 minutes when I wash and condition my hair but only take 3-5 minutes if I'm just washing my body. By oiling training my hair, I've been able to switch from washing daily to every 3-4 days. This saves water, electricity used to heat the water, shampoo & conditioner, and waste from shampoo & conditioner packaging.

32. Homemade Dry Shampoo

Because I'm washing my hair less, there are days when grease builds up and I need to use dry shampoo. Rather than buying a packaged aerosol spray shampoo, I made my own two-ingredient dry shampoo out of equal parts corn starch and coco powder. I use an old makeup brush to apply a bit of this mixture to my greasy roots and it helps me to survive until my next wash. Bonus: it makes your hair smell like chocolate :)

33. Compost

Ah composting - one of my favorite zero-waste behaviors! There are many benefits of composting, but the biggest one has to do with Methane. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas and than carbon dioxide - it has 25 times the global warming potential. Landfills emit ~50% methane and ~50% carbon dioxide during decomposition because there is limited oxygen available, but compost facilities emit mostly CO2. By increasing the amount of organic waste being diverted from the landfill to a compost facility, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There are several ways to compost: you can build a composter in your backyard, get a curbside bin from your city if they offer this service, or take your compost to a local drop-off site. If you own a business or work in an office, you can hire a service to pick up compost from your office (this would be a great initiative to start at your company!)

34. Use a Menstrual Cup

The average menstruating person will use over 10,000 tampons in their lifetime - that's 10,000 pieces of cotton and 10,000 PLASTIC APPLICATORS in the trash from a single person! Menstrual cups cost a bit more upfront but can be used over and over without creating any waste - the cup catches the blood and is emptied directly into the toilet. Menstrual cups can also be worn longer, hold more fluid, and help you to really get in-tune with your body and cycle. Check out this article for more cup love and find my favorite menstrual cup on my products page <3

35. Leave Reviews for Businesses

If you love a certain restaurant or business but are fed up with their excessive packaging, Styrofoam containers, or plastic straws, speak up! Yelp and other review sites are so widely used in today's internet age that business owners often read and reply to comments. Let your voice be heard - you'll help open the business's eyes to something they may not have considered and may even inspire them to implement your suggestions.

36. Mend Things when they Break

Although we live in a throw-away society where any item can be replaced with a short visit to Target, I encourage you to value and care for the items you already own until the end of their life. This means mending things that break, sewing and patching clothes, and finding new uses for obsolete or broken items. Even if repair seems impossible, try looking online for tutorials or asking a friend for help before tossing and replacing the item.

27. Hang Clothes to Dry

Not only does air drying your clothes extend their life, it also saves electricity by not running the dryer. After washing my clothes, I air dry as many things as I can like athletic clothes or other wrinkle-free fabrics. This way I only run the dryer for the minimum amount of time that it takes to dry the clothes that need it.

38. Bring your own Takeout Container

It seems to me that portion sizes at restaurants have gotten out of hand - I'm rarely able to finish a whole meal. After partially finishing my food I used to wonder if I should force myself to eat the rest (not healthy), ask for the leftovers to be wrapped (creating plastic waste), or leave them behind (creating food waste). Now, I simply carry a stainless steel container or glass jar with me and I no longer have to have this internal debate! I can save even the tiniest bit of leftovers for later and don't have to generate waste in the process.

My takeout container also comes in handy when ordering food to-go like the canoli pictured above - rather than putting it in a wasteful styrofoam conatiner I had the server place the canoli straight into my stainless steel container.

Find my favorite nesting containers on my products page.

39. Use Unpackaged Makeup

I haven't tried too many package free makeup products yet but I am excited to try more as I use up my current products (no need to throw away things just because they're packaged). One thing that I have tried (pictured above) is Lush's lip tint which is a solid block of color that you rub directly onto your lips. Check out more package free makeup brands here.

40. Get your Beverage "For Here" instead of "To Go"

If you're going out for a coffee and plan to sit in the shop to drink it, it's worth telling the server you're going to have it "for here". That way they'll serve it to you in a reusable cup. If you don't speak up, the server will most likely assume you're taking it "to go" and give you a disposable cup.

Stay tuned for the next installment of 100 Sustainable Swaps!

Click here to continue to Part 5

Click here to go back to Part 3

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