This is Part 5 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, 4, and 6.
41. Use a Reusable Coffee Mug
Nowadays, almost all coffee shops allow patrons to use their own travel mugs for their beverages (and the best shops will give you a discount for BYO-ing). Just order your drink as you always do but ask the barista to put the drink in your tumbler. Take the lid off before you hand it to them as they often don’t want to touch the lid of your cup. The barista will call your name when your drink is done just like normal, but this time you will have created no unnecessary waste in the process! This works for both iced and hot beverages.
Find my favorite reusable mugs on my products page.
42. Take Things from the Street
I live in Brooklyn, New York and it’s normal here for people to place items that they no longer want but are still usable out on their front stoop. Anything you see on the street is “up for grabs” and you shouldn’t be shy about taking it if you have a use for it – if you don’t take it it will just end up in the landfill so you might as well grab it. I have found many things on the street like home goods, books, mason jars, and more that were 100% free!
43. Make Homemade Nut Milk
Store-bought nut milks are pasteurized to extend their shelf life which means that the nuts are no longer “raw” and lose many of their nutrients. Also, the cardboard cartons that the milk comes in are wasteful and are lined with polyethylene and aluminum which can leach into the milk. It’s much healthier and greener to make your own nut milks – you just need nuts, water, a blender, and a few minutes of time! Plus, when you make it yourself you can customize the flavor and thickness to your liking and make as much or as little as you want.
44. Use Ridesharing Services
There are times in the city when I have too much stuff with me to walk or bike around. In these cases, I use ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft to quickly call a driver to take me wherever I want to go. A slightly greener way to use these services is to call an Uber Pool or Lyft Line instead of a private car. These carpool options allow the driver to pick up other passengers along the way that are going to destinations along the route. BONUS: this option is also cheaper than a private car!
45. Take Baths
Although it’s slightly counter-intuitive, baths (on average) use less water than showers. Most people stop taking baths once they’re adults but I think we should all incorporate a few baths into our weekly routine to cut down on water consumption and give ourselves a little TLC! I always take a bath when I shave my legs to prevent water from going straight down the drain while I shave. Bathing also helps me get a closer shave because hair softens when it’s submerged in water.
46. Use Bath Bombs
If you’re going to take a bath and want to put some type of salt/oil/scent in the water, try a bath bomb! You can buy them package-free in stores like Lush and drop them straight into your bath to elevate the experience.
47. Ask for No Bag
Cashiers default to putting whatever is in front of them into a plastic bag, but sometimes this isn’t necessary. If you’re just buying laundry detergent or that one ingredient you’re missing from your dinner recipe you can easily take it home sans-bag – just politely state that you don’t need a bag. If you have a backpack or purse with you, you can try to fit the items in there. Cashiers sometimes insist you take a bag (I don’t know why they care so much) but just be firm and say “no thank you”. (The cashier at the Bodega near my apartment tries to give me one EVERY TIME and rolls his eyes EVERY TIME I say no bag even though I’ve been there like 100000 times).
48. Join a CSA
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and is (in my opinion) a MUST for anyone that lives in a city or other type of food-desert. When you join a CSA, you purchase a “share” of produce from a local farmer and you receive your share on a recurring basis (monthly, weekly, etc.). Usually the farmer chooses what produce goes into the shares each week based on what they have available to them, but sometimes you can customize what produce comes in your share. The benefits of CSA’s are:
You consume locally grown food
You support family farmers and small businesses
You save $$$
You save time that you would have wasted shopping in the store
The food tastes AMAZING because it is fresh
49. Ride a Bike
I talked about bike shares in an earlier part of this series, but I also have my own (lighter, faster) bike as well. Owning a bike allows me to get places quickly without creating any carbon emissions. I often bike to the grocery store and wear a backpack to transport my purchases home – this is much more pleasant than walking with arms full of groceries. Also, biking allows me to get places more efficiently because I’m not limited by the subway lines.
50. Purchase Recycled Plastic Clothing
Although we should all strive to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics rather than relying on recycling, there are now several clothing companies that use recycled plastic in their fabrics. I buy products from these companies when I can’t find the specific item I need secondhand. My personal favorite brand is Girlfriend, which makes sports bras, leggings, and workout shirts out of recycled plastic water bottles and fishing nets. It’s nice to sometimes be able to purchase items in the right size and color rather than searching in countless thrift stores for the perfect fit.
Find Girlfriend athleticwear on my products page.
Stay tuned for the next installment of 100 Sustainable Swaps!
Click here to continue to part 6
Click here to go back to part 4