Chances are, if you’re reading this blog you’re already aware that humans are producing far too much waste. The food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, the transportation that we use. Waste is generated every step along the way. Thinking about this problem can seem extremely daunting. Can you say eco-anxiety? Yeah, we know the feeling! You might feel totally helpless and be paralyzed by the thought that you can’t make a difference.
But the truth is, you can! By changing a few things in your own life, you can send a powerful message. As a consumer you, hold enormous power to shift the very foundations of how our society functions. Because big brands, corporations and governments listen when there is a large call for change! Remember that, my friend, because it will continue to give you hope when the going gets tough. It has already brought around lasting change where grocery stores no longer use single use plastic bags! Hooray for change!
So here are steps you can take to prepare yourself to live your most sustainable life.
First and foremost! And this one is very important folks. Cut yourself some slack. No, we’re dead serious. Go easy on yourself before you even get started. You’re going to look at your weekly trash and the products you have that aren’t “eco”, and you’re going to want to cut it all out. Immediately and ruthlessly! Unfortunately, while this kind of gung-ho attitude is totally applaudable (we applaud you!), it definitely won’t last. Reducing your waste is a lifestyle shift, it’s not a quick fix. Plus, it will cost you a fortune to replace all those perfectly good products at once. So relax and take a chill. Shake off all that pressure and anxiety before you start to give yourself the best shot at reaching your lofty #envirogoals.
Next, establish your “why”. This is a really important step. It will give you something to come back to when things get tough (and they will!) so you can refocus and reinvigorate yourself! Maybe you want to reduce you and your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals found in plastics and other disposable products. Maybe you are sick and tired of governments not thinking long term about climate policy and you want to give them the message that we care! Here at Everusely, our why is really clear, we want to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill and contaminating our waterways and oceans by producing long lasting and high-quality eco-friendly products.
Get intimate with your trash. For the next week or two, take a long hard look at what you are throwing away. The volume that ends up in your trash and recycling bins will probably surprise you. In order to help you figure out where you are generating the most waste, it will help you to segregate your general trash a bit further. If you’re not doing so already then put your food scraps in a separate waste bin to your other general waste and recycling. This will help you with the next step which is to…
Prioritize! Now that you know what waste you are producing most of, you can stat to tackle those areas first. Here are some suggestions for what you can do:
If you’re generating a lot of food scraps, cardboard and paper waste, think about starting a compost bin. Composting is one of the best ways to reduce landfill and is really important for reducing the amount of methane gas produced by landfill sites. I know it may sound like a drag and a hassle, and I’m sure you have hundreds of good excuses for why it’s not going to work for your lifestyle. But getting started is really easy. You can even compost while living in an apartment! So there really are no excuses. You can read more about how to compost (yes even in an apartment) and why it’s so important here.
You can likely repurpose many of the things you throw away. For instance, many food products come in glass jars and bottles. You can reuse these in so many ways in your home! From taking homemade dressings to work, to storing your makeup brushes in the bathroom, the possibilities for glass jars are endless. Removing their labels can turn these jars into pretty little votives. Our favorite use for old glass jars is to propagate plants! Most houseplants propagate easily in water, and having little cuttings in different shapes and sizes of glass jars is a super cute aesthetic.
If you’re generating a lot of recycling waste, make sure you are up to speed on the recycling practices of your area. Recycling is not a sustainable option for the environment, and there are lots of reasons for this (see here), but if you do have things that can be recycled, it’s important to ensure they end up in the right place to give them the best shot at being turned into something new.
Contamination (either food or non-recyclable trash) is one of the biggest reasons why recyclables end up in landfill or contaminating waterways and NOT being recycled. Just because you want something to be recycled with all your heart and soul, doesn’t mean it can. You can’t recycle old greasy pizza boxes! And mistakes like this aren’t just a matter of someone at the other end removing them, they can end up in the machines and compromise that entire batch of recycling. You might also be throwing away other items that can be recycled at the appropriate recycling plant. Most major supermarkets have drop off points for soft plastic recycling, so you can drop them off when doing your weekly shop. Batteries and electronic waste also have their own drop-off points. Make sure you know what can go where and be extra vigilant about it.
Replace items with eco-friendly options as needed. It’s all well and good to want to replace all your non-eco-friendly products with sustainable alternatives. But this is a costly and wasteful exercise. Not just for you, but for the planet too! For instance, it would be silly to replace those new plastic toothbrushes or paper towels just because you’ve found an eco-friendly alternative that you love. The temptation was certainly there for us when we found pretty bamboo and coconut fiber dish brushes! Just make sure all your products are well and truly at the end of their natural life before you replace them with swanky eco-friendly alternatives.
Remember reducing your impact on the environment is s journey, and not something that will happen overnight. It’s important to take it slow, know why you are doing it, and just keep chipping away every day. Before you know it, you will have made lasting changes in your world, and ours.