Happy 2019! I’m jumping in to this new year with fresh motivation to tint my life green. I gave myself lots of grace while I was pregnant and adjusting to life with a newborn — in fact, I still give myself lots of grace because even though we’re eight months into this parenting thing, there’s a lot that still throws me for a loop.
This post has been requested a few times and I figured what better way to kick off the 2019 blog posts than with an overview of simple, sustainable changes we can make this year! Whether you take on all five or go one by one, I hope this encourages you to start somewhere!
1. ditch disposable cups
You had to know I was going to say this. Even if all you do is bring a mug to work or start carrying your own reusable water bottle or invest in an insulated travel cup, refusing disposable cups will make a difference.
It’s easy to think, it’s just one cup and I’m just one person, but one cup a day is still 365 at the end of a year. Plus the number of us using disposable cups is way higher than the number of folks who bring their own.
2. turn things off
I grew up in a household where you got a scolding if you didn’t turn the lights off when you left a room. While my parents did this more out of frugality than sustainability back then, the habit is both frugal and sustainable!
Open the blinds during the day and let the daylight brighten your home instead of lamps. Leaving the kitchen? Turn the lights off on your way out.
Same goes for letting the water run. Maybe it’s my Californian upbringing, but hearing the faucet run actually makes me cringe. If you’re dishwasher-less like me, make it a point to not let the water run while you do dishes.
Hop into the shower as soon as it warms up. I don’t expect anyone to stand in a cool shower waiting for it to warm up, especially in winter, but we can still be mindful of not just letting the water run and run and run unnecessarily.
3. buy naked produce
I like this one because it sounds a little scandalous. All I mean when I say “naked produce” is unpackaged produce.
Opt out of using plastic produce bags on your next grocery trip and you’ll more than likely realize that zucchini doesn’t need to come packaged in foam wrapped in plastic (looking at you, Trader Joe’s), cauliflower doesn’t need a plastic wrapping, and neither do carrots…or any produce, for that matter!
It’s all getting washed when we get home and things like carrots and potatoes usually get peeled before they’re prepared. Plus, produce doesn’t last longer in those yucky filmy plastic bags anyway.
And if you find that you do need a produce bag, I can’t recommend these muslin ones enough. I use them for potatoes and brussel sprouts, as well as for coffee and rice from the bulk section!
4. bring a tote
California passed a ban on single use plastic bags and now charges customers for bags that are called reusable but are really just thicker versions of the "old bags. *sigh* Technically, the old plastic bags were also reusable, we as a society just didn’t think of them that way.
I rarely see folks bringing the new plastic bags back into the store which is why I’m still talking about bringing your own bag when you shop.
This applies to the grocery store, obvi, but I make it a point to bring my totes when I go to Target or the mall, too!
If you already bring your totes when you grocery shop, try to bring one on your next clothes shopping trip. Cute as store bags are, we eventually toss them anyway.
5. stop buying packaged water
Sort of related to ditching disposable cups when you’re on the go, do the planet and your wallet a favor and stop buying the glorified tap water packaged in bottles. Packaged water just doesn’t deserve a place in most of our budgets.
There are obviously times that call for bottled water, like emergencies or natural disasters, but 99% of the time, a $35 insulated reusable water bottle could replace the flats of water bottles I see being purchased at the store.
Plastic never decomposes and that includes the plastic we use for bottled beverages.
I could stay on this soap box all day but I won’t. Just try a reusable bottle and the filtered water from your refrigerator or brita or your favorite coffee shop. I doubt you’ll regret it.
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Writing this post definitely got the gears in my head turning. I could name another five (or ten!) things we could all do to be more sustainable in 2019! But I’ll leave it at just these five for now. I hope your 2019 is off to a good start and I hope one (or all) of these easy habit changes finds its way into your life this year!
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