It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about sustainability but don’t worry… I didn’t forget about this very important topic! I’m still committed and fighting the good fight with you. Like many of you I found COVID quarantine very challenging and at the same time saw so many incredible things to be grateful for. Extra time with family, especially my graduating son who will be moving off to college in the fall. The opportunity to work, uninterrupted, on my book and passion project. Time to take care of myself and enjoy the solitude and self-reflection. But one of the things I wasn’t even thinking about was the profound impact quarantine would have on the environment. I mean, it’s completely logical, but just hadn’t occurred to me. It seemed like the silver lining good news in an otherwise challenging time. And many, even people who’ve never paid much attention before, were suddenly aware of the human impact on the environment. So, now as we head back to work and our busy lives, it’s time to create a new “normal” and discover simple ways to live more sustainably. Let’s keep up the momentum!
5 Simple Ways to Live More Sustainably
1. Waste Less
In the US we were pretty fortunate that we didn’t have significant food shortages but that doesn’t mean we didn’t feel the pain. Getting your favorite foods, cleaning supplies or toilet paper certainly wasn’t easy during quarantine. And I don’t know about you, but my family was definitely regretting some wasteful choices in our past. This made us much more aware of how important it is to buy what you need and use it wisely. In the months and years going forward it’s a goal of mine to be much more aware of waste in our household.
We’ve already started by reorganizing the pantry, so we have a better idea of what we have on hand! Because, let’s face it, it’s just good common sense to by staple items when they’re on sale. But it’s useless if you forget you have them!
Because so many people have been out of work and there are food shortages, we’re also donating foods we’re overstocked on or know we won’t eat before it expires to a local food bank. If your family is anything like mine, you might need to do this too. It seems my hubby or kids go on kicks where they only want to eat one thing and then get tired of it. This results in (for example) 8 cans of Amy’s Organic Soup in my house that no one will eat! And, by the way… this isn’t a slam on Amy’s, it’s incredible but I can’t eat it due to food allergies and the kid who was obsessed got burned out.
2. Eat Local
While we’re talking about food let’s get into a big impact item on so many levels! Choosing local produce makes a huge difference in so may ways that I’ve committed an entire post to the subject! But to summarize, eating local isn’t only good for the environment but also for your health and pocketbook!
Local produce means not only less pollution due to transport but also less chemical treatment. Plus, you’re more able to choose products that were grown using farming techniques that are healthier and more environmentally friendly.
Head to your farmer’s market or join a CSA to save bookoo bucks on your grocery bill! You can usually find organically grown produce that’s less expensive than the conventional in grocery stores.
Check out my post 15+ things to ask at the farmer’s market and go prepared to find the best deals from the best farmers. As an added bonus, you get to support your local economy and you can bring your own bags! UGH… I’m so tired of those plastic produce bags we were forced to use during lockdown… YUCK!
This way of living more sustainably is SO good for your health, delicious and saves you money all at the same time!
3. Choose Wisely
While some of us may have felt safer than others about contracting COVID no one was safe from the financial fall out! Even essential workers who continued working though out the lockdown struggled to make ends meet while paying for childcare or having an unemployed spouse. It’s definitely going to take some time to get ourselves righted financially.
So, this is a perfect time to rethink consumerism. Since impulse shopping is a lot harder now for most, we can take the time to really think about what we need, what we buy and who we buy from! Do a little research into your favorite brands and retailers and find out if their corporate policies align with your principles. Many companies won’t recover from the shut down and we have a choice, now more than ever, who comes out on top. Vote with your dollars! Find small, local, ethical businesses to support.
And, while you’re doing that research, share what you’ve learned! This is a great time to organize a boycott. Spread information about companies you find have inhumane, cruel or unsustainable practices. Use your social platform to enlist other like-minded individuals in the cause. And make sure you send the company you’re boycotting a letter explaining what needs to change! No one can afford lost revenue right now so it’s the perfect time to get your voice heard!
Being a conscious consumer is a great way to live more sustainably!
4. Enjoy the Outdoors
Think about it… if you’re outside your lights and screens are off. You can even turn down the air conditioning because let’s face it, when you head in from a 90°sunny day even 80 is cool! And speaking of the air conditioning… consider shutting it off and opening the windows in your house. Indoor air pollution is incredibly bad for your health. So, it’s a win – win to open the windows and get in some fresh air. There are few things more restful than falling asleep with a cool evening summer breeze coming in through the windows. Ahhhh….
One of the most important benefits to the environment is simply appreciation. Spending time outside with your family gives everyone much needed perspective about the value of nature. It teaches your children and reminds you not to take it for granted. Clean air and water are not guaranteed, neither are green spaces, hiking trails or beaches. It’s a lot easier to care for something you feel connected to and grateful for than something you’re unfamiliar with. If your children love nature, they’re more likely to work to protect the environment. And their more likely to make different choices or share their passion with their friends. So, head outside with your kids… and seriously… it’s REALLY good for your health and for theirs!
What a great opportunity to share your passion and teach your kids ways to live more sustainably!
5. Ride Your Bike
I know we all love the convenience of our cars but that doesn’t mean we need to take them everywhere. It’s not good for you or the environment. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in America and they’re major polluters. That said, I understand why we need them. Mass transit in the US is scarce and we live in sprawling communities. So, yeah, I get that we aren’t giving up our cars entirely.
Post COVID carpools are pretty uncommon as people worry about contracting the illness. That means even the most environmentally conscious is likely to skip ride sharing resulting in more cars on the road than usual. So, it’s time to start thinking about alternative, safe transportation. When running errands or heading out locally consider taking your bike!
I had my bike equipped with 3 large bags so I can easily pick up items from the grocery store. It’s relatively easy to have this done, do it yourself or affix a basket. And if that isn’t an option you can simply use a backpack.
Not only is riding your bike on local outings a great way to minimize car use, it also saves money, helps you connect to your community and it’s great for your health! Plus, it’s a super fun way to live more sustainably.
Other Ways to Live More Sustainably
If you’re just getting started with your journey toward sustainable living you might want some more tips so be sure to check out 15+ Sustainable Swaps and 7 Cheap, Easy Ways to Join the Zero Waste movement. Plus if you’re curious you can check out my journey.
Like all things, it isn’t about living perfectly. It’s about getting a little better every day. It can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task to reverse the damage that’s been done, but if we all do our part we can make an impact. Remember, millions of people making small changes outweighs a handful making huge changes. This is one of those times I’m happy to be one of the millions and I hope you’ll join us!