Climate change is overwhelming, and it can often feel that we personally have little control in mitigating it. While comprehensive change needs to come from the government and the private sector, many of us want to make changes in our own lives to reduce our carbon footprint– but where to start? Check out ClimateRoots’ list of sustainability ‘swaps’ from us, to you, for some great ways to reduce your environmental footprint. We say ‘swap’ because the most sustainable choice is to use what you have rather than buying new! But we hope this provides some helpful and fun ideas for you to implement in your own life.
Reusable paper towels: there are a bunch of great options for reusable paper towels that you can throw in the wash or put in your compost bin. But better yet, repurpose some of your old T-shirts or rags!
Meatless Monday: You don’t have to go vegan to make a difference. It can help to reduce your consumption of water or land intensive food though such as meat and dairy, even if it is just once per week!
Refillable or low waste cleaning products: Switching from single use cleaning products is a really easy way to cut down your kitchen/cleaning plastic waste.
There are refillable product lines from companies like Blueland or Grove that have a range of items from hand soap to a trio of cleaning sprays.
Switch from a liquid dish soap to a dish soap block for your sink dishes and Biodegradable dishwasher pods for your dishwasher! There is even solid laundry detergent!
Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated, healthy, and sustainable! Having a reusable water bottle eliminates the need for plastic water bottles that are costly and have some of the most toxic chemicals in them.
Reusable menstrual products: Traditional menstrual products create a lot of waste and are often water intensive to produce. There are a bunch of sustainable swaps from menstrual cups to washable pads to period underwear. Not only do they reduce your monthly footprint, but will save you a ton of money in the long run.
Transportation: If you have access to a subway, train, trolley, or shuttle these are great methods of transportation that drastically reduce your carbon footprint. Walking or biking are also great alternatives to a drive, and can help keep you healthy as well!
Beeswax food wrap: cut down on cling wrap or ziplocks with reusable food wraps! These fabric based wraps allow you to store food free of single use plastic. You can also make them yourself if you have any extra fabric on hand (check out this how-to)
Toilet paper: While most of us might not be ready to commit to reusable toilet paper (though it is available through many zero waste stores, if you want to explore) you might be interested in Who Gives A Crap, an Australian B-corp that will deliver plastic free rolls right to your door.
Composting: An age old way to cut down on your food waste, check out the EPAs guide to composting here and composting bin options here.
Solid shampoo/conditioner: An easy way to reduce plastic waste, solid shampoos and conditioner are low waste and great for travel. Check out this guide to find the best for your hair type.
Reusable cotton swab: If you are an avid cotton swab user, consider switching to a reusable option. The Last Object, a Danish company, also has reusable cotton rounds and tissues available.
Bring your Own Mug/Jar: Most coffee shops will let you bring a tumbler or even mason jar to your local cafe to grab coffee. Bonus: Some cafes will offer you a discount if you do this. This one is a super easy habit once you remember to keep your clean container on you.
Reusable grocery bags: This one is easy, but often forgotten! Bring reusable bags to the grocery store with you or repurpose old bags from a previous trip. Once you get in the habit of bringing them, it is an easy way to help reduce pollution.
Make your own products! This one can be fun. Though it may seem like a lot of work, it can be something fun to do on the weekend, with kids, or for gifts! You can make your own lip scrub, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant and so much more. Oftentimes this can actually be cheaper than buying the product at the stores! One of the best things about this, you know exactly what the ingredients are and where they came from. Not to mention, it can all go in cute glass jars. Snow day? Make yourself some shampoo! Valentine's day coming up with low funds? Make a DIY lip scrub! Sick of makeup products with parabens and things you cannot pronounce? Make yourself some you know is good for you! Try to get things that come in glass containers or less plastic than what you would buy if you just purchased the product. This is fun, simple, affordable, and sustainable!
Avoid food (especially fruits and vegetables) wrapped in plastic. This can be a very difficult or very easy change. Or at times when you want to buy organic, it is wrapped, so you have to choose between plastic wrapped or grown with chemicals you may not be comfortable with. I have left the grocery store without several things I hoped to get because I couldn't get it without a lot of plastic or chemicals involved. This is a great reason to go to local farm stands and markets which brings me to your next point.
Shop Local. I’m telling you, this can be one of the best things you can do. Buying local means the food didn’t travel many miles to reach you, thus having a carbon footprint.Buying local also circulates the local economy, which supports your community.
Shop in Season. Look up seasonal recipes. When you buy food that is seasonal to your area it also has traveled less to get to you. You can find great new recipes by doing this. So maybe the pumpkin spice latte crowd was onto something after all.
Mindful consumption. Ask yourself a few questions the next time you go shopping. Do I need this? Is it high quality enough to last a while? Is it made of natural fibers or plastic? Where was it made? Was it produced ethically? Does this company have sustainable practices?
Secondhand. There are many ways to do this, and important factors to consider. This is an affordable, accessible way for people to shop consciously. Donated clothing that may otherwise end up in a landfill can go in your closet. It is important to shop at thrift and consignment stores to keep them open and accessible to those who couldn’t afford to buy clothes first hand. That being said, if you have the means but want to buy secondhand be sure to leave warm winter items if you are able to buy them full price. These are hard to come by and essential to people with low income or those that are homeless or in between housing. Furthermore, only buy what you need and will wear from a thrift store. Thrift stores often donate profits so your dollars are well spent there. They have overhead expenses that your purchases can help pay to keep it open for everyone.