Thirty Ways to Get Your Eco On!
I’ve had a few comments, messages and emails lately asking for easy eco-tips to get your green credentials up without having to spend a fortune or move to a commune.
Eco On The Go
- Bring your own shopping bags and use them. Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 10 million new bags being used every day. A reusable shopping bag makes shopping more comfortable (those plastic ones cut into your hands) and result in less waste. While a reusable bag automatically results in less waste it’s manufacturing has it’s own impact. You need to use your reusable bags at least 50 times in order for their environmental benefits to be realised.
- Get some reusable produce bags. Shopping for produce or bulk foods can be made greener by bringing your own produce bags along for the trip. If you don’t want to buy produce bags you can make upcycled ones by following this easy tutorial (as pictured).
- Bring your own coffee cup. Did you know the average take-away coffee cup can’t be recycled? This sends 50,000 single use coffee cups to landfill every 30 seconds! Bringing your own coffee cup along cuts this waste at the source.
- Carry a reusable water-bottle. Bringing your own water bottle with you saves money and the environment. Refill your water bottle and avoid binning single use bottles. You can learn more about single use plastic water bottles and their impact here. Check out this post to build your own Zero Waste kit
- Start conversations. When you are out doing your eco-thing make sure that you start a conversation with people who ask. When you use your own water bottle, bags, produce bags etc. people will ask you about it. Use this as an opportunity to share your passion with them.
- Get a reusable straw. Spend a week being plastic straw aware. Notice how many you see littering the street and how often you are given one while dining out or visiting a bar. Plastic straws are a huge environmental problem that you can solve by bringing your own stainless steel or bamboo straw and saying no to single use. Want advice and inspo? Sign up to The Last Straw.
- Opt out of junk mail. Buy or make a sign for your letterbox and up your eco-kudos with minimal effort. You may also save money because the temptation to buy items from junk mail catalogue will no longer be there!
- Certified organic? If you can’t afford the certified organic price tag shop your farmers markets instead. You can ask the local farmers how produce is grown and often by spray free for a much more budget friendly price. Many farmers can’t afford to certify organic but use more environmental and health friendly farming practices.
- Compost. Around 47% of Australia’s household waste is made up of organic waste like food scraps and garden cuttings. Creating a compost pile, worm farm or by using a bench top composter you can feel smug about putting your bins out for collection less and also stop harmful methane gases escaping landfill as organics decompose in an anaerobic environment.
- Wrap it up. Ditch that horrible plastic wrap by making your own reusable wax wraps, or buying ready made ones (vegans shop here).
- Reduce your meat and dairy. You don’t have to go vegan overnight but reducing your meat and dairy intake is an easy way to save money and reduce carbon and methane emissions and land degradation caused by hard hoofed cattle.
Make friends with plants
- Get a houseplant. Getting a pet houseplant will give you a daily connection with nature. It’s been shown that greenery can boost your mood, and plants have air cleaning properties. Check out this post for more.
- Grow something edible. You can get as extreme as you like with urban gardening but having something as simple as a potted herb of your choice will help keep your costs down and reduce waste (herbs come in annoying plastic wrap at the supermarket).
- Adopt a tree. When you are out in your neighbourhood choose a tree to make friends with. Make sure that every time you walk past the tree you keep note for any litter in the vicinity. Pick up the litter around your tree, say thanks for it’s oxygen producing powers, and feel good for the rest of the day without spending a cent.
- Research community gardens in your neighbourhood. If you can’t find a way to grow your own plants try visiting a community garden for inspiration, workshops or to register for a plot.
- Check your office waste flow. While you might not have the authority to change the whole waste stream for your workplace checking out how things are dealt with and employing at least one waste reduction strategy can really add up over the whole year.
- Choose a eco minded stationery. Nearly everyone buys pens, pencils and paper for work. Why not go for recycled and carbon neutral options. Most recycled options are around the same price as conventional paper. If choosing pens try to find a refillable option to avoid throwing out the pen every time the ink runs out.
- Shut down your computer. When you finish your day at work switch off your computer to save on energy use and carbon emissions. Even a plugged-in power pack for a laptop with no laptop attached to charge can be using energy. Switch off and save!
- Share some eco-friendly treats. Most people aren’t going to want to hear about your eco-friendly mission but bringing in some packaging free treats to share over morning tea can help you share your planet saving mission with co-workers without sounding pushy. This is a great way to show people your values and avoid awkward discussions about why you don’t want to chip in for an office coffee pod machine in the future.
Fashion and style.
- Shop secondhand first. While the secondhand clothing market is fraught with social and environmental issues of it’s own (the global second-hand clothing market, lack of recycling options for end of life garments, and the opportunity cost of having supported an ethical or sustainable designer), it is one of the most cost effective ways to be an eco-fashionista.
- Swap. Get together with your friends and host a swap-shop event. You can check out some details on how to host one here.
- Make do and mend. Check out your closet for items that need repairs. You will often find that it’s your favourites that are on high rotation that need some TLC. It’s WAY cheaper and easier to invest some time and a little cash into fixing favourites than it is to find replacements. Check out this post for garment love tips and this one for DIY repair ideas.
- Rethink and restyle. When it comes down to the crunch there is a good chance that the items or looks you are lusting after in magazine or online are pretty simmilar to things you already own. Check out this week long styling challenge I did to prove this theory to myself.
- Borrow formally or informally. You can either rent an item from an online rental store or a label that offers rental items. Or alternatively you can borrow from friends or family members. I borrow Ged’s stuff all the time and it’s a fun way to mix up your regular outfits.
- Wash infrequently. Believe it or not most clothing doesn’t need to be washed with every wear. Laundering is one of the most energy and water intensive parts of garments lifecycle, so washing only when a garment is visibly dirty or still smelly after a full day of airing in the sun is a good way to reduce your eco footprint and enable your laziness.
- Use green laundry powder. Eco friendly laundry detergents aren’t all that expensive any more. Choose an earth friendly option with recyclable or biodegradable packaging. If you have a bulk food place that doesn’t detergent refills try this option instead! Feeling extra green? Try soap nuts.
- Green your beauty routine. Try to buy beauty items with minimal packaging. It’s usually pretty easy to find soap without a package, and if you are lucky enough to have a bulk food place with refillable shampoo and conditioner within your budget use this option.
- Ditch the disposable. Do you do cotton pads or make up removal wipes? Ditching these for reusable and washable alternatives saves money and the environment. A terry-cloth cotton face towel with a eco-cleanser or an oil cleanse is cheap, washable and compostable.
- Smile often. This sounds like a cop-out but being a friendly, approachable and happy person is far more powerful and memorable than having the fanciest shoes or most impeccable makeup. A smile doesn’t cost a thing and it can make or break a first impression.
- Ask questions. No matter what you choose to buy and where you choose to buy it from asking questions is a must. Some good questions to ask are ‘what it it made from’, ‘where was it made’, ‘what are your factory working conditions’, ‘are there sustainable, environmental, fair trade or charity initiatives’ and ‘is there animal content or testing’.
What are your favourite eco living tips? Got one to add? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.