Hi y’all! Today, I’m reflecting on how my perspective on sustainability has changed over the past year and sharing some of my favorite quick and easy switches to live a more sustainable life.
When I was abroad with Semester at Sea, there was one day when we had to drop anchor off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. According to the bridge, one of our propellors was acting up and we needed a team of divers to come out and inspect what was going wrong. While I never got confirmation that this was the case, the rumor going around the ship was that we sailed through a patch of garbage so dense that it damaged our propellor.
This was a real wake-up call for me. I’d never been opposed to sustainable efforts, but fell into the trap that so many of us fall into: my actions won’t make a difference because I’m only one person. The mere possibility that we’d encountered a garbage patch so dense spurred me into action.
As I’ve learned to make more sustainable and mindful choices, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that no action is too small. You don’t need to live a zero-waste lifestyle or go completely vegan for your sustainable actions to still be valid and important. For example, I really like a particular brand of shampoo and conditioner that is packaged in plastic bottles. However, I don’t have a ton of uses for plastic grocery bags, so I switch to paper or reusables whenever I can. A few small steps are better than no steps at all.
While the upfront cost of some reusable products might seem a little expensive, remember that you’re investing in high-quality products that will last you weeks, months, years longer than disposables. You can also pick and choose what’s most important to you and invest in quality for a product you know you’ll use all the time. Figure out a balance that’s right for you and run with it.
Here are some easy swaps you can make to live a more sustainable life:
TOOTHPASTE TUBE -> BITE TOOTHPASTE BITS
Bite Toothpaste Bits are a switch I recently made and am obsessed with! Pop a tablet in your mouth, chew for a couple seconds, and brush with a wet toothbrush. They get nice and foamy like a regular toothpaste and taste GREAT. I was a little hesitant about the texture, but after the first few uses, it felt completely normal. What I also love is that the purpose of each ingredient is listed out on their website so you know exactly what you’re using. I’ve added the regular bits to my morning routine and use the charcoal bits at night; my teeth are definitely whiter because of it, which is a plus!
PARCHMENT PAPER -> SILICONE BAKING MATS
This is such an easy swap for all my bakers out there! Silicone mats are oven-safe and an awesome replacement for parchment paper. I love these from Target because they’re a little bit sticky and adhere to baking sheets really nicely. I also use them to line my cooling racks so it’s one less dish to clean at the end of the day.
PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES -> HYDROFLASK WATER BOTTLE
Call me basic, but I love a good HydroFlask. They’re high quality, have an awesome warranty policy, and will keep your drinks hot or cold all day long. I’ve had my old faithful purple Hydro for years and years now, and it’s still kicking. Seriously: I’ll fill that sucker up in the morning, hike all across my North Carolina campus for 8+ hours, and it’ll still be cold when I get home. And if you like drinking from a straw, I can’t recommend the flip straw lid enough. For some reason, I always drink more when my water bottle has a straw, so it’s a sneaky way to drink more water as well.
PADS OR TAMPONS -> MENSTRUAL CUP
Stick with me on this one: I love my menstrual cup. I know we’re not supposed to talk about periods or whatever, but I’m saying “screw that” because y’all need to know about this product. I’ve used a Diva Cup for almost a year and will forever sing its praises. Menstrual cups work like a tampon, but you empty them out every 8-12 hours before cleaning and reinserting. They’re also great for traveling because it’s literally the only period product you need since you can wear it 24/7.
PLASTIC BOTTLES OF SOAP -> BLUELAND HAND SOAP
Another recent sustainable swap that I absolutely love! Blueland’s philosophy is that water-based products are often overpriced and expensive to ship when most of us have access to water in our very own homes for much less. To solve this problem, they created tablets that, when dissolved in warm water, create foaming hand soaps and household cleaners. Their starter kits come with a glass bottle for your soap or cleaner and a couple tablets to get you started. As a long-time lover of Bath & Body Works’ foaming hand soap, this was a no-brainer switch for me and I couldn’t love this product more.
That’s all for this post! What are your favorite sustainable switches? What’s advice would you have for someone just starting to make more environmentally conscious decisions?
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