It’s almost Earth Day, and to celebrate I wanted to share some things I’ve been working on to reduce my waste and make more eco-friendly choices. If you’re new here, check out my original post of 4 Things You Can Do to Help Our Planet first for some more simple ideas, and then come back here if you’re ready to make a bigger impact.
These are things I’ve just started doing recently because change takes time. It’s hard to unlearn a whole life lived where we’re used to constantly disposing of things. It’s weird to realize that the choices that we’ve been making, that the world continues to make, may be massively hurting our planet. And therefore, hurting the living life on it, including us.
So, here are some bigger steps I’ve been taking to reduce my footprint and I hope they inspire you to do the same!
1. Analyze Your Trash
This may sound really strange, but when I began to look at what I was throwing out and recycling, I started seeing where I needed to make real change. I noticed how much plastic was coming from my grocery shopping so I started making change there. I also realized how much was food scraps and how easily that could be fixed by composting. And, I realized how many products I had gathered over the years that resulted in a lot of empty plastic bottles and tubes.
Taking a hard look at what I was throwing out led me to take some of the following actions below!
2. Buy in Bulk and Find Loose Produce (when you can)
This is something I really got into the past year. I started realizing all the plastic bags and containers I had from food and tried to figure out how to reduce that. I started exploring the bulk section in Earthfare and while I admit I was intimidated at first, I quickly got the hang of it. Now I really try to get certain things there when I can so I can skip the plastic container and just fill up a cotton bag or mason jar with whatever I need.
I’m also trying to skip plastic when I buy produce as well. This can be a little harder though if the loose produce is more expensive then a large bag. So, I compromise and do what I can. I have to be able to afford what I’m buying so sometimes I’ll buy loose produce and other times I’ll get everything at Aldi to save money. I think that it’s most important to be mindful and realize our consumption.
One thing that helps this time of year is stopping by farmer’s markets or signing up for a CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture” where a farmer gives you a box a week of seasonal produce). I love going to markets and being able to talk to the people who grew the food. We’re trying out our first CSA this year and I’m excited to see how it goes!
3. Start Composting
This one is a lot easier than you think. I recently went to a free composting class hosted by Asheville Greenworks and quickly learned that you don’t need much to start your own compost pile. Just a few stakes and some wire from your local Lowes and you’re good to go! I personally don’t plan to use this compost for gardening yet, but am hoping to do that in the future.
The important thing I learned is that you need to have a balance of Browns (wood, mulch, brown leaves, paper, sawdust) and Greens (food waste, green leaves, grass) so that it breaks down properly. Aerating it and turning the pile can help decomposition as well. The only things you don’t want to include are animal products (with the exception of egg shells), oils, or hard to kill plants that could take over the pile. I’ll see how my new set up goes and I’ll share that on here later!
If that seems like too much, there are companies that will take your compost and turn it into soil. I know here we have Compost Now which sounds like a really easy way to compost if you’re living in an apartment or can’t commit to making a compost pile of your own.
4. Opt for Sustainable Packaging
As I mentioned above, when I took a good look at my trash, I realized all of the little bottles and tubes that I had accumulated from various products. That stuff adds up over time. And whenever I would do a bathroom purge, I was at a loss with all of the plastic I had to get rid of. Not to mention, I recently learned that recycling doesn’t have as big of a positive impact as we like to think it does so, it really should be a last resort.
After realizing this, I’ve now become more aware of the types of products I’m buying. I discovered Zuzu bronzer a while back which has refills so, the only thing you dispose of each time is the small metal insert. I’ve also recently become obsessed with Stasher Bags that make it really easy to skip the ziplock bag because they work way better!
I recently also discovered some great natural chapstick at WARE that is created by River Organics, a company based right out of NC! Their chapstick and other beauty products are packaged in paper and cardboard instead of plastic. I’ve also invested in bar shampoos instead of bottled because it is so much less packaging and not to mention, way easier to travel with. Little switches like this can make a huge difference and I’m excited to see companies who are supporting these types of changes!
5. Get Back to Basics
As I’ve been on this journey, I’ve realized how often the switches I’m making go back to the “old way” of doing things. Instead of reaching for a paper towel, I’m reaching for a cloth. Instead of tossing a sweater when it gets a hole, I’m taking the time to sow it. Instead of buying tons of cleaning products for various things, I’m making my own out of simple ingredients.
It really is funny to think how not long ago people would buy a coke and have to pay a small deposit for the bottle. People would then make sure to return the bottle to get their deposit back. The US shifted from a culture of simplicity and thriftiness in the 1930s to one of consumerism in the 50s that still very much continues today.
At the same time, we see people craving minimalism and listening to records and even dressing how people did decades ago. It’s as if people are craving a simpler time where we mended clothes before buying new ones and where we take the time to listen to a record instead of sitting in front of the tv.
It’s exciting to see people wanting to make a change. Just by having these conversations we are making such an impact.
I’m excited to see where we go from here.
PS. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m doing a giveaway on Instagram to celebrate Earth Day and to help inspire others to make more sustainable choices! Head to my Instagram to enter and leave a comment below for an extra entry! Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22nd.