No one is perfect. We can't all be living our most sustainable lives all the time, because frankly, life would be a lot more complicated. Sustainability can be time-consuming and something we guiltily avoid talking about, because there's a fear of being called out for the little things in our lives that we're all guilty of doing.
But there are little practices and habits that we can build into our routines that won't take up our whole day, will make a difference to our consumption and can help us feel a little better about doing our part for the planet. Even doing 3 or 4 of these options can make all the difference in your consumer habits and drive real change.
The less transport required for your food, the better! Not only is it good to cut out the transport pollution involved in the travel, but it also means that your food has traceability and a freshness that can’t be beat! Check out the fresh produce in some of the small green grocers near you – that way you’ll be supporting a small enterprise and probably local families too. This extends beyond just food – local boutiques, crafters and designers need your support too. If we want unique places with quality, handcrafted products, or something different form all the big chains, the we need to support them.
Buy less/Choose well
The consumer is only valuable if they’re always unsatisfied – and the best way to ensure that? Keep changing what is considered stylish. By buying into that endless trend cycle we fuel a vicious circle that seeks to make us buy more and more things that we don’t really need. Make your purchases count, buying quality items that will last rather than fickle, fashionable items that won’t be on trend in a month’s time. It’s tempting, especially if you’re a fashionista, but loving clothing should be about building your style – something lasting, your signature looks, rather than following what everyone else is wearing. The same things applies with household items – the things you invest in are generally ones that will last.
When you’re about to run to the nearby shop because you’ve run out of milk, or your meeting a friend for coffee a few blocks away and you pick up your car keys on the way out, ask yourself…do I need to drive? It sounds small, but cutting out a journey or two a week can build up over time to really make a difference. Or if you’re living on a public transport line that connects with your workplace, getting that instead of driving a morning or two will cut back on fuel costs as well as being good for the environment!
Bring reusable bags
This is one that lots of us have started doing, but there are times that we forget to bring them along which is always frustrating. A handy way to try remember is to have your reusable shopping bags in the boot of your car or a small linen one rolled up in your handbag so that it's easy to pack away.
Glass containers/Store food without plastic
Reusable food bags, recycled glass jars, glass containers – all more durable and sustainable options! There’s even biodegradable ‘plastic’ wrap available nowadays! It’s just a case of shopping around investigating a little to inform your choices and getting creative with your storage.
Bring travel cups
It’s coming up to lunch time, you get that caffeine craving and all you want to do is run out to the nearest coffee cart and put in your order. Now imagine you produce your own travel cup, cutting back on those Styrofoam, plastic-y cups that just end up making your bin overflow and the office stink of old coffee! A super simple but really effective way to cut back on waste.
Lower washing machine temperature
By changing the temperature on your washing machine from hot even just down to warm, you can make a huge difference to your environmental impact. Your clothes will be just as clean, there’s less chance you’ll shrink them and they’ll last longer too! While you’re at it, investing in a clothes line or clothing horse is another great way to have your laundry routine be less impactful on the environment. In our country, the weather isn’t always good enough to dry our clothes outdoors, but when it is, think of all the electricity you’ll save by not using the dryer and how much fresher your clothes will smell!
Think of all the plastic bottles lined up in your bathroom right now; shampoos, conditioners, body washes, body scrubs, colour protecting shampoo, cleansers, exfoliators…and then think about how many times you have to replenish that each year. The waste from all of us doing this is insane, so a great way to stop hat overconsumption in its tracks is to invest in some bar shampoo and conditioner. Garnier have a great range that caters for every hair type and has all the nutrients your hair needs to look its best without compromising the planet.
Like we mentioned before, it’s important to buy well – and that doesn’t always mean buying new. Thrift shops and charity shops are experiencing a revolution in the way they are run and who is shopping with them. Often, the items you’re looking for – a flouncy summer skirt or a thick winter coat – are available at your local thrift stores for half the price and still in very good condition. And there’s no excuse these days to say its untrendy or inconvenient, because we’ve all seen how styles from the 90s have come back again, which thrift stores are full of, There’s also amazing new services and swap shops like Thriftify and Big Sister Swap that allow you to shop and swap fashionable clothing and have it delivered straight to your door.
Talk about and exchange ideas about low impact living
If we don’t talk to one another, we don’t learn form one another! I’ve learned so many things from friends about their sustainability habits, like the bar shampoo and glass containers that have changed that part of my lifestyle. And equally, they’ve learned from me about sustainable clothing and beauty options that they’ve incorporated into their routines. No one is perfect and can do everything, but talking to each other encourages us to try new ideas and find new ways to live more sustainably.
Reusable cotton pads
I think a lot of us long ago ditched the makeup wipes that we were shocked and horrified to learn in the mid 2010s were actually bad for our skin – after years of using them. But now that we’re all using the much gentler cotton pads for our makeup removal, we’re noticing our waste from this activity is still just as high, especially given we have to use a few pads to remove all our foundation and eye makeup. And the option of a face cloth is way too harsh for our delicate skin. Using things like linen face cloths and reusable cotton pads that are available in most pharmacies is an amazingly sustainable and face-friendly option for guilt-free makeup removal with none of the waste!