We interrupt our regularly scheduled Weekend Reads to talk specifically about Earth Day this week.
When I was living in Upstate New York I made a ton of progress in reducing our waste and shifting towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Albany is a progressive, little city and made it relatively easy for me to do so. Not to mention, there was a killer food co-op close to our house that I miss dearly. And I also had some good friends who were already miles ahead of me for inspiration.
I haven’t found my hometown in the ‘burbs quite as conducive to getting crunchy as I’d hoped. Though I have been rather distracted lately.
So as Earth Day approached this year, and I’ve gotten into a groove with this whole motherhood thing, I wanted to shift my focus back toward treading a bit lighter on Mamma Earth.
Here are a few ways Bridget and I try to do so:
1. Reading up…
I don’t want to get into politics here, arguing with extended family members and people from high school with differing political views is what Facebook is for. But, in our current climate (at least here in the U.S.), I think now, more than ever, it’s important to be informed. Facts matter. Here are a few books I plan to queue up on my Kindle:
- The Age of Consequences: A Chronicle of Concern and Hope
- Cadillac Desert: The American West and It’s Disappearing Water
- Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future
- The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World
- Silent Spring
- A Sand County Almanac
- Tipping Point for Planet Earth: How Close Are We to the Edge?
2. Replacing single use with reusable as much as possible.
This is a super accessible way to get started reducing our footprint. The cost is relatively low and the possibilities are nearly endless. Here a few things we’re already swapping or plan to start swapping in the near future.
- Kleen Kanteen or S’well instead of plastic water bottles.
- Reusable coffee mug instead of disposable, and instead of the absurdly wasteful Keurig, or even a regular pot with disposable filters, we use an AeroPress with a steel filter for single serve. And an insulated french press for more than one cup.
- Reusable grocery and produce bags vs. plastic disposable ones at the grocery store.
- Decline a shopping bag for any purchases I can carry out of the store without.
- Wrapping presents with newspaper or a simple bow vs. buying wrapping paper.
- Using cloth napkins and kitchen towels vs. paper towels and napkins.
- Finding menstrual product alternatives like Thinx and what not.
- Swapping disposable razors for an all metal safety razor.
- Replacing saran wrap with beeswax food wrap.
- Replacing cotton balls and pads with reusable makeup remover pads.
- Using stainless steel straws vs. plastic ones.
3. Buying less, choosing well and making it last when it comes to clothes.
The past 14 months have been an odd time for me and my clothes. Most of what I had didn’t fit me and I didn’t have a lot of luck finding affordable, non-fast-fashion maternity clothes. But now that my body is slowly meandering back toward its pre-pregnancy size, I’m trying to break my habit of impulse purchases and move back toward fewer, better things and away from fast-fashion. It’s not an easy feat when you’re cheap like I am.
If you haven’t read Overdressed or seen The True Cost, I highly suggest you check them out. The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest, most ruthless polluters. One huge step we can all take is to try to buy less and choose better. More and more brands are popping up every day that keep the environment (and human rights) in mind while producing their clothes. And don’t forget that vintage and secondhand shopping is always the most eco-friendly choice.
There are a lot of other things we can do to reduce our footprints as well:
- Walk, ride a bike, carpool or take public transportation.
- Line dry our clothes.
- Make our own cleaning and beauty products.
- Buy compostable phone cases.
- Shop in bulk and bring our own jars and containers.
- Shop seasonally and locally by frequenting farmers markets, joining a CSA or food co-op.
- Eat less meat.
- Start composting.
- Follow fantastic sites like Trash is for Tossers and Reading My Tea Leaves for slow-living and eco-friendly inspiration. And following EWG for all things healthier (for us, and the environment).
Obviously this is not a definitive list, and we are far from perfect but, it’s what I have for now. What about you? Do you have any suggestions for how we can all give the Earth a little hug this year? Leave us a comment below!