9 easy and actionable steps anyone can take toward more sustainable living. Not only can we improve our impact on the environment, society, and health, but also our happiness!
I know I'm not the only one who wishes they were more conscious about living more sustainably. But we don't have to "wish". We can take simple easy actions to move toward living a more sustainable life! As I said, these can be small simple things, but sometimes those can make the greatest impact. Here's a secret; leading a more sustainable ("green") life, isn't just good for the environment, society, and your own physical health, but also your HAPPINESS! According to the Renewable Living Survey conducted by Tetra Pak in the US and Canada, 70% of people feel happier when they make more renewable lifestyle choices (things as simple as using reusable water bottles).
I think we all want to be as happy as possible along with being more sustainable! So Tetra Pak created a large scale renewable living social experiment to raise awareness and give people easy ways to start living more sustainably! They recited 10 bloggers to complete their challenge over 28 days to show the world that you can create sustainable habits that are easy and will last! They gave me the challenge to complete these 5 tasks listed below and share my thoughts. I didn't stop there though and I delved into a few more areas that I felt were important (and I think you will too!)
1. When grocery shopping, choose food & beverage products with renewable packaging. Cans and plastic, not so eco-friendly. For instance, canned tomatoes. Tetra Pak created sustainable packaging for companies and manufacturers to use, like the tomato cartons above, that reduces that problem! Companies are beginning to switch to more renewable packaging, like Hunt's, and you'll start seeing this more and more as you shop. I love using canned tomatoes, so now that I can buy them in a biodegradable carton, I'm all for it! That's a pretty easy sway. don't you think?
2. Take shorter showers. I've actually started doing this a few years ago. When I was younger I would be in the shower for practically 40 minutes! But Over the years, I just don't have time for that! 10 minutes, in and out and I'm good to go! Considering my shower doesn't even have hot water half the time, it isn't uncommon for me to take a 3 minutes fastest-shower-possible, just so I don't freeze to death! But hey, it's a great easy way to safe water!
3. Walk or bike whenever possible. Depending on where you live, this could be super easy or a little more difficult. When I'm away at school in the city, walking every where is pretty easy (essential)! I know I feel happy when I go for walks and when that's your primary mode of transportation you get some great physical activity, mediation, no gas pollution, and total happiness! However, when I'm home in rural NJ, walking places isn't an option, nor is biking. That's when it's good to do things like carpool, go to all the places you need in one trip, etc.
4. Swap your paper coffee cup for a mug. This one was easy for me as well, since I brew at home and use my favorite Copco mug! But if you're going to Starbucks everyday before work, those cups add up where it would be much simpler to get a reusable one! You usually get a few cents off your order too! Not only coffee cups, but reusable water bottles are important as well. Being away at college, that has to happen. But when I'm home plastic water bottles are much more prevalent, so I still need to work on that one (hello Brita)!
5. Take the Tetra Pak Happiness Quiz. This quick 5 question quiz let's you know how "happy" your current sustainable living actions are making (or not) making you! I got Bountiful Bliss, which means the actions I'm taking (and trying to still implement) are putting me on the right track for ultimate happiness! You can take the quiz here and see you're results!
6. Use reusable bags when grocery shopping. This is the first of 4 of my own tasks I decided to implement! This one is so super easy and I shame myself for using so many plastic bags at the grocery for years! I've accumulated tons of nice reusable bags over the years, so now I'm making sure I use them! In DC you actually have to pay and extra 5 cents for plastic bags, so I got into the habit there of bringing my own bags anytime I shop (not just for food!)
7. Stop using paper plates and reduce paper towel use. So I recently ran out of paper plates and now I refuse to buy anymore. First, why waste the money when I can use a normal plate? Second, it really is a waste! I didn't use paper plates much anyway, so it was pretty easy to simple grab a ceramic plate when needed and rinse it off when done! Very easy and eco-friendly! For paper towels, well that's another story. This is the biggest one I still need to work on. When I'm cooking or just garbing a snack, by the end of the day I've probably used WAY more paper towels than needed. It's bad. Some solutions to keep that in check? Use the salad spinner, let things drain, use reusable towels for whipping things off. Still a work in progress here...majorly!
8. Use the bulk bins. I love the bulk bins! The amount of nuts and seeds I go through, it only makes sense. This way I can use all the glass jars I have and store these bulk foods in a super sustainable way, with the amounts I need, and have the added bonus of making the pantry look pretty! Why "pay for plastic" and maybe even more of an ingredients than you need, when you can skip the packaging all together, use your own, and only take what you need!
9. Use every scrap of food. Don't waste a thing! By now you know how big of a proponent I am for reducing food waste. Give me the ugliest misshaped foods, the stems and skins, give me it all! I hate seeing people waste food. If you can't finish something you've made, freeze it! If you have a bunch of carrot top greens, make some burgers! Think you can't eat the skin on your mango? Think again! It's the best part (same with kiwis!) No matter what I try to find a use for each and every bit of food. It also helps you get a little more creative when cooking and thinking up a way to use everything. You may even want to try making your own products like, gluten-free oat flour, ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, jam, even plant-based milk!
These small and simple actions can make a huge impact if we all work on implementing them into our lives! I challenge you to take Tetra Pak's sustainable challenge (as well as the challenges I added), and see if you can make these happy habits a part of your life too!
So tell me:
+ What sustainable/renewable actions do you want to work on?
+ What actions do you already take?
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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.