For those who feel overwhelmed by the thought of becoming more sustainable, we are here to ease your mind. Improving sustainability in your everyday life does not have to mean transitioning to a zero-waste lifestyle, but rather making a few changes that will make a difference. This article will show you three simple ways to become more sustainable using little to no effort.
Eliminate Single-Use Plastic
You may think that a few straws won’t make a difference; but think again! What if we told you that in the United States alone we use 500 million plastic straws daily (“Fact Sheet: How Much Disposable Plastic We Use,” 2018)? Now, this decision to invest in a reusable straw doesn’t seem so pointless! Remind yourself to focus on the small wins that will improve your sustainability efforts. For instance, change out single-use plastic straws for a reusable one. For less than $3 you can invest in a collapsible straw that fits nicely in your pocket or purse.
Did you know that we use one trillion single-use plastic bags globally each year (“The Straw Free Campaign”, 2019)? Could you imagine the environmental impact if we all decided to switch to reusable bags? It’s such a small change; however, it will prove to be quite impactful. It’s easy, leave a few reusable bags in your car, so you’re always ready for a spontaneous shopping trip. Small changes such as this will decrease the plastic waste that would otherwise reside in a landfill for hundreds of years (“How Long Does It Take Plastic to Decompose”, n.d.).
Eat What You Buy
Do you over-buy when you go grocery shopping? You are not alone— it’s a common issue that we all face. Try grocery shopping twice a week, thus allowing yourself the opportunity to purchase less food in a single trip. Before you enter the grocery, do yourself a favor and eat a snack. According to an article released in Forbes, grocery shoppers that go to the store on an empty stomach purchase 70% more food than those who snack shortly before entering the market (Ashford, 2015). By mentally preparing yourself to acquire less, you will have a better chance of finishing everything you buy. Space it out and go Sunday night and then again on Wednesday to by your groceries. Before food begins to spoil, you can be sure to either eat it or freeze it.
Every Little Bit Helps
It can be frustrating to go into a store and see nothing but aisles full of single-use plastic products. Just remember, you are new to this sustainable lifestyle; therefore, you shouldn’t expect perfection! Take baby steps and commit to one change per week. Just as Anne-Marie Bonneau said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Always remind yourself that every decision we make will either lead us closer or further away from a sustainable lifestyle. Small sustainability wins will improve the planet for years to come, and it all starts with us.
(2018.). Fact Sheet: How Much Disposable Plastic We Use. Earth Day Network. Retrieved from https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/18/fact-sheet-how-much-disposable-plastic-we-use/
(n.d.). How Long Does It Take Plastic To Decompose? Wonderopolis. https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-long-does-it-take-plastic-to-decompose
(2019). The Be Straw Free Campaign. National Park Services. Retrieved from (https://www.nps.gov/articles/straw-free.htm
Kate Ashford. (2015). Shopping Hungry? You’ll Spend More (Even IF You’re Not Buying Food). Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateashford/2015/02/25/shopping-hungry/#4de5064119dd