5 Easy Swaps for a Greener Lifestyle

Barbara Kelly — 07/26/2017

I believe strongly in the notion of leading by example, and that a group of individuals acting together have great power to enact change. As you make these easy swaps, the people in your life will take note and maybe even adopt a few changes themselves, leading to a much bigger impact on the environment than you originally imagined.

1. Reusable bags instead of plastic

This is such a simple switch! If you want to up your game, try also replacing plastic produce bags with reusable mesh ones, and buy your food packaging free as much as possible.

2. Reusable water bottle instead of plastic

Another easy switch. Not only are you saving plastic, but you are saving on the enormous waste of fossil fuels in transporting water by truck over vast distances. And you will save a ton of money! You will also most likely stay better hydrated, which is great for your health!

3. Coffee

Did you know that the creator of the Keurig says he regrets ever inventing it? The individual pods are disposable and non-recyclable. Try opting for less wasteful way to prepare coffee, like using a french press. And when visiting cafes like Starbucks, bring your own to-go container for them to prepare your drink in.

4. Choose the vegetarian option

Did you know that it takes 2,400 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat? In comparison, 1 pound of grain can be grown using only 25 gallons of water. You can actually save more water by not eating a pound of meat, than you can by not showering for six months.

If that statement alone doesn’t convince you to opt for vegetarian options, consider that 1/3 of the planet’s arable land is occupied by livestock animals and their feed crops. It is estimated that 70% of Brazil’s deforested land is being used for this purpose.

5. Buy Second Hand

The recent trend towards whats known as “fast fashion” is devastating to the environment and the lives of the people producing our garments in other countries. Although you may regularly donate last seasons items to stores like goodwill, only about 20% of these items wind up being sold.

When you buy your clothing second hand, you can feel great about buying new clothing items. Buying things second hand also make’s it easy and affordable to make the ethical decision. You are saving an item from going to a landfill, and you don’t need to worry about how it was produced.

When you buy clothing second-hand, you are creating a cyclical economy instead of linear one. You can also find many of the items you are looking for to make your life zero-waste for a very low price at the thrift store, such as reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and mason jars!

Once you make these easy swaps a part of your daily routine, you may find yourself inspired to limit your waste in more ways. I hope that in adopting these changes, you will begin to examine your own consumption habits and think about the environmental and social impacts of the things you consume in your every day life.

The most important power you hold is in your pocket. Capitalism serves one purpose, to make as much money as possible, leading to the exploitation of people and the environment globally. For this reason it is important to spend your money only on products that reflect your green and socially conscious values.

If you want to make an even bigger impact, I highly suggest the following documentaries which explore various environmental, social justice, and sustainability issues. These are both available for free on Netflix.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014) — Explores the effect the meat industry has on the environment.

The True Cost (2015) — Explores the social justice issues in the fashion industry