Sustainability in Your Day to Day Life — A beginners guide to sustainable living
We partnered with Bel Georgieva, an environmental warrior and aspiring minimalist 💪, to share her thoughts on how we can all start to introduce more sustainable strategies into our daily lives.
Bel discusses the impact sustainability can have on the planet. She has also put together recommendations on useful resources, places to visit and products that can help you improve your sustainability.
Visit the Bel’s project for Zero-Waste.
There are 3 main types of sustainability:
- And environmental.
Today we will be talking about the latter and how to achieve it in our day to day lives.
Environmental Sustainability can be defined as ‘a state in which the demands placed on the environment can be met without reducing its capacity to allow all people to live well, now and in the future’. (Financial Times, n.d.)
In simpler words, it’s living in a way that won’t kill or damage our planet.
And everybody wants that, right? So naturally, the next step is to align our intentions with our actions 🌎
Sustainability is something we are all responsible for and something we all benefit from. Not only in the long run, by ensuring that we have a healthy, thriving planet, but also by saving ourselves money. Yes, you read that right, investing in some zero-waste essentials can indeed save you money in the long run!
While there are many different ways to be more sustainable, this article will focus mainly on plastic and the unnecessary waste we produce in our day to day life.
The war on plastic
Unless you live in a pineapple under the sea (well actually, even then), you have probably heard about the raging war against plastic. But why do people hate plastic so much?
Isn’t it a wonderful invention that has been making our lives easier for decades? That fact is undeniable. Plastic is convenient, it is cheap, it is versatile, but it is also non-biodegradable, meaning, it never fully disappears from our planet. It breaks down into smaller pieces for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years, until it turns into microplastic. Microplastic stays on Earth forever.
Scary, right? Now you understand why so many people are trying to live plastic-free. Luckily, that’s actually not as difficult as you may think! Here are some tips on how to limit your plastic usage and give our planet a better chance at surviving:
Your home is where it’s easiest to lower your waste and minimize your impact on the planet. However, it is also where you have the most changes to make so it can seem a bit overwhelming at first. Don’t let that discourage you!
Look at your house in sections, you have your kitchen, your bathroom, your bedroom, your living room, etc. Then choose one section to tackle first and start replacing item after item. Here are some suggestions:
- Buy loose fruit and veg, sauces in glass bottles or tins, pasta and grains from bulk stores
- Make your own (e.g. hummus, salad dressings, granola, etc.)
- Keep old jars and use them when you go to bulk stores, to keep leftovers or to store homemade goodies such as hummus or granola
- Use veggie scraps to make vegetable broth. Just boil potato skins, carrot ends, broccoli stalks etc. and you have a cheap, healthy, additive-free soup base
- Replace paper towels and napkins with tea towels and fabric napkins
- Replace foil and clingfilm with reusable food wraps
- Bring your own canvas bags when you go shopping
- If you don’t have any Tupperware, invest in a stainless-steel set but if you already have some plastic boxes, don’t just throw them away, use them until they break
- Switch to soap and shampoo bars for your hands, body and hair
- Get a reusable safety razor, the blades are recyclable and way cheaper than single use plastic razors
- Switch to a bamboo toothbrush
- Make your own toothpaste, make-up remover, deodorant, skin exfoliants, moisturisers, etc. That way you can choose to buy the ingredients loose or in glass packaging
- Get reusable cotton pads for removing make up or nail polish and paper stick cotton buds
- Choose recycled toilet paper that comes wrapped in paper. My favourite brand is ‘Who Gives A Crap’ as they also donate half of their profits to non-profit organisations working to improve access to hygiene, water and basic sanitation in developing countries
- Switch to a menstrual cup, reusable pads or period underwear
- Wash your clothes with soap nuts — they come in a fabric bag and are 100% natural, therefore super gentle on your clothes and skin (tip: add ~10 drops of lemon oil to the little bag with soap nuts for a refreshing scent)
You can find links and advice on all of these items in my zero-waste project
Out and about
Essentials here will vary based on what you personally use on daily basis.
For example, I rarely drink coffee or tea, so I don’t need a reusable coffee cup (although I’ve been tempted to get this one as it’s so freaking great and made from recycled paper cups!). However, if I ever want a drink, I’ll sit in and enjoy it in a glass/mug.
I also don’t use straws, so I haven’t invested in a reusable one but if you enjoy drinking through a straw, you can choose between metal, glass or bamboo. What I do carry with me and consider my absolute essentials are:
- Bamboo cutlery set
- Water bottle with a charcoal water filter
- Tupperware box (when I know I’ll be eating out)
- A canvas bag in case I go shopping
- A couple of small produce bags for when I really want that Pret cookie or when I’m buying loose vegetables (cashiers don’t tend to be very happy when you dump 13 tiny loose mushrooms on the till)
You can find links to all of these items in my zero-waste project on WONDR
I carry all of the above with me when I’m going to work, to the park or traveling to another city/country. Just these 5 things can help lower your footprint tremendously!
Something to remember is that getting rid of plastic items that can still be used just to replace them with a more environmentally-friendly alternative actually defeats the purpose.
Use them till their absolute last breath before you send them to a landfill.
Also remember that no one is perfect, so don’t beat yourselves up for accidentally using a plastic bag or a single-use cup. It happens to the best of us. And at the end of the day, the intention to do better next time is what really matters!
Be sure to follow Bel on Instagram where she posts about her zero-waste journey for more tips and insights into a life of sustainability!
WONDR is a social platform that supports your interests. WONDR connects you with likeminded people so you can share useful resources and have meaningful discussions to take action in the topics that matter to you.
Currently our community is growing in the environment and sustainability, and we’d love you to become a part of it.