You don’t have to believe in climate change to behave more sustainably. The thing skeptics don’t understand about climate change believers is that more than anything, we just want people and corporations to reconsider their consumption habits. Behaving in a more sustainable fashion leads to overall better air quality, cleaner roads, less waste, and less money wasted, which we can all agree would be beneficial to all.
For example, limiting usage of single use plastics and investing in something as simple as a reusable bottle will save you sevenfold because you no longer have to buy a water bottle every time you're thirsty out in public. Or if you throw a party and make people write their names on their red solo cup, you limit the amount of cups wasted from drunk people forgetting where they left their red solo and getting a new one. These minor changes don’t seem like much at first, but they make a great difference in minimizing single use plastic going to landfills. As consumers, we have power in our purchasing decisions to support companies that are genuinely concerned with public well-being, as well as the power to buy into things that support circular economy behavior (Link to what circular economy even is.)
Below I compiled a list of various ways to be more sustainable that require the minimal amount of effort. I divided them into categories based on the amount of change and effort required. You can start with small changes in your everyday behavior, while working on taking initiative with bigger changes over time.
Every Day Behavior
1.) Using less napkins.
It’s such a bad habit to wash your hands and use over 10 napkins to dry just meager hand-washing. Using less napkins during handwashing is such a simple concept that makes a huge impact over time because you’re minimizing the amount of paper that is getting wasted. Or cut out napkins completely by switching to air dryers and hand towels
2.) Carry a reusable water bottle.
I witness so many people buying water bottles daily which I know adds up over time. Carrying your own water bottle not only saves you money but also seriously reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans.
3.) Taking the stairs rather than the elevator.
This is a simple concept which brings so many benefits because not only will you be minimizing a building’s energy consumption, but you are also forcing yourself to be a bit more active.
4.) When throwing a party, make people write their names on their single use cups.
I am the type of person who likes to be everywhere and in everything at parties which my solo red cup is unequipped to handle and often gets left behind. Forcing people to write their names on their cups reduces confusion of cup ownership. This easy tip also ends up saving the party thrower a bunch of time and effort when it comes to cleaning up.
1.) Thrifting for clothes instead of buying a new outfit.
So many unique clothes are in perfectly good condition at thrift stores waiting to be bought. Thrifting for clothes not only saves you money but it saves space in landfills and diverts less money going into the harmful fast fashion industry (Link explaining what exactly fast fashion is.)
2.) Buying produce at the grocery store that isn’t in extra casing.
Fruit and vegetables evolved to have natural casing so the excess plastic packaging they are put in are just wasteful. Choosing to buy your greens package free discourages more money supporting irresponsible producers. You can also choose to buy from local farmer’s markets or more eco-friendly grocery stores that let you bring your own reusable packaging.
3.) Use compostable toothbrushes.
So many toothbrushes when discarded are just thrown in a landfill where they are left to take up space until they degrade thousands of years from now. Using bamboo toothbrushes limits the amount of plastic thrown out and supports eco friendly
companies (Link to buy).
4.) Carry your own silverware instead of using single use plastic.
The same principle applies to using your own silverware. Being someone that carries around your own silverware saves you time from having to ensure plastic silverware was given to you when you get take out.It also saves the amount of plastic waste being discarded. Take out silverware is a huge, silent polluter that is clogging up landfills (Link to video that explains take out food implications). Link to buy.
1.) Turning food scraps into compost by dropping them off a collection site or having a service that does it for you.
Composting prevents organic food from taking up real estate in landfills and instead be repurposed into new soil. However, I know as a busy person it can be hard to maintain a compost bin in your own home. So instead, you can just collect it in a bin in your freezer and drop it off to a local composting location. Or if it's within your budget, get a company to come and pick it up for you.
2.) Using reusable bags and keeping them in your car.
It’s time to be honest with ourselves and admit that using plastic bags is so old fashioned. Not only is it harmful to other animals, but it makes streets look visually less appealing because of the littering issue they impose. Using reusable bags limits litter and potential animal harm. Keeping reusable bags in your car is a great way of remembering to use them, since they’re always with you.
3.) Grow some of your own herbs instead of buying them.
As someone who recently started gardening, I can say it's such a fun and simple hobby that is beneficial in multitudes of ways. Not only will you have the potential to ingest organic herbs and learn a new skill, but you will add visual appeal to your home by adding more green. Link with herb ideas to get your started.
In conclusion, as a society we need to reconsider our consumption habits and think about how we can be in a space without taking space. Becoming more sustainable doesn’t have to stem from believing in climate change or be a political issue, but the desire can simply come from wanting to live in an overall cleaner world. For the sake of our future generations, we need to treat climate change not as an ideology to believe in, but rather humanity’s reconsideration of the kind of impact we want to have on our natural world.
Other sources that have more tips: