It’s the last day of January 2019… how are those resolutions coming along? For my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to take my sustainable living to the next level by developing some of the changes I already made in 2018, incorporating new ones, and sharing my journey on this platform so that it can benefit others.
In my journey of about 2 years, I have come to learn that sustainable living requires both research and effort because it is a shift from the “normal” way of life that majority of us are habituated to. Although, now we can see the sustainable lifestyle trending in some parts of the world, there are many who continue to follow old habits or they live in an area that does not have certain sustainable tools available.
So for this year, you can start with these 10 simple swaps that will not impact your daily routine in any drastic way but will definitely impact the environmental and social welfare of our world.
1. Recycle, Not
The first rule to living sustainably that majority of us are aware of but take for granted is to reduce, reuse and recycle. You will be surprised how much “junk” can actually be avoided altogether at the time of purchase or reused with a functional or creative purpose. Recycling should be thought of as a last resort to the other 2 steps but is still highly important because it will reduce trash that ends up at your local landfill. So please do a quick research online to locate recycling centres in your area and start sorting the materials rather than trashing them.
2. Reusable Totes / Bags
In many metropolitan cities around the world reusable bags have long ago been made a priority by banning plastic bags. However, if that’s not the case in your city (which it is for me, living in Brasília) you can still carry your own reusable bag or handmade tote with you. Keep one in your purse/backpack and in the car so that way you don’t have to think twice when you’re out and about shopping.
3. Natural / Compostable Scrubs
Instead of using a plastic brush or those disposable scrubbers with sponges, you can opt for a naturally made scrubber that can be composted rather than trashed. Here in Brazil, it’s easy to find this sort of scrubber because it’s actually 100% vegetable that can be grown in your garden! This type of scrubber is multipurpose, so I generally use one for washing dishes and another one as a loofa or body scrub in the shower.
Of course if you can’t find something like this in your area, there should be other natural scrubs available in the market made from walnut fibres, bamboo, and so on.
4. Up-cycle Glassware
Glass is such a great material because it can be reused multiple times for various different things! All of my spice containers are up-cycled jam and jelly containers. My husband and I also like to buy grape juice in glass bottles which we later reuse for storing water in the fridge or other homemade juices. You can also be creative with glassware by decorating it and using as a vase for flowers or plants around the home. There are endless options with glass…never need to get rid of it!
5. Reusable Cloths, Not
This one is a major change I made last year. Coming from Canada, I was very habituated to using paper towels for cleaning, picking up spills… and I’m sure for so much more but can’t recall anymore since I’ve limited the use… which is a great feeling. 🙂
Paper towels and kleenex are probably the most single use waste in the household! This can easily be swapped for reusable cloths. When we first moved to our home last year, I purchased a package of microfibre cloths to use for cleaning, which have been working amazingly great. However, a few months after I found out that when washed the microfibre clothes actually release micro-plastics that creates toxic waste for marine-life. So, I’d suggest to go with natural cloths or reuse old cotton t-shirts.
6. Freeze Food Scraps
Instead of throwing out food scraps such as carrot shreds, broccoli stems, potato peels (you get the idea)… you can freeze them and later make vegetable broth. I tend to make bone broth a lot. So I will save all the bones from our meals and freeze them until I get a full container to make the broth. Homemade broth is so much healthier than store bought because it doesn’t have any preservatives and is high in its nutrients.
7. Lifetime Safety Razor
Simple swap that can be passed on in generations. Ditch the disposable razors and blades and opt for a solid stainless steel razor that will last you more than a lifetime. All you need to do is buy a pack of blades once a year. Totally hassle-free and so good for our environment.
8. Non-Toxic Products
I can write a whole new blog post just on toxic products that contain harmful chemicals like SLS. But for now, I’ll keep it simple by saying to just opt for products that contain natural ingredients and are as chemical-free as possible. Search for natural soaps, shampoos, cleaning products around you. There’s bound to be something available even if you don’t have Whole Foods in your country.
9. Utensils On-the-Go
My husband and I both carry this little pouch that contains a fork, a butterknife and a spoon in our bags all the time. Again, eliminate the use of single-use waste like plastic utensils from restaurants. We found ours at a camping store but you can even just carry a set from your kitchen if you can’t find a compact one near you.
10. (Always, always, always…) Carry Your Bottle.
And last but not the least, carry your water bottle with you on the go. I think we’ve come a long way in the last 10-12 years when it comes to water bottles. But even though many of us own a reusable water bottle, we tend to leave home without it and end up buying water when in need. So just always remember to carry your bottle with you even if you’re just going out for a casual walk.
I hope these simple swaps will come in use for you this year and you do not feel intimidated to start living sustainably. Happy New Year!
Peace & Love as always ♥