The start of the new year is the perfect time to begin new habits that are more eco-friendly. I’m not going to convince you to do everything at once because it is difficult and stressful but to think of small changes you can do over the course of 2016. I’m all about inspiring lifestyle changes and not “quick fixes.”
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
I started my eco-friendly journey last year when I decided that buying ethically made clothes wasn’t enough, Yes, it was difficult and changed my life, but it wasn’t really helping the planet. Going on secondhand shopping sprees doesn’t help anyone, especially when I was buying clothing I didn’t really love. I decided to take it a step further by being a conscious consumer and only buying clothing with intention. My conscious consumer journey continued and crept into every other facet of my life (i.e. diet, home, beauty products and waste).
2015 was a huge year for my growth as an eco-conscious person, but I’m no where near perfect. Everyday I try to follow the tips below to lessen my impact on the environment. It is important to strive for progress and not perfection because it can and will be stressful.
For the next 4 weeks, I will be sending all of you who signed up for Sotela’s newsletter photos, recipes and worksheets on how I follow these 16 ways to be more eco-friendly that won’t be shared on the blog.
Be More Zero Waste
- Stop Using Disposables
One of the easiest things you can do to start being zero waste is to carry your reusable water bottle, utensils and napkin. These are the items I bring with me every day to be more zero waste during the week.
2. Compost! Stop throwing veggie and fruit scraps away
You would be surprised how much you minimize your waste when you start composting. The idea of composting may feel daunting or gross, but it is easy and odorless when done correctly. Brittany of Sparkle Kitchen breaks down the rules of composting and the different methods you can use. Compost like a boss with this printable worksheet.
Recycling conserves precious resources that are quickly being depleted, saves energy and reduces trash in landfills. Most products will tell you how it can be recycled. Plastic products will have a number on the bottom, which tells you what type of plastic resin was used. Go to your trash company’s website to see which numbers can be recycled.
- Make Your Periods Zero Waste
Ladies, it is time you stop using disposable pads and tampons. First of all, it is made with all kinds of plastic and chemicals that are REALLY bad for you. Secondly, the Diva Cup is easy to use, clean and SO AFFORDABLE. If the cup isn’t for you, check out these other earth friendly alternatives that I know you’ll love.
Be a Conscious Consumer
5. Buy less and with intention – Make Sure it Sparks Joy
If you aren’t ready to make the switch from fast fashion to ethical/eco-friendly fashion, then start by shopping with intention. Be conscious of what you are buying and ask yourself if it is something you need and not just want. Make sure you are investing in quality timeless pieces that can be worn for several years.
Sign up for the newsletter if you want a free worksheet to buy clothing with intention.
6. Buy Ethically Made Clothes
When you buy clothes, do you ever wonder who made them? I know I never thought about the person who made my clothes, how much they were paid and if they have enough to eat. There are thousands of garment workers who are starving even with a job in the garment industry because they simply don’t get paid enough. Start buying clothing from companies that are transparent about their employees’ working conditions or shop secondhand using these tips.
7. Shop Natural Fibers
Synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester and rayon are like plastic and take decades to decompose. With the amount of clothing Americans throw away (about 80 pounds a year), we need to start buying clothing made with fibers that will decompose. Natural fibers such as tencel, modal, organic cotton, silk and alpaca are better for the environment and your skin because they do not have pesticides or harmful chemicals.
8. Reuse or Recycle Old Clothing
Instead of donating or throwing away old clothing, try reusing or recycling. I’ve cut old shirts into rags and have wanted to make dog chew toys with scraps. Check out my Pinterest page for more ideas of how to reuse old clothing! Recycling can be as easy as finding the yellow Planet Aid bins. Find the nearest bin using your zip code.
Rethink What You Put On Your Skin
9. Throw Away Products That Have These Ingredients
The European Union has banned hundreds of hazardous chemicals in beauty products while the United States has only banned 11. Some of the chemicals used in our products are carcinogens and toxic to the reproductive system. These are some of the most common chemicals that you should definitely avoid.
10. Go Natural or Make Your Own
Going natural consists of downsizing your beauty products to only use the few ingredients you really need to get the job done. I’ve completely switched every product in my bathroom to a natural alternative that I’ve either made or bought at a health food store. When I first decided to go natural, I used these products that I bought on Amazon. Since then, I’ve started making my own using coconut oil, baking soda, shea butter and beeswax.
For my lotion, deodorant and toothpaste recipes, sign up for the Sotela newsletter!
11. Stop Using Single Use Makeup Remover or Cotton Balls
Whoever created makeup remover was a genius because they’ve convinced us into believing that we need a specific product to remove our makeup when the main ingredient is oil. Coconut oil is the best makeup remover – just apply and then wipe with your REUSABLE cotton rounds or a towel.
12. Use Natural Makeup and Nail Polish
It’s 2016 and time to stop using products with those ingredients on the “avoid” list. Shop natural products using my shopping guide.
A Cleaner Home
13. Ditch Those Toxic Home Products
Home products may be the worst offenders of containing toxic ingredients. Do yourself a favor and buy natural cleaning products or make your own!
If you sign up for Sotela’s newsletter, I’ll share my favorite products and DIY recipes.
14. Shop Organic and Local
Feeling a bit redundant here, but again, there are tons of pesticides on your fruit. Shop organic and local at the farmers market! The biggest misconception is that it is expensive.
15. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk allows you to reduce your packaging waste if you use your own bags and it minimizes your exposure to BPA. Most cans are lined with BPA.
16. Quality over Quantity
This doesn’t only apply to your closet, but also your home. Spend time investing in quality pieces that you will want to keep in your home forever instead of Ikea furniture that only lasts several years. Less is more when it comes to furniture and you can invest in sturdy pieces at the flea market or Craigslist.