The world has taken a turn for the sustainable in the past few years, and for good reason. With climate change at an all-time high and the issue of excess waste coming to a head, we need to pay much more attention to how we treat the planet. The average American produces more than four pounds of trash each day, and that shows something needs to change.
Of course, there are people who go above and beyond with their sustainable, zero-waste lifestyles. There are those who can fit all their trash in a tiny jar or grow all their own food — and those people are important for leading the way. But sustainability doesn’t demand perfection. It demands effort.
The world won’t change from a tiny handful of people doing sustainability flawlessly. The world changes when as many humans as possible do whatever they can. That’s why you can make small switches in your life that make a big difference for the planet — because sustainability is about sticking to it.
Here’s what you can do today:
1. Get a Reusable Straw
Everybody has heard the plight of plastic in the ocean and what it does to the poor marine life who have to live among it. Plastic straws are all-around bad for the environment, and if you can make the switch, you should absolutely do so. There are many different kinds of reusable straws — from glass to stainless steel and silicone — so all you have to do is figure out which one works best for you.
2. Bring Your Own Container
This swap is one of the simplest you can make because in most cases, you don’t have to buy a single thing. Your own takeaway containers and travel cups will work perfectly fine. Of course, there will be slip-ups and forgetful moments, but bringing your own containers to coffee shops, dinners out and takeout spots can help prevent disposable container waste.
Whether you’re taking leftovers home or going for your morning latte, all you have to do is say you brought your own cup or container and eliminate any need for plastic and paper.
3. Join Your Local Library
Going to the library may not be the first sustainable switch on everyone’s mind, but it can do so much for your environment and community. Going to the library for all your books, movies and even music is much more sustainable than buying new books and media regularly. The environmental advantage of sharing books, movies and media can make an impact over time, and that’s not even the best part of the library.
The library’s sharing system is great for the environment, but libraries also offer events and experiences for people of all ages that benefit the community. From storytimes to book clubs, meeting up with like-minded people and encouraging productive development in kids can help cultivate a world of conscious people who are devoted to the communities they live in.
4. Go Meatless
Factory farming is a huge drain on resources for the planet. From fossil fuel emissions to water waste, eating meat is a great way to toss tons of potential resources down the drain. While you don’t have to clean out your fridge and go vegan overnight, even starting small can make a big difference in your meat consumption.
Making an effort to eat more plant-based meals, going meatless a few days a week and eating more local fruits and vegetables are all steps in the right direction. Just like sustainable living as a whole, eating more plant-based foods is about trying your best to make the impact you can.
5. Hit the Bar
If you go through shampoo, conditioner and body wash like nobody’s business, chances are you may be tossing plastic bottles out left and right. Even if those bottles are recyclable, creating no waste at all is even better. Switching to bars of soap instead of body wash is a great way to do this.
If you’re really in the mood to overhaul your bathroom routine, you can even find zero-waste shampoo bars and conditioner bars to care for your locks. They’re natural, produce less waste and last much longer than traditional shampoo.
The road to sustainable living isn’t always plain and simple. Often, it’s about taking baby steps toward helping the planet in your own ways. When you find what works for you, you’ll stick with it, and that’s what does the work of making the planet a better place.