We have “reduce, reuse, recycle” drilled into our heads a lot nowadays, but we sometimes forget that the order of those words is important! Recycling is a good practice, but it’s really more of a last resort when reducing and reusing are not possible. The process of sorting recycled goods is an enormous use of energy, and oftentimes things that are thrown in recycling bins aren’t actually recyclable and end up contaminating the entire bin. That’s why, while you should still recycle when you can, it’s important to invest your efforts into incorporating sustainable practices into your everyday life, not just when it’s time to take out the trash. 

Here are 5 easy ways to reduce, reuse, and live sustainably!

  1. Rethink how you use things marketed and labeled as “disposable.”
    We all know it’s best to minimize our use of disposable dishes and silverware, but you’d be surprised at how many other sustainable products are out there! Even Ziplock bags can be replaced with reusable alternatives like
    these. When you absolutely can’t avoid single-use plastics, be a rebel and use them a couple extra times! Use those extra grocery bags as trash can liners, or cut up those discarded cups to use as temporary planters.

  2. Avoid fast fashion and take good care of the clothes you already own.
    Shop second-hand to give new life to pieces that may otherwise end up in landfills (perfectly good clothes are often thrown away due to overflow in thrift stores). Invest in high quality garments that will last longer, and filter your shopping by asking yourself, “Do I see myself wearing this 5 years from now?” If the answer is yes and the item is made to last that long, you’ve got a sustainable purchase on your hands! To go the extra mile, look for brands that use sustainable or recycled materials. Some of our faves are
    Bytavi, Groceries Apparel, and Boyish.

  3. Consider reducing the amount of meat in your diet.
    We’re not telling you to suddenly go vegan if you’re a habitual meat eater; a huge change like that isn’t realistic in the long run! Take baby steps and do what works for your lifestyle. Try halving the ounces you eat one evening a week, or even experiment with a few meatless dinner options. Make it fun, not a punishment, and take the opportunity to test out a new recipe.

  4. Hydrate sustainably!
    Instead of relying on plastic water bottles, go reusable with products like the
    que collapsible bottle. In our humble opinion, it’s so much more stylish to throw a pop of color in your gym bag rather than a crinkly hunk of plastic that will eventually end up in the trash. The collapsible design makes them an ideal travel companion, and they make great gifts as well!

  5. Shop local and organic foods.
    The average 1,500 miles food travels from farm to fork can be cut down by purchasing food that’s grown or produced nearby, which means that in addition to supporting local farmers, you’ll also be reducing the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. If you can purchase organic as well, you’ll be supporting practices that reduce pollution and soil erosion, conserve water, increase soil fertility, and use less energy. We love
    Triangle Urban Farm for the freshest local foods.

These are just a few simple ways to cut back on unnecessary waste. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and what works for some may not be realistic for others. It all comes down to just being conscientious. There are so many ways to build a sustainable lifestyle, and it starts with little habits. If you’re making an effort, you’re doing your part! We’d love to hear some of the ways you incorporate eco-friendly products and practices into your daily life, so drop a comment or send us a message, and let’s help each other help our planet.

Amber Brennan