The craziness of my second-to-last semester of college and Christmas are over. In a few short days, this year and decade will also be behind us. As I reflect on my choices and experiences, I feel content with how my 2019 turned out. I made adjustments in many areas of my life, including making an effort to live more sustainably. Recently, I read a tweet that said something along the lines of “the world needs many people practicing sustainability imperfectly, not a few people doing it perfectly.” This sentiment has resonated with me as I’ve worked to make small adjustments to live more sustainably. If you are looking for baby steps to treat the earth with more kindness, here are some tips from what I started doing this year:
Reusable Makeup Cloths
As someone who uses makeup frequently, I constantly find myself quickly burning through packages of makeup wipes. Both the wipes and the packaging they come in can quickly add up and be bad for the environment. The residue from these wipes also isn’t the best for your skin. This past November, I organized an event at my college that included a Primark pop-up and a fashion show featuring Primark. They handed out gift cards and a variety of goodies including packs of cloth makeup-removing mitts. One side is soft, while the other side exfoliates a bit more. Instead of using a makeup wipe, you can remove makeup with these mitts and some water, and when you’re done, you can put them in the wash to use all over again. A review for the cloth can be found here and this product can be found in Primark stores!
Water Bottles and Reusable Coffee Mugs
Both reusable water bottles and coffee mugs have been popular for awhile, but I was always too “lazy” to get on board. Reusable water bottles creeped me out because of how gross they can get after awhile, and I never took the time to shop for a travel mug for coffee. I feel ashamed looking back at all the times my family carted in multiple packs of Poland Spring water bottles when they visited me at school. A few months ago, after using a metal water bottle for awhile that was hard to clean, I found a reusable plastic one at Target that was easy to take apart and wash. I love the reusable coffee mugs Starbucks sells because they are both cute and functional. I currently have one that can only be used for iced coffees, but I would like to add a mug for hot ones to my collection soon!
Although I don’t anticipate going vegetarian anytime soon, 2019 made me much more aware of the problems caused by meat consumption. Not only does it hurt the animals being killed, the production and transportation of meat also takes a colossal amount of natural resources and releases greenhouse gasses and chemicals into the environment. This made me decide to try to abstain from eating meat at least one day a week. This may seem like a small step, but it can add up a lot over time, especially if a lot of people do it. I am also appalled by many aspects of the dairy industry, so I have stopped drinking milk and try to experiment with having vegan substitutes for foods that are traditionally made with dairy.
Public transportation stresses me out, Ubers are scary and expensive and I’m always looking for opportunities to exercise and explore Boston. For this reason, as long as the weather isn’t horrible and the path is in a safe area, I try to walk up to 40 minutes to get to different places around the city. This practice is a healthy option for people who are able to do it and reduces how may cars are out on the road.
Decreased Trash Bag Use
I can’t remember where I read this, but this year I came upon the suggestion to not put trash bags in small waste bins, but instead to leave them bare and wash them with soap and water each time they get emptied. This can help reduce your use of garbage bags, thus reducing the amount of waste you’re putting into the world.
Giving Away Clothes / Thrifting
2019 has also made me more aware of the environmental implications of fast fashion. For this reason, I love buying vintage clothes, clothes from stores like Goodwill and consignment stores like Plato’s Closet. It can also be better to buy new clothes from small businesses than big companies because it is likely that they were made in smaller batches and more sustainably. When I have outgrown clothes or no longer like them, I try to sell them to consignment stores or donate them, only throwing them away if they are in really bad condition.
This idea has been popular for awhile, and Boston banning plastic bags and charging for paper bags was the perfect kick in the butt to subscribe to it. I love using cute tote bags I’ve collected over the years instead of plastic or paper bags to reduce waste. Bonus: cloth bags are often stronger and more durable that plastic and paper bags anyway!
Goals for 2020
In 2020, I would like to research more sustainable practices, especially for when I move into an apartment and cook. I am obsessed with The Good Trade, which has inspired me to look into bulk grocery shopping, creating a capsule wardrobe (more mindful shopping and less purchases that will end up becoming waste) and using more organic products. Hopefully next year I’ll be writing a similar piece with new ideas!
One of the best parts of this year has been creating this blog, and I thank everyone who has read some of my posts. I can’t wait to keep writing in 2020! I hope you all have a safe and happy New Years!