44% of all plastic that has ever been manufactured globally has been made since 2000.
I was never aware of my environmental impact growing up. I knew trees were important, I learned about climate change, but I didn’t think about my Starbucks cups or straws in my smoothies. I regularly heated up packaged food (in the plastic packaging, ugh). I’m guilty, guilty, guilty. But I’m aware now, and I want to continue to work on minimizing my impact on this gorgeous planet that we are slowly killing. This post is full of resources about how to be sustainable in all aspects of your life - pick a few, and start there! I’m certainly not perfect, but day-by-day, I’m working on it.
Why does this matter for our health?
The health of our environment directly impacts our health. It influences the air we breathe, the water we drink (microplastics are being found in our water supply), and the green space we have access to (which has been shown to improve mental and emotional health).
Endocrine disrupters are found in plastic (BPA, phthalates, etc). I certainly don’t want outside impacts on my delicate hormonal system (I’m stressed enough!). BPA-free plastic is not enough either - it’s often replaced with BPA’s cousin: BPS, which has even less on it’s potential safety or toxicity. Stick to glass and stainless steel. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. And avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7.
Our animals are eating this plastic, which is then killing them (whale with 80 pounds of plastic in it’s stomach) and destroying our oceanic ecosystem. Speaking of our oceans - think about everything you dump down the drain. Those chemicals end up somewhere! Or when you wash your clothing treated with chemicals? Again, that water has to go somewhere (whether it’s all the way to the oceans, or simply local rivers).
Plastic free week - I don’t think I could do a plastic free week (which, frankly, says a lot about how I live my life and probably how we are all living), but I think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m always looking for new ways to decrease my footprint (recycling, banning straws and single-use items [unless compostable] from my household, and getting these new produce bags) and this one is a good one! Here are a few more links about how you can help our planet (especially our oceans)…
Chalkboard Mag Interview with Lauren Singer on how she lives her low-waste lifestyle
9 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic with the NYT
Plastic or Planet with National Geographic - 40% of plastic is used just one time and it’s choking our planet. Less than a fifth of all plastic gets recycled globally. In the U.S. it’s less than 10 percent.
Have you heard of fast fashion? What about slow fashion? Basically the issue is that we have become dependent on buying things to fit the current fashion season, instead of buying a closet to last us for years. We look for a big sale ($2 t-shirts at Forever21? Black Friday?) with items that will start pilling and ripping in the wash after a few uses; instead, we should be buying a high-quality, more expensive piece that we can rely on over and over again. Prior to the mid 1980’s clothing that was purchased was meant to fit into one’s lifestyle, budget, and to coincide with the seasons. Clothing was treated with care and repaired when it started to show wear. Check out these articles to learn more about why/how to buy higher quality.
Brief history of Ethical Fashion with Truncation
Simplify your wardrobe with Caroline Joy at Un-Fancy and learn more about a capsule wardrobe
Learn to be okay with less/buy less at Project 333
Buy a pair of recycled leggings from one of my favorite brands: Girlfriend (added bonus is the huge variety of sizes they carry!) - I adore their high-waisted classic leggings. They are NOT see-through
Sustainable clothing for every budget with A Clean Bee
Have you ever tried a capsule closet? I try to make myself have a “work wardrobe capsule” to minimize how much I need to spend on formal clothing that I don’t usually wear outside of my work environment. I have mostly black, grey, and white clothes, with accent colors of green, purple, and blue. I do have a couple statement shirts outside of that (or my camel colored sweater I love) but they usually are clothes from the rest of my closet that sneak into my work capsule, rather than buying specialty work clothes.
Don’t go home and throw out your whole closet; instead, as you need new items, think sustainable choices. Always donate clothes you no longer need, and utilize thrift shops and second-hand stores for your own shopping needs. Truncation describes her “happy medium” for shopping as the following:
Shop locally/from small makers when possible.
When the first two fail, shop from brands that have high enough quality and timeless enough aesthetics that I’ll wear them for a very long time.
Never shop from brands that are known for cheap and fast fashion or have been associated with child labor (i.e. Topshop, Zara, H&M, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, etc.).
I’ll be the first to say I don’t live by this philosophy completely, but every day I try harder to make more conscious choices and embrace my current closet!
Sustainably sourced spiritual practice - I’m all about sage, crystals, and essential oils for wellness, but we should always be thinking about sustainable sources. This article from mindbodygreen was super interesting to me, and definitely made me re-think how I need to be mindful buying my crystals. Instead of using sage to clear my apartment’s stagnant energy, I’ll probably pick up one of these sprays (cedarwood), or take a look at Mountain Rose Herbs for bulk spices, teas, herbs, and more (edible flowers for smoothie bowls anyone?). Mountain Rose Herbs also has sustainably sourced essential oils (that are MEGA high quality too!) — it’s a brand you can trust.
Another clean beauty company is Follain - they pool together brands that meet their strict standards and can even help guide you toward products that will be best for your skin type! I just bought some ILIA mascara from there and it’s so much nicer to my sensitive eyes (no more watering or itching!).
Ditch your shampoo bottle and opt for this zero-waste bar for shampoo and conditioner! I have tried both shampoo and conditioner, and __.
Bamboo Band-aid - alliteration and all, this is the way to up-level your band-aids (I know, I’ll miss Hello Kitty Band-aids too). I have a bamboo toothbrush too, and my toothpaste comes in a glass jar.
Check out this article from the EWG (authors of the dirty dozen and clean fifteen) about avoiding endocrine disruptors found everywhere in our lives.
Please recycle! It seems like a no-brainer, but in the U.S. less than 10% of all plastic gets recycled. And when you have an option, just say no to plastic!
Part of being more sustainable is simply buying less and owning less. Check out the Minimalism documentary (trailer below) or Spark Joy series (both on Netflix) for some inspiration and tips.
What I’m doing
Reusable bags at the grocery store and reusable produce bags
Buying only non-toxic cleaning products, and re-purposing holey/worn-out clothing as rags
Mason jars for storage
Using glass storage containers and never heating in plastic
Saying “no receipt please!” every chance I get (or “email only please”)
Bringing my reusable coffee mug everywhere (or, if I’m meeting someone, use one of the coffee shop mugs! Even starbucks has “for here” mugs)
My boyfriend drinks milk, so we buy from a local farm that uses glass bottles that we can return to get our deposit back
Recycle! We make a small pile of things and take them out to the recycle bin as needed
Donate old clothes
Buy from sustainable companies (Girlfriend leggings for example!)
Growing my own herbs (assuming I can keep these plants alive)
Reuse containers - I use old glass jars to store food I make, cardboard containers for sticker storage, and an old tea tin to store pens
Bamboo tooth brush
I do these things not only for the health of the planet, but also for my own health to avoid toxins that could disrupt my sensitive (and already disrupted) endocrine system (PCOS is considered a metabolic disorder that also has endocrine impacts).
What tips did I miss? What articles should I read? Comment below with some thoughts!
P.S. Here’s the viral hit “Earth” by Lil Dicky & literally every singer you’ve ever heard of. (NSFW, so put on some earbuds)
Take a seat, grab a cup of matcha
Let’s talk about healing your life
Up-leveling your wellness practice
Finding new resources
and living Vivaciously Well.