June 4, 2017

Climate change and the planet: Small steps to playing our part.

Usually when I want to talk about the environment I don’t, because I’m pretty sure I’ll get boxed as a weirdo tree hugger (!) so I let people do their own thing, and I do mine. I used to think caring was a ‘thing’ that was for some people and not for others, so I totally get it. But I’m also pretty sure that this week I get a free pass to say something about the environment so here it is.
One thing the last year of politics has reminded me of, is that we need to make it a collective human effort to better the planet and society, and not just rely on the powers that be.  Humanity as a whole is what’s going to further society, and take care of our world. And I’m part of that effort.  While I hope and pray that politicians get behind it and I love seeing when they do, they won’t always. And those moments are a great reminder that we all have a part to play – and the ability to play that part can never be taken away from us.
I love our planet, and I am conscious daily that I don’t want my convenience to hand my son’s generation problems to solve. I want to solve problems so I can hand his generation freedom.  So this week, I’ve felt more resolute than ever to do my part to hand down solutions not problems. Every small bit counts.  Whatever you already do, celebrate; whatever you can’t do, don’t sweat; but where you can make changes, I encourage you to try something new and form a new habit! Take responsibility and enjoy it along the way!
These are some of the steps that we’ve taken to reduce our impact on the environment, and some ideas of places you could make a small or large switch in your own world. I didn’t love them all to start with (at all) but now, even though they sometimes cost me in time, effort and money I genuinely love them all.

1. Ditch the plastic.

I’ve said it before that I love a good ziplock bag. Clean, simple, organized, easy.  But they do no good to the environment in their production, or their eternal afterlife, so I weaned myself off them. Happily it was actually easy. Instead I use cotton bags, Beeswrap, glass and stainless steel.
In reality: A few pieces still get into my home, there are a few things that I buy that come in plastic that I’m trying to cut out.  I mostly buy local veggies rather getting them at Trader Joes because then they’re plastic free, but carrots are in plastic either way. So I buy less, and I recycle, but I’d still love to change it.

2. Slow down with fashion.

Did you know clothing is the second most polluting industry… in the world?! I had no idea until a year ago when I started digging in and cleaning up our shopping habits.  A massive 6% of New York’s landfill bound waste is just clothes, and that’s after the ones that are recycled. The fuel that is used to create the clothes is where most of the pollution comes from, and then there’s the wasted/polluted water from creating, growing, and dying clothes.  You don’t have to suddenly go all organic and perfect to do your bit – in my mind the first step is to just buy less. Half the clothes is half the fuel, half the pollution and in the end, half the landfill.  It means buying better quality, and maybe spending more per piece but overall I now spend no more – and sometimes less, I buy a lot second hand! (Find our top ethical and eco conscious brands in this post)

3. Grow your own food or shop locally.

I’ve told you all about my garden, but I haven’t told you I didn’t do it because I loved the idea of home grown food. I actually started to feel like I had a responsibility to use the space I had to eliminate some food miles, and transporting fuel, and packaging, and grow it right here.  Very quickly I became addicted, and now I LOVE hopping outside to grab dinner! And I have a tiny little outside space, but even if you have nothing, grow a few herbs inside! It all counts. Truly.  What I buy I keep as local as possible, even if it means going without something one week, or buying a more expensive variety. Expense is all relative.
Reality: Some things I can quit easily, but I still buy bananas every week and I’m fairly certain they all came to me on a boat or a plane.  Note to self: cut down on bananas.

4. Quit to go containers.

Just. Do It. (Cos it’s actually really easy!) And it’s amazing how excited people are when they see me pull out my little stainless steel container in restaurants. I thought waiters would think it was weird and I’d want to hide it but people love it which makes me happy! We even discovered we can quit styrofoam and get our Indian takeaway like that. I’ve found that the US has a massive “to-go” culture, but this is something that we can invest in worldwide. Most to go containers aren’t recyclable, or don’t get recycled, and it’s actually really easy to just not take them! Invest in a little set that you take with you (keep in the car, or take in your bag when you know you’re getting food.) I use a stainless steel bento box, and also always carry a knife, fork and spoon, as well as a straw.
Reality: I try to remember to bring a Keep Cup when I’m getting coffee – but I have to get better at that! 

5. Start recycling (and composting.)

In the end, I’d love to not even have any plastic to send to recycling – we’re trying to stop bringing it into our home period but if you do bring it in, make sure it’s recyclable, and then recycle it. Along with paper and glass! If you don’t have curbside recycling or its hugely limited like ours, locate your nearest recycling bank! (You can actually get paid to to do it!)
And if you have the space, it’s actually really easy to set up some form of simple composting situation.  I have a really simple wire mesh one but on my dream list is one that can also take meat and dairy… one day!

6. Parents: Go cloth on diapers!

Ok so this won’t apply to everyone but I knew when we first got pregnant that I wanted to use cloth diapers. Even the cleanest ones take hundred of years to decompose so it was a no brainer to me! I though it would be daunting to go cloth but it really isn’t – once you get the routine down, it’s actually pretty simple. And it saves us a TON of money! Win win. If you want to know more about what we used I have details on the Clean Living Baby Shower Checklist.
And there are so many other small and large steps you can take but I think the important thing is that we do something and then celebrate what we do!  We’re constantly trying to take new small steps forward and be inspired by the people ahead of us on the journey.  What is the part you’re playing or the change you’re wanting to take on? Comment below and tell me! Or if you’re doing something you think might inspire us, or know a company with values we might love, leave a comment below too!


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