Over the past year or so I have made a conscious effort to educate myself on sustainable living, as well as reducing my personal waste. While I do not currently live a zero-waste lifestyle, I have been trying out a few different products and eliminating certain plastics or other non-compostable materials. I hope to one day achieve sustainable living and a minimalistic home, but until then, here are a few tips and tricks to reduce your waste and clutter!
1. Pasta water
When cooking myself a nice gluten free & vegan pasta dinner, I always make sure not to waste the water. instead of pouring the left-over water into the colander and down sink, I put it to the side to cool and later use it to water my house plants! The starches from pasta, potatoes and boiled eggs provide nutrients that help my plants grow. Avoid watering plants heavily salted or seasoned water.
2. Grab & go reusable cups or mugs
Whether you invest in a KeepCup brand travel mug or a glass bottle that was originally filled with tea, try ditching the single use cups and mugs. Next time you grab a latte from Starbucks, or my personal favorite Golf Park Coffee, try asking permission to use your own reusable cup.
**This may be difficult during COVID-19, so please follow local and corporate guidelines when using reusable cups and mugs.
3. Reusable bags
I always have a reusable bag on me at all times. I usually keep an organic cotton tote in my purse, or a plethora of reusable bags I’ve accumulated over the years in the trunk of my car. If you manage to forget them still, try asking your grocery store cashier if you can use brown paper bags instead of the default plastic bags.
4. Meal planning
This is an area I tend to slip-up in, but it’s one of the most important to prevent waste and save you money. Pick a day of the week or month to consistently sit down and write out a meal plan. When you go to the store, stick to your plan and avoid going to the inner isles. By avoiding the inside isles, you’ll find that you’ll buy less unnecessary and unhealthy foods.
5. Buy in bulk
Instead of buying individually wrapped products, try buying them in bulk to reduce unnecessary wrapping or plastics.
6. Buy from sustainable clothing brands & thrift
Instead of purchasing clothing from a retail chain that will wear and tear over a season, purchase staple pieces from ethical and sustainable brands that are durable and last you triple the amount of time for a little bit more. Slow fashion will stay in style for longer than quick trends that will burn out quickly. If you are looking for a fast fashion piece for a party or work, consider visiting a local Goodwill or thrift store!
7. Swap plastic cooking utensils for wooden and bamboo.
Bamboo lasts longer and is better for the environment, plus it looks aesthetically pleasing.
8. Refuse single use straws & utensils
This should be a simple and most common sustainable swap. You can find metal and bamboo reusable straws in almost every retailer in America, and it helps reduce plastic waste. I carry around bamboo utensils and metal straws in my bag at all times. Keep in mind though that banning plastic straws is not the answer, some of our friends with disabilities need access to light weight straws and utensils!
9. Swap plastic containers for metal or glass
I carry a nice metal container for work and school lunches. I always get so many compliments and helps reduce plastic waste!
10. Try incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet
Don’t feel pressure to go vegan or vegetarian overnight. I am simply dairy free and eat lots of plant-based foods. Some swaps like Earth Balance Vegan Butter Spread are unnoticeable, even by my dad who is a picky eater!
11. Shop sustainably, ethically and locally.
Last but certainly not least, remember to shop local and sustainable! Take the time to check out and support these amazing sustainable black-owned businesses, as well as other sustainable brands! Go check out what your locally owned market or grocery store has to offer! Purchase fresh and pesticide free produce, grass fed meats, and more. Supporting local is one of the most fun, affordable and easiest way to live sustainably and responsibly!
I hope you learned a few new tips and tricks that are sustainable and eco-friendly. Again, I’d like to add that I am in no way committed to a full-time sustainable lifestyle but hope to one day reach that goal! I encourage you to take baby steps and try out some of these sustainable swaps. Every little effort towards sustainable living counts!