Instead of specific New Year’s resolutions, I try to stick to general, non-specific goals for the year. One such goal that’s been on my mind for a while is to make lifestyle changes so I produce less waste, and consume less as a whole, while making choices that are better for the health of the planet.
These are just a few of the changes I’ve made, and urge you to consider as well:
Purging paper towels
I’ve removed them completely from my kitchen, and replaced them with microfiber cloths to clean up spills and wipe down my counters, in addition to cloth napkins for the table instead of paper ones. You can find these at Target.
I do have paper towels in my house still, though — they’re better for cleaning up cat vomit and the toilet. But otherwise, I’ve stopped using them.
Geting rid of K-cups
I love my Keurig, but I’ve switched from the one-time-use cups and bought a reusable one instead. This is better not just for the no-waste factor, but you can use whatever coffee you want. And I am that snob who only buys gourmet coffee (and grinds it fresh, just before use, with my own grinder).
In keeping with the trend of using less waste, I stopped using disposable makeup pads. I love these ones I found on Amazon. They work well and can be washed with the rest of my laundry — I put them in a mesh bag and let them air dry on the bathroom counter.
For plastic-free dishwasher and laundry detergent, I’m a new fan of dropps pods. The shipping is free (and carbon free!), and there are no plastic jugs. These pods work just as well as the Tide and Gain products I’d been using.
For toilet paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic, check out Who Gives A Crap (I’m sold just on the title alone!).
Another big one: I now use my own water bottles and coffee tumblers instead of disposable ones. I keep some in my car and kitchen pantry, so I always have one on-hand in case one is in the dishwasher. Some places will even give you a discount if you bring your own. If you forget, just ask for a ceramic mug — most coffee shops have them, including Starbucks.
I also use reusable canvas grocery bags in place of plastic ones. If I forget one, I use a paper bag from the store (which doubles as a cat toy). Simple Truth offers biodegradable plastic bags to line your trash cans (available at most grocery stores).
I’m also trying to eat less meat. Admittedly, I’m bad at this. I love chicken, in particular. But I’ve cut down my meat meals to only 2-3 per week, and I cut out beef altogether because cow farming is one of the biggest contributors to methane gases in the atmosphere. Not only is meat expensive, but it typically comes wrapped in styrofoam, which is also bad.
If you love burgers, try Boca veggie burgers: with enough barbecue sauce and pickles, you can barely tell it’s not real meat.
Finally, I admit that I love shopping- clothes shopping in particular. But in doing so, I not only spend a ton of money, I also directly support the Capitalist Machine that, more often than not, incorporates slave labor or pays workers unfair wages. So I started buying secondhand. You’d be amazed at how many designer-brand items you can find at places like Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor, and even your local Goodwill. I also recently discovered Poshmark, and ThredUp, apps where I’ve not only sold a lot of my clothes, but have found name-brand stuff for super cheap.
If you do want to buy new, consider supporting independent boutiques over chains.
For more ideas, check out this lady and her adorable “superhero” kids on Instragram. I also recommend the book The Conscious Closet to learn about what happens to the items we donate, and how to find great quality items secondhand.
If you have made some environmental changes in your life, I’d love to hear them!