Sustainable Habits to Adopt for the New Year
WRITTEN BY: Rose Morrison | BioFriendly Planet Magazine
With the New Year fast approaching, now’s the time to learn sustainable habits and practices you can adopt to better yourself and the environment. Here’s to a better year ahead!
Sustainable Clothing Practices
It might be a New Year and a new you, but I’d recommend thinking twice before buying that new coat without first doing your research.
- Buy Second-Hand
Because the fashion industry is responsible for between 8 and 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, many believe the only truly sustainable way to shop is never to buy anything new. These individuals purchase clothing at consignment shops or thrift stores like Poshmark, ThredUp, or Facebook Marketplace.
Buying second-hand clothing extends the lifespan of an article already in existence. Additionally, it can serve as an affordable and environmentally-friendly means for you to build your wardrobe.
- Consider Ethically or Sustainably Made Clothes
If second-hand clothing isn’t your style, try researching a brand before you go out and make a purchase. Utilize a site like Fashion Revolution to help you ensure the brand has sustainable and ethical practices. Fashion Revolution is a ranked index of 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands. Use it to inform yourself of which brands you wish to support.
The fashion industry is to blame for one-fifth of industrial water pollution. Dyes and harmful pollutants go straight into our global water sources. When shopping for clothes, consider purchasing garments made from organic materials. Organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo are sustainable materials and offer an environmentally-friendly fashion industry.
Sustainable Grocery Shopping Practices
Try these easy tips to make grocery shopping more sustainable in the new year:
- Remember Your Bags
Want a little tip to help you remember your reusable bags for grocery shopping? Always keep them in the car, or garage, or near the door so you never leave home without them and end up having to get plastic bags instead. Another idea is to start your shopping list with the word “bags” as a reminder to grab your reusable ones.
- Shop Local and Organic Produce
Many local growers produce fruits and vegetables seasonally, yielding fresher and more nutritious produce than store-bought. When you purchase produce that’s grown by local farmers, you support the local economy. Think of your money as an investment – it stays within the community, farmers use it to purchase supplies at local businesses, and crops are sold at local restaurants or markets. Additionally, you cut down on carbon emissions by shopping locally.
Purchasing organic produce prioritizes regenerative farming techniques to improve our environment. Many local farmers also grow organic produce. If you have questions on whether something is organic, ask your local farmer about their USDA certification paperwork. If they sell organic produce at a farmers market, they should have their paperwork on hand at all times.
- Reduce the Meat You Eat
Meat eaters might not want to hear the news, but the work of producing livestock contributes to 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The easiest way to reduce carbon emissions and live sustainably is to limit meat consumption or eliminate it. Try adding more legumes and grains to your diet and decreasing meat to just once or twice a week.
Additionally, eliminate purchasing factory-farmed meat, as it tends to be the worst offender in greenhouse gas emissions. In your local community, you may find farmers who raise livestock. Support and purchase meat from them instead. You could also consider joining a community-supported agriculture (CSA) group and get a box of goods delivered to your home monthly. Depending on the farm, some offer grass-fed beef, pork, or poultry options.
Sustainable Laundry Practices
Rather than wasting energy, try hanging your clothes to dry. You can practice sustainable habits like this at all times of the year. In the winter, stretch a line across your basement and pin clothes to air-dry. You can also get racks for more delicate linens.
In the spring and summer, hang your clothes outside in the sun. You’ll love how your clothes dry with a fresh, natural scent. Another perk of hanging your clothes is it preserves the quality and often extends the life, allowing you to wear them longer than if you were to use a dryer.
Sustainable Bathroom Practices
Unfortunately, the bathroom can be one of the least sustainable places in your home. Ensure you recycle all of your plastic containers and paper products from this area. Try adopting these sustainable habits in the new year to make it more environmentally friendly:
- Invest in Sustainable Toiletries
When you look around your bathroom, you might not be surprised to find the products you put on or inside your body aren’t beneficial for the environment. Almost everything is packaged in plastic. Those products promising benefits for your skin will wash away to pollute our waterways with chemical residues.
When possible, choose natural skincare options, free from synthetic chemicals like microbeads. This is a healthier choice for your body, and it’s a more sustainable pick for the environment. Additionally, try limiting some of your plastic products in your bathroom and instead buy a compostable toothbrush and a metal shaving razor.
Instead of using cotton pads or makeup wipes, you can purchase reusable options made from organic materials. Know there are plastic-free options for shampoo and conditioner available. They often come in bar form, are highly concentrated, and last longer than traditional water-based shampoos and conditioners.
- Try Sustainable Feminine Products
Consider putting a pause on single-use period products. Tampons require various materials to produce, like blends of cotton, rayon, and polyester. The worst offender is the plastic applicators and wrapping; some disposable tampons can be up to 90% plastic or the equivalent of four plastic grocery bags. If you use more than 20 tampons during your period, that means you’ve used the equivalent of 80 plastic shopping bags.
Interested in trying sustainable menstrual products now? You’re in luck! There are many to choose from. One of the most environmentally-friendly options available is the menstrual cup. Made from silicone, most menstrual cups can last for up to 10 years. You can wear it for up to 12 hours at a time – just clean it between uses.
There are options available for reusable pads, too. This option typically lasts three to five years and requires washing in between uses. Period underwear is another sustainable feminine hygiene product to consider. It’s designed to be worn all day and has multiple layers.
The Year of Sustainability
Make this coming year memorable by starting it off right. Put good habits into practice by changing how you shop, how you eat, and even how you organize your bathroom. You can live a more sustainable life one day at a time!
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