I have decided to add my voice to the call for ethical and sustainable living, particularly when it comes to consumerism. I want to delve into topics like fast fashion on this blog and address the staggering amount of waste and trash, particularly plastic, in our culture. Fast fashion and plastic are probably the most abused and the most harmful to our earth.
Before we move one, a little PSA: My thoughts are not meant to judge or complain or criticize your choices. I definitely know what it is like to be on a budget and buy that $2 shirt on sale at Forever 21! But I can't ignore the facts. Cheap clothes like those from Forever 21 and similar stores use cheap labor that invites a cycle of poverty. It is just not fair. And also, I'm of the mindset to buy from local, U.S.-made shops to support our own economy.
But to introduce this series, this current post is going to be as helpful as possible. I'm not going to rant over littering and save the trees; I want to share helpful tips on how to reduce waste and live more mindfully - tips that I've heard from other mindful people and that I've personally tried and found success with. So here we go!
Drink out of a reusable bottle. A lot of people do this already and its a simple trick to help decrease the amount of plastic that gets used once and thrown away in a landfill.
Carry re-usable shopping bags, or ask for paper at the checkout line. Some people will argue that asking for paper is just as bad for the environment as using plastic bags, but I am of the opinion that paper will always be better than plastic. If you are like me and forget to bring reusable shopping bags, keep a stash in your car for the next time you go shopping.
Switch to metal straws. This is a game changer for me personally - I almost exclusively drink through a straw. I don't know why, I just prefer it. But plastic straws are terrible for our environment! Some quick math - if I use a straw everyday for the rest of my life (let's say 70 years), that would be 25,550 straws from ONE person that end up in a landfill or in our oceans. So I recently bought a pack of 8 metal straws online and use those instead. I like them just as well!
Recycle!!!! I used to live in a town that did not offer recycling services, so let me tell you, its not always easy. But most other U.S. towns offer recycling services and I encourage everyone to utilize them. I was told by a blogger friend to go to the local dump and ask where all our trash goes. Usually, the answer is enough to push anyone to begin recycling as much as possible.
Donate and re-purpose. In my quest for minimalism in my home and closet, I ended up donating bags and bags of clothes, books, pieces of furniture and other household wares. Not only do you get a tax write off for donating, you help someone else in need. Look for organizations or centers that don't necessary get a profit from reselling your donated things, or who are in desperate need for donations. Additionally, I began making an effort to re-purpose things before buying something new. It helped me distinguish want from need and has overall saved me money.
Compost - now this is something I haven't yet started, but I will in the near future. Composting is great for those who have gardens as you can use your rich, composted soil to grow healthier plants! There are a few rules on composting, such as how to set up your composting space and what can and cannot be composted, so do some research before you begin. But if you find yourself throwing away a lot of produce and food scraps, you may be able to set up a prime composting space and have super rich soil for future plants in no time!
Thrift - I understand that some people enjoy thrifting more than others but there are some serious gems that get donated or put on consignment. I have found a lot of essential basics and a few statement pieces when it comes to clothing at my local thrift stores. My most favorite denim shirt ever is from a thrift store and I wear that shirt once a week, at least. Furniture can also be thrifted and if you are really serious about it, that same thrifted furniture can be sanded and painted into a brand new piece that fits your space. My husband and I had a thrifted breakfast table and two chairs and that set was our favorite piece of furniture ever. We ended up donating it when we moved to North Carolina for someone else to enjoy, but my point is - you may easily fall in love with a piece from a thrift store, so give it a chance!
These seven tips are ones I practice regularly (with the exception of composting, at the moment) and I'm excited to see what other tricks I can uncover and share with you all. the meantime, what kinds of sustainable living tricks do you like to use? Do you have any questions on practicing mindfulness in a consumerist society? Let me know in the comments below?