We all know that we need to take better care of the environment - at this very moment. Understanding this is not just important, it can actually be implemented in daily life. The good news is that all of us can live more sustainably and improve our eco-footprint on this planet. And don't worry: you don't have to flip your life upside down and change all daily habits overnight. It's the small and consistent changes that make us live more sustainably and ethically.
Our 7 tips for more sustainability in daily life
Many small and meaningful changes turn into something big in the long run. Here are our 7 easy steps on how to be more sustainable.
1. Cloth bag instead of plastic bag
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One of the classics: After work you want to stop by the supermarket and get some ingredients for dinner. Your hunger is big after a long day, your bag is already overflowing and it's tempting to grab a one-way bag at the checkout. In the fruit and vegetable isles, the plastic bags are also an easy temptation. Even the paper bags are not as environmentally friendly as they seem. Thankfully there are cloth bags with gorgeous prints or trendy string bags in all kinds of colors that fit into any purse. That way you are prepared for a spontaneous shopping run!
2. Zero-Waste - shopping sustainably and waste-free
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Maybe you've heard about the sustainability principle of the 5 R’s: “Reuse, Refuse, Reduce, Rethink, Recycle”, which helps us guide how to be more sustainable. With zero-waste, we take the next step and take into account the entire lifecycle of each item that we own and use. It is a new perspective of living, one that chooses against disposables, repairs broken items, consumes less. When we do consume we purchase things that are going to last. A Zero-waste lifestyle looks for ways to share resources with the community, and also understands the local waste management system. Most importantly those who choose zero-waste understands that recycling isn’t enough and is not going to cut it in the short or long-term future.
For all those that want to experiment with a zero-waste lifestyle, here are some helpful resources. A great place to start are the online shops UltraGreen and Zerowasteladen. You will find countless beautiful and sustainable products that are all packaged and sent in an eco-friendly way. At Avoid Waste and Wild Minimalist you find products that are not just stylish, but help you live a waste-free life.
3. Cooking plan for the week
When it comes to living sustainably, a great place to change things is in the kitchen. Choosing glas instead of plastic bottles is an immediate and simple change that we can all easily implement. But there's more we can do, especially when it comes to reducing food waste. Unfortunately, too much food gets thrown into the dump. The reason: the expiration date has quickly passed while the product can actually still be enjoyed. It's important to know that the expiration date is only a minimum date and not set in stone.
A lot of food can be enjoyed a lot longer, "best before" is just a guideline. When something doesn't smell right or has mold on it, of course it's time to say goodbye. However, sit down one day a week, create a cooking plan for the upcoming days and design your shopping list accordingly. That way, you only put things into your cloth bag that you really need.
4. Bye-bye, disposables!
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Straws, cotton pads, cotton buds and much more. There are so many little things that we use in our daily life. The sad reality is that 99.99% of them land in the bin after a single use. That's unwise for our wallets and extremely harmful to the environment. Say no to all disposables and start by doing an inventory of your home. Which products do you use daily and which of those can you replace with an environmentally-friendly alternative? And it doesn't mean that your entire home will all of a sudden look like a hippie residence. For example, washable make-up removal pads or drinking straws made of glass that do good and look great.
5. Green products at home
Photo by Karolina Grabowska @Pexels
One of the easiest tricks for more sustainability at home: choose household brands that don't contain any toxic and harmful chemicals. Especially when it comes to our laundry, eco-friendly alternatives make a huge difference. Eco-detergents are made from natural materials and, unlike conventional detergents, are biodegradable in water. At shops like Haka, Naturalou and Waschbär you can find only environmentally friendly washing detergents. And here you can find some helpful ideas on how to wash your clothes more sustainably. Or you can even try creating your own detergent. It's more effort than going to the store but you can't get more sustainable like that.
6. Choose sustainable clothing
Did you know that the textile industry produces more CO2 than the airline and cruise industries combined? The madness of the fast fashion industry dries up rivers and lakes, releases micro plastics into the environment and exploits workers. So the difference that we all can make when it comes to our fashion consumption is really large.
Organic fashion consumes less water, pays fair wages to all workers in the supply chain and does not release any toxic materials. Choose sustainable labels that work with an official eco-certification to be sure that your fashion consumption is kind to the environment. There are so many places you can start on how to be more sustainable when it comes to fashion. For instance, in the Avocadostore where we just can't get enough of all the wonderful sustainable brands. Even better of course is second hand shopping. Here, the times of old and dusty second hand shops are long gone. On sites like VINOKILO or Neuzwei you can find high-quality second hand clothes that are at least as stylish as the new version.
7. Live sustainability with your kids
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova @Pexels
There's a lot our kids learn in school - but what about sustainability? This topic isn't part of the curriculum, so it's your turn as a mom or dad. Teach your kids about sustainability in a playful way. You can use gardening, for example, to waken the curiosity of your little ones (if you don't have a garden, flower pots on the balcony are just as good). Try teaching your kids the connection between healthy soil, water and air. It is often easier for children to understand things when they have them directly in front of them.
And last but least: ask questions and keep educating yourself! Only if each and everyone of us cares more for the environment can things really change in this world. Before you click on the “buy button” next time or place a product into your basket, ask yourself:
- Were the materials produced in a sustainable and ethical way?
- Is the entire manufacturing process environmentally friendly and ethically sound?
- What happens if I no longer need the product? Can it be recycled or does it simply end up in the landfill?
It's essential that we know about the entire process of our products from start to finish. Sometimes it's the little details that allow us to make a positive change, amounting to something significant in the big picture. If each and everyone does these little changes, together we can make a big step in the right direction!
Carolina is not just a passionate writer, loves languages and literature - her heart also beats for Sweden, Chai Latte and Yoga. Born and raised in Northern Germany, Carolina lives in Hamburg together with her dog and writes as a freelance journalist for fashion, beauty, women, home & living.