1. Buy Your Food From Bulk Bins. Most natural food stores, and many supermarkets, offer a variety of loose goods like flours, powders, pastas, beans, nuts, dried fruit, coffee, tea, and spices – and there are awesome advantages to buying these items bulk. Firstly, you don’t pay for anything other than the actual food, which significantly lowers the price. As well, you further control your cost by purchasing as little or as much as you want. But economics aside, buying in bulk is the easiest way to reduce waste. Think about it – you’re foregoing the massive amount of plastic and materials that always accompanies pre-packaged products. And finally, buying whole, single-ingredient items means fewer preservatives, fewer additives, and more cooking from scratch – all of which is good for YOU!
2. Stop Buying ‘Throw-Away’ Stuff. Did you know that bottled water can cost 10,000 times more, per gallon, than tap water? And study after study confirms, it’s no cleaner, no ‘purer’, and no better for you than city water. Still, each year roughly 1.5 million barrels of oil are turned into plastic water bottles, 90% of which end up un-recycled in landfills. So please, slap on a faucet filter and get yourself a stylish stainless steel canteen. These days they come in every shape and color imaginable – très chic! And while you’re out shopping for the perfect water jug, why not pick up some extra cloth napkins? Because America’s paper towel habit requires 544,000 trees, each year. Unacceptable! Lets wipe our fingers on washable fabric, shall we?
3. Go Veg*n! Listen, it’s so much better for your body, it’s definitely better for the environment, and it’s certainly better for the animals. But okay, you’re not ready to commit 100%? That’s fine! There’s no ‘green competition’, and we’re all just doing what we can to make this world a bit better. But part of being fabulous means pushing farther, and expecting great things from yourself. So why not make a promise to cut out meat for a month? Or hit up the local library and check out The China Study? Or just aim to make veggies the majority of every meal! And when you feel overwhelmed, try to remember these powerful words: “Don’t think you have to do nothing, just because you can’t do everything”.
4. Always Shop Secondhand. We touched on this when I wrote about being an Ethical Sartorialist, but I felt it was important to reiterate. It’s time to face our fashion: the vast majority of new clothing is made with environmentally destructive methods, by people working in ‘poverty wage’ conditions, for corporations that aren’t held accountable to any of it. Is the perceived luxury of shopping the hot new trends, really worth all that? Well of course not! I shop exclusively secondhand, and you know what? I look faaaabulous, just like every other thrift store diva I know. We don’t need their stinky sweatshop clothes, right?!
5. Switch to Green Grooming. Our skin is our largest organ, the gatekeeper of our immune system, and yet, each day we mindlessly slather it with proven toxins, harsh chemicals, and potentially poisonous reagents. Just because we call them shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, lotions, serums, balms, toners, and tamers, doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Now honestly ask yourself: how much of that $#^! do you really need??? It’s probably not much. But for the necessary body beauty goods, seek out products that are made by smaller companies, certified organic, paraben and phthalate free, and cruelty-free without animal byproducts (look for the jumping bunny). Shop wisely (I know you always do!)
6. Support Your Local Art Scene. Looking to pimp out your pad, but not sure where to start? I think the quickest way to a fashionable living space is unique, customized expression. That means NO boring blank walls and NO corporate art. I say shell out a little extra dough and buy something custom. Hit your local art walks, coffee shops, and booze lounges for affordable art on display (the galleries tend to be much pricier – and stuffier!). You’ll be investing in an artist, building your community, and best of all, your flat won’t imitate every other Ikea cutout. And that, my friend, is fabulous.
7. Grow Your Own Food. But, not everyone has a pretty plot of land to till, and we can’t all move to the countryside. Some of us are city folk! So you can’t keep raised beds or a pea patch, so what!? Remember, it’s always better to do *something*, instead of doing nothing at all. Even that shoebox apartment has to have one windowsill. I’m sure it could accommodate a tomato vine. Or, a front stoop is a perfect place for a 2-gallon drum planted with fresh basil. What about a quiet corner of a public park? No one would notice if you added fresh rosemary, mint, and sage. I even knew of a girl who grew corn in containers on her high-rise balcony. Be creative, and start farming!
8. Everybody Recycles, But Do You Re-USE? I’m going to go ahead and assume that we’re all recycling, right? RIGHT? Okay good. But what about further reducing waste, by implementing a strict ‘re-use’ policy in our homes? For example, you can hand wash sandwich and freezer bags several times before they need to be tossed. You can repurpose glass food containers (like jam and pickle jars) into sustainable Tupperware – they’re so much safer than plastic. Use them to store your bulk food buys! Or paint your plastic food containers (like Earthbalance™ and Tofutti™ tubs) and turn them into miniature planters. Start a tub cactus garden! Or transform old tee shirts into mop rags and dusters, so you won’t need paper towels. As you can imagine, the possibilities are endless here. All you need is your magical mind . . .
9. Bring Animals Into Your Life. Oxytocin is the ‘love drug’ that floods new mothers and newborns, forever bonding them in adoration. But recent studies show that this chemical is also released into our brains *every time* we pet a mammal. That’s right, there’s an actual biochemical reaction occurring when you snuggle that mutt. Some scientists even postulate that increased urban depression could be the result of isolation from animal interaction. So instead of reaching for your mood-stabilizer-du-jour, how about reaching for a new furry friend? Consider trying to find room in your life to adopt (from a shelter, not a pet store or private breeder) a homeless pet. Or if you really don’t have the option – and some of us just don’t – you could volunteer at a shelter. Being around animals is a mutually beneficial, arguably essential, experience. In this life, it’s simply not to be missed.
Hey, How about YOU tell ME. What’s your favorite component of your fabulous green life?