Resolutions. Goals. Change. Success.
These are the words thrown around at the end of December as we look to the new year. A new year comes with this expectation of change, of becoming better than ever before. Unfortunately, goals and resolutions tend to be more about our physical features than anything else. Why is this?
Our society has been running “smoothly” in capitalism for years. So smoothly that those in power don’t want it to ever change. They do not want us to aspire to change the state of our planet because that often comes with a complete dismantling of their money-hungry systems. So how do they do ensure change does not happen? By manipulating us to obsess about ourselves.
What is Good Enough?
Now you may have only come to quickly read this article in hopes for easy tips on becoming more sustainable (which will come soon enough!) but I do want to take a moment to discuss a very plausible reason as to why sustainability has not been a priority of ours.
From ADs to TV Shows, to Celebrity Endorsements, weight loss & diet culture is literally EVERYWHERE. It is can be found in every aspect of our day because that is what we have been taught to think is the most important to our identity and worth. The media tells us we cannot be enough until we look at certain way. And once we hit that ideal, THEN we can look forward and focus on bigger problems. But what if that ideal is constantly changing?
The coming of a new year for me was the time I always became hopeful that I would finally feel good about myself. I would get my new agenda and start filling it in, all excited for what was to come and how much better I would look. I thought about how the new year would finally be the year I had a boyfriend and I would be skinny and I would be popular etc.
So many years wasted attaining something I thought I wanted. Being “good enough” is a hoax. #cuetaylorswift
The Resolutions Revolution.
Think back to some of the resolutions you have made in the past. How many were to do physically changing yourself? How many were to do with physically changing the world? Probably not many for the latter (at least for myself!)
WHAT IF this year, we made resolutions to be more sustainable? more ethical? more involved in human rights? more soul nuturing?
There are SO many things that need to change in this world and there is so much impact you can make by changing your goals, your habits.
A Habit of Being More Sustainable in 2023!
Now that you have edited your resolution list (or at least started thinking about it!) possibly one of your goals is to be more sustainable!
It can be overwhelming wondering where to start and if what you are doing is even making a difference. I promise you it is! I chose this title to be Sustainable in 2023 because this gives you a few weeks to think over the logistics of being more sustainable in your unique environment and getting what is necessary. Below are 10 sustainable habits to start implementing into your life next month!
You only need to take a series of tiny steps, consistently, over time, to radically improve your life
– Darren Handy
10 Easy Habits to Start in 2023
Zero-waste Dental Care
For some ridiculous reason, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, and other dental care products are INCREDIBLY hard to recycle. Over 20 billion toothpaste tubes are sent to the landfill globally. As of right now, I have been collecting my empty toothpaste tubes/ brushes/ empty floss cartridges in a box to eventually send to Terracycle, which is a free recycling program with Oral B!
Here are some of my new habit suggestions:
- Switch to a Bamboo or Electric Toothbrush with replaceable heads (nothing that has single-use batteries!)
- Choose natural floss! I just recently bought some from here which are made of cornstarch.
- Switch to chewable tooth tabs instead of paste! There are so many brands out there doing this but a few I recommend are Lush, EcoBeige & Tanit. If you need fluoride, some companies make tablets with it too!
Compost > Garbage
Composting food scraps and waste is an amazing way to be more sustainable. According to The City of Vancouver, about 40% of waste that ends up in the garbage is actually compostable. That is a significant percentage that can be led away from our landfills with a major impact on greenhouse gases. When the city comes to pick up your compost, it will decompose and be sent back into the environment, providing nourishment for soil, creating less of a reliance on products like pesticides, and buries carbon into the ground.
If you are not composting right now, make this your first habit switch!! Sure, the first few times it may be gross to take your compost out, but knowing how good it is for the environment is very much worth it. If you know of someone who doesn’t compost, make it your mission to educate them and spread the knowledge!
I use compost bags like these ones or even a simple brown paper bag if you have some on hand. Get yourself a cute container while you are at it too.
Use Every Last Drop
I have this bad habit where I want to use more product than necessary or even dump out the last little bits, just so that I can recycle the almost empty bottle and feel more organized. Anyone else like this??
But if you think about the compounding effect, using all your products to the very last drop has an impact on how many products you use in a year and your spending! By making a habit to put in the extra effort to open lids, containers, or squeeze really hard, you make a difference.
Sometimes it is impossible to use every last drop. For example, I cannot for the life of me remove the Oribe Charcoal Shampoo cap from the container! I literally tried to do it with a wrench and a can opener. No bueno. This is a sign that the packaging is probably not great anyways so now I know to avoid for the future! (Oribe I need to speak with you).
A little tool you can get to make retrieving every last drop easier is the Metal Dispenser Squeezer , which works well for tube-based products. If you have any other tips or hacks to make this process easier, comment them below!
Drinks On The Go
I think this one is pretty obvious and yet it something I struggle to do! So often I find myself buying a tea or a smoothie without a reusable cup on hand. Thinking about it, this is a lot of cups going into the recycling (or even the garbage when I can’t find a recycling bin on the go!).
My goal habit for next year will be to have extra mugs and cups in my car, or maybe even in my bag. Collapsable cups anyone?? The same goes for straws. Making a habit to have a few straws rather than just one in your car will keep your sustainability in check when you are super busy.
Here are the products on my mind:
Stojo Titan Collapsible Cup 24 oz. (for my smoothies!)
If you have not already seen the Marie Kondo Special on Netflix, your homework is to do that first. It does a really good job at recognizing the relationship you have with your clothes and makes you feel good for donating/selling them. When we make a habit of letting clothing we don’t wear anymore pile up in our closets, one day we find ourselves overcome with owning too much, feel pressure to just mass delete our clothes, aka tossing them out because it is the easiest way.
The fast fashion industry is one of the top contributors to green house gases aka climate change. Not only should your purchases be sustainable but how you recycle them is important. Whether they don’t fit, the colour isn’t right, or there are rips/holes, there is always a better solution than just throwing it out.
For any fabrics that are beyond repair, take those to your nearest recycling depot (when you take your soft plastics too *see below) so they can be recycled.If there are clothes that no longer fit you, try to sell them on Poshmark. I have made over $1000 dollars on Poshmark just by selling clothes I no longer wore. Lastly, make it a habit to donate clothes that either don’t sell or you know someone in need will really appreciate. Especially this winter, places like Ukraine are desperate for winter clothing so take some time to go through your closets slowly and mindfully.
Some places you can thrift/sell clothes is Thred Up, Poshmark, Hunter and Hare, Facebook Marketplace, and Depop.
Cold Wash Laundry
This one is easy for you to start right away! All you need to do is 1) buy yourself a plant-based /sustainable detergent and 2) wash with COLD water. ALWAYS.
Making a habit of using cold water for washing your clothes is actually super beneficial in many ways. One of those ways is obviously your hot water bill, which also has an impact on greenhouse gases. Secondly, washing your clothes in cold water actually extends clothing’s life as the colours won’t fade as fast. I would say 9.5 times out of 10 you should use cold water. There are some situations where hot water is obviously necessary such as cleaning sheets with bed bugs, or anything that is excessively dirty.
Buying detergent is super easy and important as well because toxic particles can often end up in our oceans and will be ingested by animals. Look for detergents that are preferably plastic-free or even go to a nearby refill station to purchase your detergent in a reusable glass jar.
Repurpose / Repackaging
Being on PR lists as an influencer, I get sent a bit too many packages sometimes. One way I make sure to be as sustainable as possible is to reuse everything that is sent to me! I make a habit to use these boxes to repackage my Poshmark sales or use them for when I sent out giveaways! I also make sure to reuse the paper inside (tissue paper, brown paper) whenever I am wrapping or giving gifts!
A good habit to start is to not just automatically breakdown boxes and toss them into recycling. See if you can use them for something. This also mean you can save on tape since only the top half of the box has been opened.
*I also use boxes to store my receipts for the year or to collect things that I need to take somewhere to be recycled (like dental care above).
Online groceries has seriously become my life!
You might not think about grocery shopping online being something sustainable but think of how many cars are not on the road because of it! If 100 people order from the same place, maybe 4 or 5 trucks are out delivering in that given area. Not only do you help decrease your carbon footprint but you also save gas! A lot of these delivery programs source from only local providers which may mean higher prices, BUT you are also decreasing the carbon footprint of the food you eat.
Currently I use Fresh Prep for meals and SPUD for random items/snacks that I like to have on hand. Both have pretty decent recycling programs and will take back any soft plastics or other items that cannot be recycled at home.
Soft & Flexible Plastics
Okay hear me out. Not all things that look recyclable can be recycled via your home bins. For some reason, two of the biggest forms of packaging have to be taking to a recycling depot separately, which at least for Vancouver, we have to do ourselves.
This means a bit of extra leg work for us BUT it is not too difficult. To get started, what I do is collect these items over time and when my collection gets quite big, I will wash, sort through, and prepare it to be taken to the recycling depot.
Alright so what are they? Well one is called soft plastics and another is flexible plastics. A good rule of thumb is if you feel like you can make a hole in it with your finger, that’s a soft plastic. Flexible plastic is more like the zipper-like pouches that we see a lot of frozen fruit in.
Here is a non-exhaustive list:
- bread bags
- grocery bags
- zipper pouches
- soft yogurt lids
- cheese wrap
- meat seals
- bubble wrap
- plastic on packages (that often hold the shipping slip)
- pasta wrap
- chip bags
- granola bar wrappers
- coffee bags
- produce bags
- toilet paper/paper towel wrap
- cereal liners
DON’T PUT THESE IN THE TRASH!
So to break it down:
-First start collecting soft and flexible plastics. We use a big Whole Foods brown bag or right now I have the outside wrapper of toilet paper as our “bag”. Put everything in there
-Once it is really full, set time aside to rinse them all and sort into categories: soft plastics, flexible plastics, and anything else (styrofoam, mesh, etc)
-Put each in a separate bag and take to your nearest recycling depot! There will be designated spots for each one!
We probably do it every 3 months since it’s just me and my roomie but you might need to do it more often in a bigger fam jam 🙂
The last habit you can start looking in to is by seeing what changes you can make to your daily items. For example, I just bought this above planner because it is refillable! Once I finish with the sheets, I can buy a new set while keeping the same binder!
Whether it’s things like agendas and notepads all the way to shampoo and conditioner, there are a lot of ways to make a difference.
Slow Progress is the Fastest Way To Success
So I listed ten habits to become sustainable BUT I would rather you focus on 1 or 2 of these habits to start, instead of doing them all and burning yourself out. The extra effort is sometimes a lot when you add it on to the rest of the days chores. But worth it! It is easier to stick to a habit when others are doing it with you and keeping you accountable so be vocal about what your are doing at work, at friends house, and your family home.
If you are looking to read a book more on the mindset behind habits themselves, I am currently reading the book Atomic Habits that was recommended to me. Let me know if you have read it!
Thanks for reading!
Is there a a topic on sustainability you want to know more about or go into more detail? Let me know in the comments below!
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3 thoughts on “Sustainability For Beginners: 10 Easy Habits to Start in 2023!”
Thank you for these!!! I always feel so overwhelmed in how i can start bEtter sustainability habits within my Home. This is such a nice lisT to help guide me!
YAY I am so glad <3