Earlier this year I started falling down rabbit hole on YouTube where I watched video after video about “Zero Wasting” in which people vow to live their lives completely waste/trash free. That means no takeout containers, no Amazon shopping sprees, and certainly no Starbucks trips. I often found myself staring at the screen, each YouTuber with their little mason jar filled 1/4 of the way with Dole banana stickers boasting that they hadn’t thrown anything away in three years.
When I think about the state of our environment, the air pollution, the trash floating in the ocean, and the fact that every plastic product ever made still exists on our planet in some capacity, it blows my mind. I can’t believe we still live in a time when people are still exploited for their labor, where people that make our clothes and our coffee and our daily necessities aren’t treated with respect or paid a livable wage. All because we want more, and we want it faster and cheaper.
The saddest part is that our cultural climate demands this, and there’s little chance that it will ever change unless we, as consumers, demand otherwise. Though nobody is perfect, and not everyone (including me) has the resources to go 100% vegan/cruelty-free, zero waste, and ethical overnight, there are many things each of us can do to start spreading a message of change. Here are a few of them:
1. Say No to Packaging
This is as easy as substituting a canvas tote for a plastic shopping bag, drinking your drink without a straw, bringing your own travel mug to the coffee shop, and buying from the bulk bins at your local grocery store. When packaging is a necessity, avoid plastic whenever possible. Items packaged in glass or cardboard are infinitely more recyclable.
2. Buy Local and Secondhand
Dining at your local Mom&Pop restaurant, stopping in a local boutique, spending the weekend at a craft festival and farmers market, or browsing through a thrift store are all far more conscious decisions for shopping – and an added bonus – they’re way more Instagrammable! What’s not to love?
3. Do Your Research
Look up which chains offer fair trade coffee (apparently Dunkin Donuts is FT!) and do the same for multiple facets of your life. Watch documentaries like The True Cost and Food Inc. Check out websites like MyBeautyBunny and EcoWarriorPrincess that have wonderful resources on ethical and eco-friendly alternatives. YouTube and Pinterest offer a wealth of information as well!
4. Make a Point to Buy and Consume Ethical Goods
Once you do that research, go through with it! Support ethical brands like Everlane, Reformation, Threads For Thought, People Tree, and Ten Thousand Villages. Invest in glass storage containers and meal prep instead of buying lunch, consider adopting a cruelty-free beauty regimen, buy handcrafted gifts, and purchase items that have earth-friendly ingredients. The possibilities are endless because there are so many great options out there!
5. Walk, Bike, or Ride Share
Taking alternate methods of transportation is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, and maybe even make a few friends or help you catch up on that Podcast series you’ve been meaning to listen to. Plus, it can be easier on the wallet!
What are some little ways you’re planning to make a difference?
I would love to know your tips!