I was never a huge bottled water consumer. But there was a time when I didn’t really think too much about buying pre-packaged water. Now I think a lot (some might say, a bit too much).
It took a while for me to get in the habit of bringing a reusable water bottle with me wherever I went (and packing one with my child). But like most things, once you do it a bunch of times, it becomes habit.
Now we always bring reusable water bottles with us on car trips, camping trips, or to sporting events and fast-food places (and yay! we’ve never been scolded for filling up our bottles at the fountain drink dispenser)—or pretty much anywhere we might get thirsty. And while there are a few exceptions, most places you go will have access to clean, safe drinking water so you can get quick refills too—for free!
Here’s a really good video that helped me give plastic water bottles the boot:
* Unless the water in your community is truly unhealthy.
For the longest time I would avoid the bulk food aisle. Sure it looked cool, but it just seemed too much trouble. I already hate shopping. Now I have to remember to bring my own packaging?!?
But little by little, I slowly started to get the hang of it. and now I’m a bulk food master and you can be too in just three simple steps:
- Start Small – If you’re intimidated by the bulk food aisle like I was, start by buying just one thing in bulk. For me it was almonds and cashews. My foray into bulk food included using the store’s plastic bags which really defeats the purpose, but you have to start somewhere! Before long, I got the hang of scooping the nuts out without spilling them all over the place and writing the bin number on the twisty tie and I was ready for more!
- Pick the Right Packaging – Before you leave the house, consider what you’ll be buying in bulk. For things that aren’t wrapped like nuts, dried fruit, rolled oats, etc., you’ll want a light plastic container or even better, because they’re less bulky, a cloth bag like this. These mesh ones are great for produce, but not so great for food you can’t wash. For things like rolled oats, I just bring the original cardboard rolled oats packaging I got before I switched to bulk—the same thing I store them in. Otherwise, old yogurt, cottage cheese or hummus containers work great (PRO TIP: Write the container weight on them with a permanent marker. It saves you re-weighing when you’re shopping at a store that deducts the container weight at checkout). I honestly think it was all of the pre-planning of packaging that kept me from bulk shopping for so long. But now it really takes barely any time at all to go through my shopping list and grab the necessary containers before heading out the door. Don’t believe me? Try this tip I got from the great Gretchen Rubin: If you don’t want to do a small task because you think it takes too much time, use a stop watch to actually see how long it takes you to do it. You’ll be amazed to see how little time planning which containers you need to bring with you for bulk shopping really takes. And once you do it a few times, it takes even less time. Things I now buy in bulk: Cashews. Almonds. Walnuts. Rolled oats. Popcorn. Dried fruit. Oat bran. Honey. Maple Syrup. Sometimes special flours (but those can get kinda messy).
- Just Do It – Here’s how: Scoop the quantity you need. Write the bin number on the twisty. Place it in your shopping cart. BAM! When I need to buy just a little of something for a recipe (say, coconut), I’ve been known to bring a measuring cup with me so I don’t buy more than I need (world’s worst eye-baller here). Some grocery stores even have a scale that will print out a label for you. Just plug in your bin number, weigh your item and out comes the label that you can just stick on your container! I felt like a big dork the first few times I perused the bulk aisle and didn’t know quite what to do. But trust me, it will become habit in no time. And think of all the plastic you’ll avoid! Hooray!
Remember back in the olden days when clothing would last forever and people would darn socks?
Now you can stay on top of the trends at a fraction of the price, shopping discount retailers and door-busting sales. If that cute skirt’s not-so cute next year? Toss it in the Goodwill pile! Did that “must-have” sweater start pilling up? Chuck it in the trash! Hell, it was only $15!
I could go on and on about what the fast fashion industry is doing to our planet, but I’ll spare you the gross details and just wait here while you google it (keywords: fast fashion environment). You came here for solutions! So here we go:
- Buy Used: Sure, there are things you won’t want to get used (ahem, probably undies for one), but if there’s something specific you’re looking for, say, a black cashmere sweater, why not check out used options first? (I just found two super cute jean skirts at my local Savers.) But if you don’t like scouring the local thrift shops, there are so many online options that make buying second hand second nature, like eBay, ThredUP, Swap, and Poshmark. For more fancy-pants designer brands try your local consignment shops or online places like The RealReal, Tradesy, Material World, or Le Prix. Love yourself some vintage duds? Try eBay, Asos Marketplace, and Refashioner. And dudes, you can buy pre-owned and still look like a baller with Grailed. If you’re big Instagram fan, try Depop or Noihsaf Bazaar. Don’t forget to check return policies.
- Buy Responsibly: Get the heebie-jeebies from wearing a stranger’s cast-offs? Can’t ever find the size you need at the thrift store? If you can swing it ($$), try buying your clothing from more socially responsible places. Need a few ideas? Here’s a few: Patagonia, Alternative Apparel, Blue Sky, Pact Apparel, G-Star RAW, and Yoga Democracy. (Leggings made from plastic water bottles? Yes please!)
- Host a Clothing Swap: Invite a few friends (and their clothing cast-offs). Make sure there’s a designated changing room. Decide if you want it to be “clothing only” or you’re up for swapping household items, decorations and used toiletries too. Make it as easy or as complicated as you want: Serve wine and cheese, or do like I did once and bring a bag full of clothes when you meet friends for coffee and do a parking lot swap. Donate anything left over.
- Put it on Virtual Hold: Next time you’re filling your online shopping cart with impulse buys, pause, take a breath, then sleep on it. The next morning evaluate the items you have in said shopping cart. I’m guessing you won’t buy half of them.
- Get it Fixed!: When’s the last time you got shoes repaired? Pants hemmed? A waist line taken in (or taken out)? I’ll admit I’m kinda lazy (and cheap) about those kind of things. But two years ago, the sole came detached from a pair of my well-loved boots I wore for over 10 years. They sat in my closet sole-less for over a year until I finally decided to take them to a shoe repair shop. Guess what! I’m wearing them all the time again. Totally worth the $20 or whatever I paid to get them fixed. I also had this comfy pair of brown corduroys that I bought from J. Crew a while back. I loved them. Only problem was, they were way too long and since they are wide-legged, they wouldn’t hold a cuff. In the winter they would drag through the salty slush causing bleaching around the hem. Finally, (I don’t know how many years later) I got those puppies hemmed (a mere $12 from a local lady) and they’re back in my fall/winter rotation. I know, inspiring stories right? Give your fashion a second chance!
- Create a Capsule Wardrobe: When I met my husband, he would always wear the same thing: a plain white t-shirt and jeans. He called it his uniform. And while he has since expanded his wardrobe beyond his uniform, he may have been on to something. Steve Jobs was known for always wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. Same with Mark Zuckerberg (although is trademark shirt is usually more of a dark gray). I mean, think about it: How much of what’s in your closet do you really wear? If you’re like me, you probably find yourself reaching for your same favorite pair of jeans and shirt day after day. Which is why I love, love, love the idea of the capsule wardrobe. If you haven’t heard, a capsule wardrobe is a small selection of quality wardrobe pieces that you mix and match. But as much as I love the idea, I can’t seem to commit the pieces that would make up my capsule wardrobe. But I bet you’d be good at it! Give it a try and report back with your tips. Maybe this or this or this will help.
I get it. We all feel great when we look great—and getting new clothes is fun. I’m not asking you to go naked or swear off EVER buying clothes. Baby steps, people! Just try one or two of the ideas above on for size and see how they feel. I have a feeling you’ll find a perfect fit.
Hi, my name’s Amy and I like the planet.
A while back I developed a little (okay, A LOT of) anxiety about the direction it’s heading. (A girl can only take so many stories about record highs, catastrophic storms, plastics in whale stomaches, and coral reef destruction. ) Consider this blog my therapy.
So, here’s what I’m thinking: I’ll post easy little things I try to do to be nicer to the planet. I’ll include some product features. Some meatless Monday recipes. Some interesting news or information (no doom and gloom, swearsies!). And I’ll spotlight companies that are doing cool greenish things.
Alone I can only do so much. But maybe if I share my greenish ideas with you, you’ll want to try them too. Then, you’ll tell your friend about something new you’re trying and your friend will say, “Hey, I think I’ll try that too!” Then, they’ll tell their uncle who’s stock-piling bottled water for end times…and so on, and so on…
And together we’ll save the world. (Yay, us!)