Five Sustainable Changes You Can Make Right Now - Saltbox Sash

Five Sustainable Changes You Can Make Right Now

Happy Earth Day! Did you know that one of the fair trade principles is respect for the environment? That's because many pieces artisans produce are made with natural, local, and sustainable materials reducing their environmental footprint. In effort to reduce our own environmental footprint, we've been implementing low-waste, sustainable changes to our daily lives over the past few years. The onset of this journey began when I learned how much waste we create daily. Since changing all of our habits felt unrealistic and overwhelming, I decided the best approach would be to start small and swap out products and habits to begin our quest to live a sustainable life. 


Say No To Single-Use Products:  How ironic it is to use something for a moment (a straw or plastic water bottle), but once we throw it out, it lasts hundreds if not thousands of years before it biodegrades. The amount of single-use products on the market today has contributed to our planet's ever-growing trash problem with no end in sight. Although I believe there is a place for single-use products for specific circumstances, our society has become so accustomed to this idea we've become a throw-away society prioritizing convenience over sustainability. If we make the conscious choice to opt for reusable products whenever possible, the environmental impact will be substantial.

Your daily cup of coffee and bottled water are two easy and simple changes you can make. For example, invest in a water filtration system and a reusable thermos instead of buying bottled water, and brew your coffee at home with a reusable mug instead of stopping at a local coffee shop. You'll save time, and money and reduce your environmental footprint. You can also reduce your consumption of single-use products by saving plastic cutlery and paper kitchen products for occasions when necessary and not make it an everyday occurrence. 

Politely Decline Freebies: I've noticed many well-meaning businesses handing out freebies to drum up sales and marketing for their brand. Items such as t-shirts, pens, keychains, stickers, mugs, and magnets are distributed at community events, markets, conferences, and even at doctor offices. We accept them because everyone loves a good freebie, but let's face it, we lose value for them the moment they enter our home and end up in one of two places: the landfill or they remain in our homes as clutter. I only accept freebies if they are consumable, for example, food samples, something I can use up like soap, or an item I know I can use. Otherwise, I politely decline and take the time to ask the salesperson about their business if I'm interested, or I'll ask for a business card for future reference.


Watch Your Inventory: Although I try to live by the in-one-out rule, I'm always fascinated and frustrated by the inventory we end up with if we're not careful. Food, personal hygiene products, make-up, stationary, and household cleaners can creep up. I realized the culprit of my irritation was stocking up on these items when there was a sale. Don't get me wrong, stocking up can be a smart way to save money, but before we buy ten bottles of shampoo or twelve cans of food, we must consider two ideas first.

The first is, "Will I use this item before it expires," and the second is, "Do I have enough room to stock these items in my home." If we don't use an item because it didn't perform well or expired before we had a chance to use it, then that product costs us money and becomes unnecessary trash. Also, if we're stuffing our closets and cabinets with items we don't have the space for, it's costing us our peace of mind because clutter is scientifically proven to cause stress. So the next time a sale is happening, and you're tempted to stock up, resist the urge unless you're sure you will get through it all and have the space for storage. There will always be another sale.


Use It Up: I read that a good measure of a sustainable article of clothing is 30-45 wears, and that got me thinking about how we buy, use, and discard so many other products that end up in landfills. As we continue to be bombarded by ads selling cheap, mass-produced products, the concept of using things up is a skill our society is slowly losing. We buy new and throw away the old instead of using an item to the end of its life by caring for and repairing it the way prior generations did.

I find this concept challenging in some ways since so many products just aren't produced with the same quality and standards they once were. This results in the repair being more costly or costing just as much as a new item, leaving us in an impossible situation. The best we can do here is to buy the best quality you can afford, take care of that item, and repair it if necessary before sending it to the landfill.

Plan: My shopping trips used to consist of me roaming stores or markets looking for something, but that would usually lead to me buying things I didn't want or need. It may have seemed fun at the moment, or maybe the item was on sale, or I thought this or that might look cute in my living room. The result was a lot of stuff piling up with no plan or place in our home.

Once I realized how wasteful this practice is for the planet, my time, and money, I made the decision to shop with intention instead of mindlessly shopping. I try to support ethical businesses that align with my values, or I'll shop secondhand. Having said that, there's nothing wrong with making a spontaneous purchase here and there, but reducing our mindless shopping will have a positive impact on our planet, our homes and wallets.

I hope you enjoyed this post and will consider trying a few ideas for yourself as you begin or continue on your sustainable journey.




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