Updated: Jul 22, 2020
I’m sure many of you have already seen the photo above circulating online, had a confused Jackie Chan meme moment, and thought WTFREAK is wrong with humans??? I wonder, how is it that while we are on a statewide lockdown, humans still manage to make a mess when they do go outdoors for essentials? We might not be able to change other people’s actions, but we can do our part to be more mindful about how we each can reduce the waste that we are creating while in quarantine. My hope is that in doing our part we can counteract the damage that others are causing and inspire more people to take the lead and start caring for our earth too. The earth has given us so much: all these beautful destinations for us to travel to and see, soil to grow food for nourishment, and materials for our shelter. Let's take care of it people! I’ve come up with a list of habits we can try to lock in on while in lockdown!
Reminder to you: I know that there is quite a bit of info on here, I kinda went allllll in heh! But if you can find even just one new sustainable habit to try from this list, you're doing what you can and that's awesome! Pick the sustainable tips that work best and mesh well with the lifestyle that you want for yourself and be CREATIVE and have fun with it :) My message with this blog post is just to spread awareness on how we can help the planet heal. If you're on board and are able, thank you so much. *virtual/6 feet away high five*
To make it easier to navigate through this post, I've created 8 sections for y'all down below in the color teal if you'd like to skip around to whichever parts you may be most interested in (:
⭐️TABLE OF CONTENTS⭐️
staying sustainable while:
1. ordering takeout
2. bringing your lunch
3. grocery shopping
4. in the kitchen
5. in the bathroom
6. doing laundry
7. thinking of your next diy project
8. (my fav) SHOPPING <333
1. FOR ORDERING TAKE OUT
If you are going to support a local business and order take out, request that they don’t need to include napkins and utensils. You’re eating at home after all. Don't forget to thank the employees for continuing to work during quarantine (:
2. FOR BRINGING YOUR LUNCH
If you are an essential worker and prepare your lunch for work, try packing your own reusables instead of disposables. i.e. reusable utensils, reusable dishware, reusable water bottle, reusable napkins, and reusable containers.
(I bring mini utensils from Miniso that I pack in a 7.5 x 4.5 reusable silicon snack bag in the color agave that I purchased from Package Free Shop. This size only fits minis, so I would suggest a bigger size for normal sized utensils or to properly fit a reusable straw. I chose silicone so that it could easily be washed at the end of the day.)
3. FOR GROCERY SHOPPING
I know in Cali, reusable bags are banned at grocery stores during the lockdown. However, a grocery store clerk told me to just use the cart to transport all of my groceries back to my car so that I don’t need to use plastic bags. If I leave my reusable bags in the car while I’m shopping, I can then fill them up once I start unloading my groceries so it’ll be easier to carry inside my home (:
(Continue to say no to plastic, but just leave your reusable bags in the car to fillup later.)
Additionally during this time, maybe check out a zero waste store or grocery store to find essentials that are not packaged, minimally packaged or packaged without plastic. A blog called Litterless is an amazing resource for such stores. I have checked out both the stores listed in San Diego, Earthwell Refill and Ocean Beach's People's Organic Food Market.
4. FOR THE KITCHEN
a. Meatless Mondays: Have you heard of it? You don't eat meat for one day a week, just on Mondays and it's said to be better for your health and for the environment. I think this is a great alternative for those who are meat eaters, who don't entirely want to give up their lifestyle, but may want the benefits that a plant based lifestyle can provide. If you'd like more info:
why monday's? - click here
how's it good for my health? - click here
if you're wondering what good it does for the environment? - click here
If you want to find fun vegan recipes to try, please visit the charismatic @iamtabithabrown on instagram. She is a HOOT. After watching her cooking clips, you'll be quoting her saying "cause that's yo business" and "like so like that" hahaha! Her recipes look so damn tasty and flavorful!
For her video that went viral on buzzfeedtasty during quarantine - click here
b. Start a compost pile of all of your produce scraps.
for composting made easy read this article by HGTV - click here
5. FOR THE BATHROOM
a. Start a bathroom compost - a bin for 100% cotton rounds and q-tips, nail clippings that are free from nail polish, and loose hairs (Yuck I know, but it’s compostable! You were gonna trash it anyways right?? Why not use it to create some nutrient rich soil for your plant babies?)
(photo from Anthropologie. This is the Bamboozle Compost Bin in the color granite. I believe that it's meant to be a kitchen compost, but I think it's so simple and and the granite color would look so chic in the bathroom. This is on my wishlist because it's made of biodegredable bamboo and has a carbon filter to prevent smells. It's a pretty pricey for $42 and I know you can get ones for half the price OR make one yourself with what you have at home, but damn do I love this look so better than the tin ones I've seen for sale on other websites online.)
b. When washing your hands, use a kitchen towel to dry up instead of single use paper towels. Maybe even look into reusable papertowels or ones that are made of recycled paper.
(photo from Well Earth Goods. On my wishlist are the NotPaper Towels - 12 pack in light grey. They are reusable, but also if and when you no longer need them, they are 100% biodegredable since they are made of 100% cotton. Love that!)
c. Use recycled toilet paper if you can and if available in store - I’ve used Seventh Generation from Target. It was 2-ply so it wasn’t rough and didn't break apart. It is made from minimum 50% recycled paper, so less trees are harmed in the making.
(photo from Tarjay)
d. Challenge yourself to taking a 5 min shower. Maybe give this a try for the days that you’re not washing your hair and just doing a body shower. If it's not freezing, don't forget to turn the faucet off when you're shampooing/lathering. I didn't realize that that was a thing that people mainly do in America (let the water run continuously during a shower eeps).
e. Go eco-friendly with your dental hygiene. The changes that I've made are purchasing a bamboo toothbrush from Brush with Bamboo, compostable dental floss from Dental Lace, and Toothy Tabs from Lush. Additionally, I have been interested in refillable toothpaste from my local refill store if I just bring my own jar.
(I got my refillable glass floss container with two spools of compostable floss from Dental Lace. If you are a student, you can use the discount code: zerowastestudent for 10% off).
f. Go bamboo! Doing so is more sustainable because bamboo grows fairly quickly and is compostable too. You can find bamboo toothbrushes, hair brushes, combs, and cleaning tools amongst other things. Shopping for items that are compostable and can safely return to the earth is the way to go. This isn't just limited to bamboo, but other plant products as well :)
(The brand of this toothbrush is Brush with Bamboo, which you can buy directly from their website, but I bought mine from Package Free because I had a couple other things to buy from there and wanted just one package to ship out.)
g. Low on shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion? Bring your old bottles and fill up at your local refill store. Earthwell in San Diego buys in bulk containers so that there is less plastic waste and also have various eco-friendly products for purchase. You can even bring a mason jar in to fill up on toothpaste and teeth whitening pastes. If you're from SD, I know that they are still currently open during the lockdown! I am asking you once again to check out Litterless to find your closest refill store in your city if you are living in the U.S.
(photos from my visit to Earthwell, San Diego)
6. FOR THE LAUNDRY
a. Consider a filter bag for when you wash your laundry. Did you know that your synthetic fabrics in your clothes will release microplastic particles that end up in the ocean? Guppyfriend's washing bag is something you put your clothes in before you put them in the washing machine and it will catch all of the particles that break off from your clothes as they are being washed. These filter bags are being sold directly on the Guppyfriend website as well on REI and Patagonia.
(photo from Guppyfriend's website. I am still debating on purchasing these or an energy saving foot powered washing machine OR a filter attachment that I can add onto my landry machine.)
b. Hang dry your clothes to save energy and to not have to use dryer sheets.
c. Handwash certain articles of clothing that are easy to wash (i.e. your underoos) as an additional way to save energy.
d. Additionally I have seen eco-friendly laundry detergent strips! Company's are getting real creative with these sustainable changes. I'm sure you'll find a variety of eco-conscious alternatives if you take a lil time to search :)
7. FOR A FUN DIY PROJECT
a. Repurpose old things around the house into something new! i.e. a piece of furniture or clothing. My sister used our old t-shirts/fabrics to make face masks.
- She used this pattern
- And followed this youtube video
b. Look up a DIY zero-waste all purpose cleaning solution for the household on Pinterest or other sustainable DIY products to try.
c. DIY some home decor or give an old piece of furniture new life. I love watching XO, MaCenna on youtube for inspo and ideas.
8. FOR SHOPPING (esp online shopping during quarantine)
Rule #1: REDUCE & REUSE
If you don't need it or if it's something that you don't absolutely love and can live without, don't buy it. For me, if it's not a necessity and I am debating on purchasing something, the item absolutely needs to SPEAK TO ME! LOL! I have to have that actualization that I'll be torn without it in my life hahaha! Coming from a self-proclaimed shopaholic, how then can we shop more sustainably? Matter of factly, the number one way to be sustainable and create less waste is actually REDUCING what we buy. If you can reduce what you buy and RE-USE what you already have at home, repurpose something or buy secondhand, then you are totally already winning! You're doing great sweetly! Realistically speaking, I know we all have our wants and needs, things break, things run out, and sometimes we need new things! So, I have put together some tips you can use to be more mindful when it comes to making purchases that keep the planet and employees involved in making your items in mind. This leads me to the second rule: If you must buy, then RESEARCH the companies that you are buying from ⬇️
Rule #2 DO 👏🏼YOUR 👏🏼RESEARCH👏🏼
I know during this time a lot of us are bored shopping or stress shopping. But if you’re going to shop, support your small businesses and if you’re going to shop from big businesses try to research the integrity of the companies from which you are supporting. I challenge you to actually learn about the companies that you are shopping from. I want to know that I am supporting a company that cares about the impact they are making, especially during this difficult time. Are they supporting their employees, uplifting communities, and not causing additional harm to our environment? Never be afraid to question things. I’ll give you ideas of some things you can ask yourself and think about when shopping, down below:
a. If you are online shopping, how are these companies mailing their packages to you? - When they mail your package out are they thinking of ways to reduce their carbon footprint? Do they offer carbon neutral shipping, where they will offset the carbon emission released when your package is being transported by investing in emission redution projects? Are they using recycled or biodegradable mailers and non-toxic dyes for their inks? Or with each package are we just stocking up on plastic wrap during this quarantine?
(recycled box from Package Free)
b. Are these companies transparent and ethical in regards to each step of manufacturing their products? Are they able to answer the questions of who, what, where, when, how, and why?
I will use the example of purchasing clothing in examples i-vi.
i. Who? - Who is producing your clothing? Is the company being transparent about the ethical treatment of their employees? Look at a company’s ABOUT section on their website. Key terms to look for are “Fair Trade,” “B Corp,” and “SA8000 certified factory.” These are companies that care <3
(photo from Made Trade website)
ii. What? - What materials are they using? Synthetic materials are created using harsh chemical processes and when used in clothing, these materials break off and aren’t biodegradable. I have been trying to invest in materials that are natural, nontoxic, organic and or compostable. Perhaps this is clothing that is made of 100% organic cotton or made of woodpulp such as tencel. Maybe this is a loofa made of plant fibers, a bag made of vegetables or a dish scrubber made of bamboo. Since all of these are made of natural materials, they can safely return to the earth when their use is done.
(100% compostable iphone 11 Max pro case by Pela Case)
iii. Where? - Are these companies transparent about where their farms and factories are located? Do they actually name the producers and manufacturers who are the core of the production of their materials and products? Or at the least do they mention any certifications that their factories or farms are in compliance with to insure that their farmers and factory workers are given fair wages and working conditions? This is important because some companies will outsource production in order to keep costs low, but this may mean these workers aren’t getting paid fair wages. Always do your research and find out where your items especially clothing are being made.
(photo from Reformation website)
iv. When? - When the going gets tough, what are these companies focusing on? This is especially important during the pandemic. Have they closed up shop until it is safer for their employees to be at work or if they are still in operation, are they providing their employees with the proper protective equipment and ensuring their safety during this time?
(note to customers posted on the Reformation website about COVID-19)
Thank you to all the companies who have donated food, supplies, and clothes to healthcare workers and to those in need. Thank you to the companies who made their employee's safety and health during this pandemic their number one priority. Thank you to those businesses who have implemented extra measures in the workplace to protect customers.
v. How? - How is the process to make your clothing? i.e. are the materials needed being made without pesticides and in ways that are not harmful to the environment?
(photo from KOTN website)
vi. Why? - What is the company’s WHY? Why did they want to start their business (their purpose)? Aside from selling you a product, what is their bigger purpose? I think it’s a great idea to look into and support companies that create a balance between profit and purpose. Did they create this specific product for a reason? Do they give back to the community? What are this company’s goals and do they align with your own beliefs?
(from Package Free website)
c. Have these companies set up recycling programs? Before we buy a product, try to think of the end of life will be for it. Can it be upcycled and used for something else? Can it be recycled? See if the company you’re shopping at has a recycling program in place. Examples:
i. Ilia - They are a makeup company that sells clean, vegan beauty products that are placed in sustainable packaging. They also will allow you to turn in empty makeup containers from their brand as well as from any other brand for them to properly recycle!
Here’s their recycling page.
ii. H&M - I have also seen stores like H&M have a clothing recycling program in place where you can give your old clothes to them so that it won’t end up in a landfill. You can also receive a voucher for doing so. Though I haven't shopped from them in forever, it's nice to know that there is a place where you can recycle your textiles to in-store. Here's more info on their garnment collecting program.
iii. Girlfriend collective - They accept their old workout gear to be turned into new ones. You just have to buy the shipping label for $7. Here's their recycling program.
d. Are you being purposeful with your shopping and spending? Try to buy things that you need and or absolutely love and will take care of. I know it is unrealistic to be 100% sustainable and buy only eco-friendly items. So when you do buy other types of products, try to make sure that it’s really something that’ll give you joy for the long haul.
These are the Aerie Play Real Me High Wasted 7/8 Leggings and the Aerie Play Shine High Wasted Biker Short from Aerie by American Eagle. I had learned that some of the Play Leggings are made of recycled material however when I asked customer service, they confirmed that these ones weren't. Though I was bummed out about that, I must say these are the BEST leggings I have ever owned. They are super soft and silky smooth to the touch, wicking, breatheable and lightweight. I'm so comfortable in these leggings and I love that they aren't compression ones so they roll off and on soooo easily. They also make my lil bootay look alrightttt if I may say so! HAHA I digress! So back to sustainability. No, the materials to make these leggings aren't sustainable in the least bit. Not gonna front about that. But, it definitely is a purchase that I was so pleased with the quality of and will definitely take care of well and use lots. I just need to keep in mind that I should wash them in a filter bag if possible since they are made of synthetic materials.
e. Are you investing in quality? - If ya have a lil extra $ and can afford to do so, purchase items that you know will last. You get what you pay for is such a true statement. You want to make sure that your purchase lasts physically in that it was crafted well and also lasting in that it will stand the test of time and trends i.e. it isn’t just a trend that will go away and now you have no use for the item. If possible, avoid fast fashion that was made cheaply and will likely end up in the trash because it broke or tore apart so easily. Because these items were so cheap to make, it is quite possible that the workers making those clothes aren’t getting paid very much because think about it, how could they when the garment was being sold at a super discounted price to begin with?
(If we're talkin' quality, this is my prized possession right now lol! This is the Let's Smock About It Cropped Hoodie in light heather gray from Beyond Yoga made of 100% cotton responsibly sourced from Peru. And my goshhhh, it is the softest cotton hoodie I've eva eva owned! I can tell they spent their time making this hoodie because the quality is amazing).
Disclaimer/something to think about: I'm gunna be real with y'all though and say, that the above hoodie was really a splurge for me at that price point, especially with how much I would typically spend with a hoodie. But I had a lil extra $ saved to buy it and really wanted it. So I gotta say that with all the tips, that I have given, please DO make sure that you are spending within your means. It's totally understandable that you may want to break away from fast fashion, but that money can be an issue. Something may be better quality, but also much more expensive. I think this is where companies need to try to meet consumers half way. Can they produce a quality item that they can sell at a reasonable price point, all while taking care of their employees and the environment? Are such items accessible or are they available for only certain groups who can afford it? You also may wonder do some of these companies even care about all of that at all? With outside factors like that which can hinder one from being a more sustainable shopper, please don't be hard on yourself if certain sustainable tips might not be feasible for you. Maybe you're making another sustainable change in a different part of your life. We're all people trying to make a change and whatever change you're making KNOW that you are still doing something & it is much appreciated! I just had to point that out regarding ANY of the tips on this page. If you can and you're able to make a sustainable change, that's wonderful. And if you've read something that you can't do, but you're doing your best in what way you CAN do, that's AMAZING too!
Let's help the world heal.
Thank you for doing your best for our earth 💗🌎,