I have been lucky to have had some really amazing roommates in my life. Lucky in the sense that we worked as roommates and as friends, and lucky that we’re still friends after they experienced first-hand the level of dedication I have toward recycling. One roommate confessed that she was afraid that I would open the trash and see her plastic water bottle sitting on the top. Rather than get upset, I should have thanked her for letting me collect bags of recyclables in the basement (our complex didn’t have recycling, so i would save it all up and bring the bags to relatives’ houses when I visited).
I’m not going to get political here, but I think we can all agree that humans do things that are not great for the Earth. While it’s not practical for all of us to ditch our cars for bikes, or install solar panels, or live a plastic-free life, there are certainly a ton of small things that we can do that add up to big changes.
– Eat less meat. Americans get plenty of protein in their diets, typically, more than they need. Incorporate Meatless Monday into your week, and you’ll make a huge impact on the Earth. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” And that’s just ONE MEAL. Wow. VegKitchen’s infographic turns plant-based meal planning into a no-brainer.
– Clean green. Vinegar and baking soda do wonders. Method and Mrs. Meyers are great eco-friendly brands; both are vegan and smell amazing. I’m a huge fan of the Mrs. Meyers radish scent. Check out Well Vegan’s blog for a great article with some green cleaning recipes for DIY cleaning concoctions.
– Less plastic. Yeah, I’m looking at you, you ugly plastic grocery bag. Water bottles should be next on your list. The Little House in the City and Remodelista both have some great plastic-free food storage options. Let’s face it. They are sexier than an old takeout container, and way better for you.
– Shop vintage and second-hand. A ton of our furniture is from Craigslist, and I’m not embarrassed one bit. They’re not shoddy pieces. I’m talking about Crate&Barrel, West Elm, and really cool antique pieces. For each piece that we bought from someone else, that’s one less item that needed to be manufactured, and one less item in the landfill. Same goes for clothes. Sure, you won’t find a gem every time you shop, but you can find a lot of great stuff if you look. (I found a pair of Manolos at Savers once!) Besides saving some dough, you will build a truly original home and wardrobe.
– Shop thoughtfully. Real ivory? Nah, I’m cool. There are a ton of high quality faux furs, but if you have to have a real fur, get a vintage one. Support businesses that use ethical materials, like Patagonia’s ethical goose down.
Okay, getting off my soap box now. I have to go patrol the garbage cans to make sure no one tossed a water bottle “by accident.”
(A huge thank you to Alex for indulging my crazy request, and taking the photo above!)