#1: Resist Fast Fashion
Where there once were 4 seasons, global fashion retailers are pushing more and more fashion cycles in an effort to get you to buy cheap clothing more frequently. There is a hidden cost behind those clothes. Nearly all clothing is made from either petroleum - in the form of polyester - or cotton.
Unless it is organic cotton, it is genetically modified to resist cancer-causing pesticides that sicken workers who are directly exposed, end up in your food supply, pollute waterways, and are absorbed by your skin with long term negative health consequences.
Because the garments are so cheap, we don't think twice about discarding it. On average, each of us throws away more than 70 pounds of clothing every year. Tons of clothing ends up in landfills to make space for the next cycle of fast fashion. Most of what is donated has the same faith. Only a fraction of what is donated actually makes it way back onto the body of another person.
The only solution is to stop the cycle. Instead, invest in a thoughtfully curated capsule collection of sustainably and ethically made clothing that stands the test of time in both durability and fashionability.
Guys: We may have a little easier here. Admittedly, my daily OOTD consists of a pair of Saxx boxer briefs, Allmade v-neck tee, Bluer Denim selvage jeans, and Allbird Tree Runner shoes. I own a couple of casual and dress shirts, all in neutral colors that I can mix and match without a clash. I can reach into my wardrobe blindfolded and come out looking sharp(ish).
My whole wardrobe also fits into a carryon suitcase which is mighty helpful when you live in a tiny house and find yourself traveling a lot.
#2: Stay Put, Get Moving, Travel Less
That leads me to the next area of opportunity: Transportation. I fail in this area since I fly significantly more than average and, at least for now, I live in an area where alternatives to using my car are simply not available or not feasible.
Using a bike, going by foot, using public transportation, or even using the increasingly popular battery-powered step scooters that are seemingly overnight popping up everywhere offers great co2 impact advantage over driving a personal vehicle.
With bike lanes becoming more prevalent in cities across the country, the number of people opting to hop on a bike instead of jump in a car has increased dramatically in the last few years. There are now more than 65 million of us that cycle on a regular basis.
Air travel multiplies your carbon footprint dramatically. If you fly for work or pleasure, air travel is probably responsible for the largest part of your carbon footprint. Avoid it if you can. Be considerate if you can't. Since landings and takeoffs use more fuel and produce more emissions use nonstop flights whenever possible. For shorter trips, driving emits fewer greenhouse gasses.
#3: Stop (or Reduce) Consumption of Animal Products
I vividly remember the very moment someone called out that you can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat. It simply doesn’t go together. The single biggest contribution to the global climate crisis is our consumption of animal products, including seafood and dairy.
Its contribution is greater than all transportation combined. Industrialized agriculture is responsible for more deforestation than every other contributor. It is the single largest consumer of freshwater resources, using more than 5000 gallons for a single pound of beef. It contributes to more air pollution than anything else. All by a long shot.
So, should you go vegan? Well… yes, you should. But it is hard. At a minimum, reduce your consumption. Reduce portion sizes, opt for meatless Mondays, look for the increasing options for dairy alternatives in the supermarket.
#4: Kill The Vampire
It might surprise you to learn that essentially every cord that remains plugged into an outlet even when the device is turned off or in standby mode is pulling electricity. In the U.S. alone, “vampire power” is responsible for draining up to $19 billion in energy every year.
The connectivity of technology is part of why our devices leak energy. Even when the TV is off, for example, it’s still ready to receive a signal from the remote to power on at any time. Regularly available power means your devices can respond quickly when you decide to use them. This feature comes at a cost, both in terms of your electric bill and less noticeably your carbon footprint.
Most households have many devices that use vampire power in standby mode. Simple solution? Leave your electronics unplugged at all times, unless you’re actually using them.
#5: Clean Is The New Dirty
We clean our clothing and our bodies much more often than is necessary. Let’s address the less controversial of these two here.
Denim aficionados argue passionately about whether jeans should be washed at all, ever. They go to great lengths to avoid having to use the dreaded washing machine and ruin their precious fades. They may be taking it a bit too far. At some point friction from dust and oils that build up between the fibers degrade the fabric more than a rinse would.
That said, the average washing machine uses 13,500 gallons of water per year. That is as much water as you will drink in your lifetime. Not all garments need to be washed after each wear. Working at a computer, which most of us do, doesn’t cause soiled clothes unless you spill your cup of coffee. Towels that are used to dry your just cleaned body don’t need to be washed each time either. Instead, air it out or hang to dry and wear it again.
90% of energy consumed for washing comes from heating water. Modern detergents - make sure you use an eco-friendly one - are optimized for cold water washing. The tumble dryer is responsible for 90% of the energy used for the laundry process overall. You can accomplish a 99% energy savings by washing cold and hang drying.
Hang drying has the added benefit that your clothes will last much longer. Nothing is more destructive to fabric than a tumble dryer. Just look at how much fiber is collected in your filter each time you use it.
We all know that we should recycle. Duh. No brainer. So instead of giving you the talk about using the big blue bin, here are some tips on how to recycle BETTER.
- Make sure it’s clean! One single dirty product can contaminate an entire bale. It can ultimately cause recyclable items to get redirected into a landfill.
- Flatten cardboard. This will save space in your bin and make room for more recycling.
- Set up designated recycling containers at home, work, and school.
- Look for products made out of recycled materials when you shop.
- Identify which types of plastic your building and neighborhood will accept.
- Before you recycle, think about reducing your waste and re-using items in a new way.
- Local artists and schools might be able to use your materials for their work and classes.
- Spread the word! Encourage others to recycle with you.
#7: Give your home a sustainable upgrade.
Some improvements can be done immediately and are cost-free; others will take longer and require more investment. Many of the improvements can be applied when renovating, or for new builds:
- Put up energy saving bulbs in the house. Energy is saved when incandescent light bulbs are replaced with compact fluorescent lamps or LED bulbs.
- Installation of solar panels and temperature regulating walls. It will make the house to be more eco-friendly and make the house cooler.
- Building compost for kitchen waste. Compost for a kitchen waste will help to reduce the amount of household waste in landfills and reducing the costs associated with collection of wastes.
- Choose appliances that have more energy-efficiency. Swapping of the regular electrical appliances with energy-saving certified products is highly desirable for a sustainable house.
- Insulation of walls and the floor and having a ceiling board. This will help to aid in cooling purposely to save on energy costs. Insulation will help in saving money on energy bills and make the house more comfortable because insulation will bar heat passing in and out of the house. It will maintain a comfortable temperature inside regardless of the outside temperature. Insulation allows the temperature to remain balanced even in winter or summer.