Realistically Eco-Friendly

My fondest memories as a kid are the times I ran around trying to catch butterflies, went swimming in Lake Michigan, and climbed the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I have always cared for the environment, but after learning from a young age how humanity has disconnected from and degraded the earth for centuries, I was inspired to reflect on my own earth-harming habits and try to correct them. Here are the most straightforward changes I have made to my life that encourage me to produce less waste and be a more conscious consumer (and no, I'm not going to say anything about a metal straw).

Think about your daily waste. I'm putting this first because everyone and their moms have heard these tips, but maybe this reminder will spark you to take action. Recycle any clean paper, plastic, glass, or tin waste, because why would you just throw it away? Compost food/kitchen waste because it is an easy way to help enrich the soil and lower your environmental footprint by reducing methane emissions at the landfill. Stop wasting water. Turn off the sink when brushing your teeth, take shorter showers, and don't leave your sprinklers on all day.

Google? I don't know her. Since my freshman year of high school, I have been using Ecosia, a search engine that uses the profits made from internet searches to plant trees in Ethiopia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Spain. According to the app's settings page, it usually requires 45 searches to plant one tree, and over 97 million trees have been planted by the company. Implementing this tool into my daily life was simple, and it is nice to know that the environment could be better for it. 

Beeswax wrappers. A few years ago, I started feeling guilty about using plastic bags to store food in, so the best solution I found was to make beeswax wrappers. There are many how-to's on YouTube about making beeswax wrappers, but if I can save you the struggle of scraping wax off of your baking pans, please just buy them on Etsy.

Eat less meat. There is significant research on the negative environmental impacts of factory farming, increased CO2 levels from manure, huge water and cattle fed use, and considerable deforestation (most famously in Brazil) to make room for livestock. Since I was around 12 years old, I have tried many different meat-limiting diets. I was vegetarian for 2 years, went fully vegan for six months, went back to eating meat, went vegetarian again, and have finally returned to eating meat again. However, I am now conscious of the meat I consume and try to limit how much I eat. In the future, I hope to sustain a vegetarian diet because I do see the personal and global benefits, but it’s really just not in the cards right now. 

Avoid fast fashion. If I'm being honest, this one is definitely the hardest for me to stick to. Who doesn't want to be rocking the newest and cutest styles? However, shopping at places like Shein, Zaful, Cupshe, and plenty of others promote a message that encourages buyers to spend money on clothes they might wear twice; not to mention the ill-treatment of factory workers at these companies. Investing in quality, classic clothing creates less waste, fights against exploitation of foreign workers, puts less strain on valuable resources, and actually protects your wallet from having to buy new clothes every season.