Sustainability, at first, can be a hard concept to grasp. It is very broad and, therefore, encompasses many different elements. However, I am solely going to focus on small scale sustainability—in other words, to greatly reduce individual impact on the environment. This will be accomplished by reducing one’s waste through alternative, more eco-friendly methods than what many currently use on a daily basis.
So, if any of you are as OBSESSED with sustainability as I am, you’ve probably realized that continuing this lifestyle into the fall and winter months is a tad more difficult than it is during the summer and spring. This is due to the reduction in fresh, unpackaged fruit and vegetables being produced and sold, shorter days and less time to accomplish everything. With days being shorter and motivation to accomplish tasks lower, reducing one’s waste is not at the top of many people’s priority list during these months. However, I have a few simple and easy tips that can help you continue on your sustainable journey or help you to begin yours.
What’s one thing that every girl, correction, HUMAN needs during fall? A Pumpkin Spice Latte, that’s what (Also applicable to a hot chocolate or your favorite winter mocha!). However, purchasing one of these delicious, Thanksgiving-flavored masterpieces produces waste (i.e. cup, lid and sleeve). In order to reduce this unnecessary waste from entering the environment, bring your own mug/thermos! Simply bring your portable cup with you to your local coffee shop and ask to have it filled (Pro-tip: sometimes businesses give you a discount if you bring your own mug! *wink, wink*). An item like this is a must for any environmentally conscious person, AND they’re well-worth the investment.
The next item on my list also deals with food products because let’s be real, food is practically all I think about. As good as a couple pints of Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked Ice Cream may sound, Planet Earth will not thank you for your sweet-tooth. The best way to avoid turning into an over large bear and retreating into hibernation during the fall/winter months is purchase fruits and vegetables that are in season during this time. Usually, grocery stores have a few very delicious options for fresh food during this time of the year (Clementines, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, squash, etc.) By purchasing these items package-free as an alternative to other choices, you can greatly reduce waste produced and simultaneously support local farmers. It’s a win, win ;)! (However, if you do need a couple pints of Ben and Jerry’s after a really hard midterm, then definitely TREAT YO SELF, GURL!)
Since days are shorter, and the need to accomplish daily tasks is becoming more of a hassel, purchasing fast food seems like the easiest option when it comes to fulfilling dietary needs. Something that I recommend doing is purchasing filling varieties of food in bulk and preparing them in advance; this will save you time and allow your breakfasts, lunches and dinners to be one-of-a-kind everyday! Bring a meal in a container and heat it up in a microwave! It’s simple and will warm you up.
Many sustainable practices are fairly repetitive and straightforward. Simply step back and take a look at your consumption and evaluate it. It’s easy to find alternatives to everyday items whose lifespan, while in your possession, lasts anywhere from one day to one year—only to eventually end up in a landfill, a surrounding ecosystem and eventually even the ocean. So, follow these steps to make your fall and winter months enjoyable and sustainable.