Let’s be honest, living more sustainably in 2018 shouldn’t mean giving up all luxuries and going off-grid. Setting goals doesn’t mean changing overnight, we have to look at our lifestyles and start somewhere. Personally, I want to start with being more aware of my environmental impact, resource consumption, and waste production. Since my past resolutions usually involve some form of diet and exercise regime, let's start there to go through some tips for having a more sustainable year.
Buying local food is a great first step.
Where do you live and what grows there? Our home base in southern Ontario sees corn, berries, root vegetables, beans and legumes thrive in our fertile land. In local markets, I always look for produce grown in the province of Ontario. This way, I not only support small local businesses and farmers, my food also travels less time and distance to my table (not to mention less packaging!). This means that we as a community have a smaller carbon footprint.
Check your travel, transit and transportation.
Start to think about how you get to work, friends’ houses, shops and appointments. How many hours do you spend driving? Taking public transit? Biking? Walking?
When researcher Tobias Schultz was looking to find the most eco-friendly surfboard, he studied the environmental impact of a board throughout its entire life from material to disposal. His most important conclusion, however, had nothing to do with the components of a surfboard. He found that car emissions from driving to the waves are by far the biggest footprint for most surfers.
The way we travel has a huge impact on the environment and there are simple ways to reduce our carbon emission. Let’s start by building awareness around our own carbon footprint. Work on getting the facts and figures on your environmental impact like taking a carbon footprint quiz online. This quiz from footprintcalculator.org is fun, interactive and tells you what your “overshoot” day is this year (the date by which you’ve used more resources than the earth can renew in a year).
Actually, why not just spend more time outside?!
Being outdoors is not only great for your health, with wide-ranging benefits including lower anxiety and higher self-esteem – it’s great for the environment, too! If you can, consider walking, rollerblading, and cycling to work and social engagements. Did you know that outdoorsy people are much more likely to value conservation? This particular tip sounds like a win-win, to me.
Consider eco technology for the home.
If you’re like me and live in a bustling high-rise city centre, it’s hard to think of ways to bring environmental awareness into your tiny flat. Solar power, however, is becoming more and more accessible for us in the city. Take this small solar generator, for example.
Jenni is a solar generator for people who live in high rise buildings or with minimal outdoor space. When you leave your house for the day, simply attach Jenni to your window to generate energy. That way, when you come home, you can charge your technology like laptops, cell phone and music players as usual. The Jenni app will tell you exactly how much solar energy you’re using so you can track your progress.
There are so many more ways to reduce energy and resource consumption at home. Want to reduce the amount of water you use? Try installing a shower timer in your bathroom. Instead of buying single-use batteries, opt for rechargeable and don’t forget the tried and true tips like using LEDs, turning off lights, appliances and water taps when they’re not in use. I know those are a given, but I had to mention them somewhere!
Give your closet a checkup.
While you’re installing your new solar gadget, peek inside your closet. The clothing we buy has a huge and sometimes hidden impact on the environment. If you’re committing to living more sustainably this year, think about how your clothes get to your closet, and where they go when you’re finished with them. Do a google search for eco friendly fashion labels and ask them any or all of these simple questions. If you’re not satisfied with the answers, just move on.
Along with reflecting on how your garment was made, it’s good to start thinking about how it was dyed. Over 8,000 chemicals are used in the garment industry for scouring, bleaching, softening and more, and can be extremely harmful for the environment. If it’s unclear just ask the brand, as a paying customer you deserve an answer. Want to know what we use at TAMGA? Click here.
Then there’s packaging. When you buy your clothes in person or online, does it come with plastic bags, tags, and other throwaway plastic? Do you usually throw out all the boxes and packaging after you’ve received your online delivery? If the company doesn’t use sustainable packaging, consider repurposing the plastic bags and cardboard boxes for other uses like storage, personal mailing and shipping – even gift-wrapping.
Repair and repurpose your wardrobe.
Why stop at repurposing packaging, when you can repurpose your clothes, too? My last tip to live more sustainably this year is something I’ve been doing all my life - repairing and repurposing clothes.
It might be easy for me to say this since I get really attached to my clothes, wearing them until the seams are just barely holding together. Consider sewing up the little holes in socks, snags in sweaters and rips in blouses.
Even if you don’t have special memories attached to your favourite flannel shirt or mini skirt, consider repairing the small imperfections in your clothes instead of throwing them away. If they are beyond functional wear, try repurposing your clothes as rags used for cleaning your house, polishing your shoes and even making new garments, for pets, dolls, and pillow covers! This is not only a great way to get the garment’s full use, but it lets you keep creating special moments with the clothes that make you feel like your best, more sustainable you.