Environment

Step into the New Year Being Green! Easy Changes for your Daily Routine

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The best way to make permanent changes in your habits is to make gradual, small changes.  Think of habits like crash diets.

What happens when you decide you are going to cut out all sugar, carbohydrates, additives, alcohol, etc. from your daily life all at once?

You will very likely fail.

However, if you make a schedule of small gradual changes to take on, like swapping soda for water and cutting down sweets slowly, you are much more likely to succeed.  This is because you are slowly training yourself with new habits, not just depriving your routine of everything that was once ordinary.

I follow the blogs Trash is For Tossers and Going Zero Waste for inspiration and awareness on the next green change I can make to my lifestyle.  It is unrealistic to make my New Year’s resolution to become zero waste. I know that starting tomorrow I will not be able to fit a year’s worth of trash in a mason jar. But, I envy that as the long term inspiration and work towards small tweaks to decrease the trash output from my life.  By making small changes, we can already see differences.  The biggest way to notice for us is that we only put our trash can at the curb every few weeks.

Here are super simple, easy changes to make that will have a big impact.

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Reusable Shopping/Grocery Bags

This one is HUGE and SO EASY. While stores are beginning to offer plastic bag recycling, only 3% are being returned for recycling.  That makes my heart just sink.  Not only are these incredibly damaging to the environment and animals, I find them personally inconvenient.  Each bag holds so little so you have a ton to carry out and go back and forth with trips inside to unpack.  I can do an entire grocery trip for my husband and I with enough food for the week and rarely use more than 3 reusable bags.  I have one on each shoulder, one in my hand and only one trip into the house.  Trust me, when I was living in my third floor apartment by myself, this was huge plus.

In addition to the weight, now you just have more trash and clutter in your house with all the one-use plastic bags.  Instead, I find reusable bags fold back up neatly and look way more organized for next time.

A large majority of big stores now carry these bags for sale, typically only a few dollars each.  If you don’t want to wait until your next trip to buy, here is a great 10 pack option on Amazon for $18.

reusable shopping bags

Reusable Produce Bags

I find these are used much less frequently than reusable grocery bags. Let’s band together to make this more habitual too as produce bags are still plastic bags thrown out and causing waste.  I ordered these about a month ago and keep them in my reusable bags so everything is kept together and easy to grab.

Reusable Water Bottle

Did you know the average family that purchases bottled water spends $1,000 per year on it? This is mind boggling to me for something you can get for free and not waste plastic on. In this earlier post I dive into greater detail about the health and environmental effects bottled water has.

I have carried this water bottle for years and love it.  I tend to be fairly picky with water bottles.  This one has a hook area I can link my finger through for easy carrying between meetings at work. I also look for bottles without complicated openings.  I find the ones that have straws or anything other than a simple snap opening grow mold easily and are difficult to clean. This bottle is BPA free, has a large opening easy to clean, and is easy to carry.

Notice Recyclable Food Packaging

The first step to a greener life in the new year is to reduce consumption.  As you shop, begin to notice the packaging for the foods you buy.  I often see green peppers bundle in a two pack with plastic wrap.  They’re typically not any cheaper than just buying two individual green peppers and using my reusable produce bags.

When you have the option, buy items that are not wrapped in plastic or at least have recyclable packaging.

Challenge Yourself to No Spend Days

I mentioned this in the budgeting post as well.  Compete against yourself or friends for how long you can go without spending.  When I do this, I don’t include recurring bills that must be paid like electric or the mortgage. I’m referring to the unnecessary spending. Say no to that latte on the way to work, brew yourself some coffee or tea beforehand.  See if you can live without that spontaneous purchase of a necklace you walked by. Once you get in the habit, you begin to forget it is even a game.  I have found it has changed my mentality as a whole and I don’t find myself desiring that trip to Home Goods on a Sunday to cure boredom.

Reduce Unnecessary Spending

This ties into the point above but really take note of each and every purchase you make and pause to think if it is necessary.  You will find the things that you used to consider ‘needs’ were really just desires.

 

It is important to begin to learn and change your mentality against buying and consuming. I always considered myself ‘green aware’ and thought I lived a more sustainable life than the average. It was only a little over a year ago when we moved into the house that I was all over decorating blogs for inspiration. All of a sudden I was at Target once a week because I HAD to have that side table, which led to the lamp, which led to the knick knack little artifact that some blog said looked cute. Who was I kidding? It dawned on me that I was green when it was convenient for me to say so. Then when I wanted to decorate my living room with what Target told me was on trend, the consuming bug wooed me again.  Even if it wasn’t Target buying something new, I loved garage sales for little items to decorate with.  While I was reusing items and they were much cheaper, did I really need another trinket for the bookshelf?

Being green isn’t just recycling. It is learning to intentionally consume less.

It was only more recently that the light bulb went off that all my consuming was negating those tiny green habits I may have had. Not only that, I began learning about the beauty of minimalism and changing your understanding of happiness.

As we move into the New Year, what are your green goals?

12 thoughts on “Step into the New Year Being Green! Easy Changes for your Daily Routine

  1. You are totally right about those plastic disposable grocery bags! Once I got in the habit of using my own reusable bags, I now get annoyed if I accidentally get stuck shopping without them. The reusables fit so much more inside than the little flimsy plastic ones and are easier to manage. As for New Year’s green resolutions, I plan to plant some indigenous trees in the side yard – low water consumption and shade providing to lower utility bills (I hope!)

    Happy New Year and all the best in 2018!

    1. I love that idea! Plus it helps with the little ecosystems outside for the birds and insects 🙂

      Happy New Year to you as well, I hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday!

  2. Goal is to make work greener without annoying them! I was on president of our work’s social committee “sunshine” club this past year. The first thing I put on the agenda was to STOP buying plastic water bottles! To sell them on the concept, I put a small ppt presentation together, including You Tube PSAs, and broke down how much it was costing us…AND employee time (sunshine club) buying cases of water each month since we don’t have a vendor bringing them. (That’s what sold management!). So, got everyone into the concept of buying glass pitchers and refillable ice trays and encouraged folks to bring their own drinking glasses, etc. Next on the agenda is the plastic ware! Come on people, we bring our own lunches…grab a fork from home too!

    1. It makes so much sense when you break it down like that! I find it’s just habit for some people to buy bottled, but when you get them to think about it it’s a no brainer to stop. I always bring my own cutlery from home, if im bringing home the glassware to wash why wouldn’t I bring home the fork too?

  3. I agree that after switching to a reusable bag and water bottle in 2017, I’m not looking back! It’s so easy and convenient but makes a big difference.

    My green goal this year is contributing more financially to causes I believe in (putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak). I already do a lot of little things to lessen consumption and this feels like the right next step.

    1. Supporting green causes is often overlooked in the changes to be green. As much as you can make your own small changes, it always helps exponentially to support organizations that are working towards a sustainable future too. Great choice and happy new year!

  4. Great list, and really simple small changes to make as well!

    I always try to keep a reusable bad and produce bag in my backpack. They weigh hardly anything and has made a difference throughout the years!

    Keep being awesome! 😀

  5. Love the intersection of finances and environmental friendly behaviour! I suck at the whole drinking water bottle. I have one at work but I’m constantly between locations, sometimes multiple a day. So it’s been hard to get that habit. I already carry so much I loath adding any more weight (water bottle would be small I know!).

    Re-using bags though, I’ve got down! Yay, some successes. I’m in Canada and they introduced fees some time ago for each bag. So there was a big push for re-usable bags. Nothing like being hit with an extra (though small) fee per bag to change behaviour.

    1. Small steps and being conscious of your actions is what counts! That’s great you’re with the plastic bags, I didn’t know that about Canada. I wish we had the same thing in the US! I know a couple cities have taken the leap to ban them altogether, but that hasn’t spread far yet.

  6. Love reusable produce bags! Love them so much I gave them as a Christmas gift to someone this year :). I myself use them and also reusable shopping bags. But if I buy too many groceries to fit in my one or two bags, they use plastic bags for the rest. Which I then use as my trash can bags in my kitchen. (I like these because they are small so I take the trash out more frequently.) But I have wondered about buying more reusable bags and skipping the plastic bags altogether… but then what would I use for trash bags? Is there any alternative to plastic for that?

    1. I still have that problem where I find I can’t avoid them 100%. Just the other day the grocery store was packed and they were trying to keep lines moving, as I was paying I wasn’t paying attention to the bagger. Turns out there were two trying to get me done faster and one of them just bagged everything in plastic not caring I had my bags ready to go 😑. I acquire them other ways too just if friends bring things to my house in a bag or something. I do the same thing and use them for bathroom small trash cans or for dog waste. I haven’t found a way to avoid them totally, but I do use 100% recycled plastic trash bags. Most of the store ones are virgin plastic, so you may have to look a little harder but they’re out there! Grove Collaborative is where I get mind.

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