Small habit changes can have a big impact on the planet.
Each day presents new opportunities to make small adjustments in our habits and routines that can help us all tread a little more lightly on the planet.
We’ve rounded up tips and tricks to help make some of our favorite habit-changes a little easier to stick to, so they can become second nature.
Single-use plastics last for centuries. Stop them from clogging up nature by making the switch to reusables.
Yes, they’re convenient, but they essentially never go away—only nine percent of all the plastic that’s ever been made has been recycled, and a single plastic water bottle takes 450 years to begin to decompose.
Pick a Tote
- Did you know that the more times you use a reusable bag instead of a disposable plastic one, the more environmentally friendly it becomes?
- A cotton tote benefits nature after 131 uses, which accounts for the footprint of growing the cotton in the first place. A typical fold-up grocery tote is made of made of non-woven polypropylene—it’s less durable, but it starts paying off after just 11 uses.
- If you haven’t worked a reusable cup and water bottle into your routine yet, now’s the time to start—Americans toss an average of 50 billion paper coffee cups into the trash each year. If you get a to-go coffee once a day during the work week, that reusable cup can keep more than 250 cups out of a landfill each year.
Once you’ve gotten into a reusable routine, ask yourself if there’s anywhere else you can eliminate single-use plastics from your life.
- Gather up travel utensils and keep them with you for eating on the go.
- Bring jars and bags from home and hit the bulk bins at the grocery store, waste-free.
- Stow snacks in washable, reusable containers instead of plastic bags.
- In the produce aisle, skip the plastic bags and put your veggies straight into the cart.
- Look for reusable containers for your personal care products. Check out our collaboration with Loop x Ulta.
Once you’ve gotten to a more plastic-free place, you can kick off your next nature-friendly habit change and keep progressing toward a greener way of life, which brings us to our next tip.
Eat More Plants
Making each meal more plant-focused makes a big difference to the planet.
One of the most impactful and healthful choices anyone can make is to prioritize plants at every meal. Eating meat requires livestock, and raising livestock requires vast areas of land, which then becomes home to just a few types of animals rather than being rich in biodiversity and carbon-dioxide-sequestering trees. And, the livestock themselves emit methane, a greenhouse gas.
Eating more plants can help scale back on those impacts, helping the planet and your health in the long run. Here’s how to get started!
Remember Your Why
Making a shift to a more plant-based diet can be a serious challenge, but keeping all the benefits top-of-mind can be really motivating. Eating more plants can help the planet, while also potentially lowering your cholesterol, reducing your risk for developing chronic diseases like heart disease, and helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Rather than thinking about eating less meat, focus on getting to eat veggies in new and really delicious ways. Get busy roasting, grilling, shredding and pureeing. Challenge yourself to try a new type of plant ingredient each week.
And don’t forget to spice things up. Spices, seasonings and herbs are your friend, and can take plant-based meals from basic and boring to completely delicious.
Mark Your Calendars
Try putting a Meatless Monday into your weekly meal-planning rotation. And, because it’s right on the heels of the weekend, you’ll have some built-in free time to prep in advance to make a meat-free day easy to execute.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of working more plants into your meals, think of how you can take it to the next level. Maybe you’re ready to try a vegan weekend, or a whole meatless month (start off the year with Veganuary!)
Try it out and find out what works best for you and your family.
Re-Wild Your Life
The average person spends only seven percent of each day outside. Factor in hours of screen time, and it’s no surprise that so many of us are feeling the negative effects of being disconnected from nature.
It’s been proven that people are generally happier and healthier after they’ve reconnected with nature—one study shows that it just take 120 minutes of outdoor time each week to feel noticeable benefits to your health and wellbeing.
If you’re ready to put yourself back in touch with the outdoors, here’s how to do it.
Take a Nature Break
Set a timer during your work day for an interval that’s doable for you, then take a five-minute walk outside when the timer goes off.
If you can’t go outside, use this time to get up, stretch, and take a long look out your window paired with some deep, restorative breathing.
Whether you’re cycling, running, or taking your yoga practice outdoors, finding an activity you look forward to doing will help you to get out in nature while taking care of your body.
Plant, Tend, Grow
Starting a garden is most hands-on way to stay regularly connected with nature. Plant things that are native to where you live, and watch how they change season to season. If you have land for your garden, consider planting pollinator plants to give local insects a habitat.
You don’t need acres of land to bring nature into your life. Potted plants on your windowsills, photos from your outdoor travels or videos from natural spaces can all have a positive impact on your day.
For all the benefits that re-wilding your life can have for you mentally and physically, it can also connect you with nature in a way that makes you want to do more to help protect our biodiversity, environments and ecosystems.
Cut Food Waste
Tossing food? Not anymore—here’s how to use it up before you have to throw it out.
Food waste happens at every stop in the supply chain, from the farm to the factory to the food store to your fridge. We each feel the sting of throwing out spoiled foods, but large-scale food waste puts a heavy burden on the environment.
According to a study shared by The Washington Post, the average American wastes roughly one pound of food per day. When you put that in terms of national environmental cost, you get 30 million acres of cropland, 4.2 trillion gallons of water and nearly 2 billion pounds of fertilizer that have been used in vain. If you’re ready to cut food waste out of your day-to-day, here’s how to start.
Master Your Grocery List
Make a list each time you go shopping and stick to what you really need. Go ahead and stock up on pantry staples, but only buy the perishables—like fruits, veggies, herbs, meats and seafood—that’ll you’ll be able to use before they spoil. And don’t forget your reusable bag!
Pick the Ugly Veggies
Food waste happens at the grocery store at a rate that’s exponentially higher than in your household. One step you can take while you’re shopping is to seek out the ugly stuff. Grab that oddly shaped, perfectly ripe tomato or twisty, tangled bunch of carrots—ugly produce is still delicious, and if everyone passes it up, it’ll spoil.
Keep it Fresh Longer
Save your herbs from the bottom-of-the-crisper graveyard and try this trick to make them last: Stand herbs up in a container with a little water in the bottom, then store them in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh for days.
Get Smart With Leftovers
One way to use the food you buy and cut down on dining out is to cook in batches and portion out your leftovers. You can freeze portions for later and rotate through your recipes so you don’t get burned out by day three of chili leftovers. When you cook smarter, you waste less!
Pass It Along
When you end up with more food that you can use, turn to Olio. You can upload pictures of what you have to give—all sorts of food and even household goods are fair game—and the app will connect you with neighbors who are interested in taking it off your hands. It’s a feel-good, do-good way of cutting down on waste from your kitchen.
Come Full Circle
Consider composting, if you haven’t already.
You probably have a composting service in your area that’ll do the dirty work for you—services like Compost Now will collect your scraps and do the actual composting, giving you access to quality compost for your garden while keeping your food scraps out of the landfill. The folks at Litterless have put together a list of links to composting services in every state, so take a look and see what’s available in your area.
Next step, watch your water.
Small changes add up—cutting back on water waste can help support nature’s future.
Everyone needs water, of course—the average person uses 88 gallons per day—but it’s a very limited and precious resource. Taking a look at your daily water usage and seeing where you can cut back, conserve or use water more wisely can be eye-opening. Here are a few pointers to help you get started!
Get Some Tech Support
Dropcountr is an app that’s sole purpose is to help you understand and manage your personal water usage. It gives you an overview of your data, which you can compare to similar homes nearby and set new water-conservation goals for your household. Nothing like a little competition to keep you motivated!
Fine-Tune Your Routine
Stick a note on your bathroom mirror as a reminder to turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth and washing your hands. (Bonus points if you do the same for your kitchen sink!)
Look Out for Leaks
We’ve all ignored a leaky faucet or a running toilet at one point or another—but not anymore. Fixing a slow leak in a faucet can save 50+ gallons of water per day, and you’ll save 100 gallons by stopping a toilet leak. Check for leaks this week, and seal them if you find them!
Take Smarter Showers
Shorter showers are a big water-saver, but you can save even more before you ever hop in. Keep a pail or a big bowl in the shower and let water collect while it’s warming up, then use that water to keep pets or plants well hydrated—it’s going down the drain otherwise!
If you want to go the extra mile, switch to a low-flow showerhead to cut your gallons-per-minute in half for every shower you take.
Rethink Your Garden
If you have a garden, think about ways to make your greenery even greener, planet-wise. You can choose drought-resistant plants that require less water to thrive, and keep a thick layer of mulch around plants and trees to help block water evaporation.
Wrangle Those Raindrops
If you’re feeling extra motivated, consider a rain barrel. Some municipalities provide them for free to encourage residents to save water, and there are plenty of installation guides online.
You’ll be able to water your plants with rainwater instead of drinking water—how cool is that? (Also, get ready to say hello to some serious water bill savings.) Look into what’s available near you!
There are so many different ways you can make small updates in your life that support a more sustainable, conscious lifestyle for you and for the planet. We hope you found a few new habits to try and would love to see what sticks!