8 Small Changes to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
For the last 4 years I have been slowly educating myself and making small changes to my daily routine to reduce my carbon footprint. I am by no means perfect but, I do feel like I have come a long way when it comes to making better choices for the people and planet. I hope these 8 simple changes help you along your journey to reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Switch from Almond Milk to Oat Milk
This was a hard one for me because my morning ritual game was strong. Every morning I’d wake up and have a cup of coffee with almond milk. I never missed a morning due to my enduring love of coffee BUT I found a better alternative, Oat Milk. You might be asking why is almond milk so bad for the environment? I asked myself the same question and did my research.
Almond trees require an absorbent amount of water to grow, over a trillion gallons per year and 80% of the world's Almonds are produced in California. “Ten percent of California’s total agricultural water supply is used to grow almonds, which equals a whopping 1.1 trillion gallons of water.” California is often dry and known for its droughts which means these almond farmers are having to drill into the earth for her resources in order to keep up with the demand. Not ideal, considering California rests on several fault lines.
Growing oats requires very little water, land, and greenhouse gases which makes this the superior milk alternative for me! While you’re at it make sure your milk alternative is Carrageenan-Free. If you’re not sure what carrageenan is definitely google the ingredient as it has many negative side effects and you should just avoid it all together.
2. Replace your Dryer Sheets with Wool Dryer Balls
I know, I love the smell of a good dryer sheet BUT it's a single use product, and that yummy smell you love could potentially be sending harmful chemicals into the air you're breathing.
The fact alone that it’s a single use product says a lot. When I think of all the dryer sheets I've placed in the trash my mind is blown. How have I not switched to Wool Dryer Balls sooner? Wool dryer balls don’t have to be replaced for 3 years… THREE YEARS. They can also be washed in a mesh bag if you want to freshen them up every once in a while. Missing that yummy fragrance? Drop a few essential oils into your dryer balls, allow the oils to dry, and throw them in with your next dryer load to enjoy the aroma you can’t live without. This was one of the simplest switches for me to make, it was a no brainer.
3. Switch your Chemical Sunscreen to a Mineral based and not just any Mineral based Sunscreen…
The two main culprit ingredients in your sunscreens, amongst others, that are causing our coral reefs to die are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Not only do they disrupt reproduction but they are bleaching our reefs and damaging coral DNA. On top of that, the term “reef-friendly” or “reef safe” is not regulated so it’s really up to us, the consumer, to educate ourselves and stay away from certain ingredients found in over 3500 sunscreens on the market including mineral based ones. Here is a list of ingredients you don’t want to see on your sunscreen bottles
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Any nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium (if it doesn’t explicitly say “micro-sized” or “non-nano” and it can rub in, it’s probably nano-sized)
- Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads”
When choosing a mineral Based sunscreen you want to make sure you find one that says ‘non-nano’. My non-nano mineral based sunscreen of choice is BeautyCounters Countersun Daily sheer Defense for your Face and the Countersun Mineral sunscreen Mist for your body.
4. Replace Paper Towels and Toilet Paper with Bamboo Paper Products
This is one of the easier switches to make. Bamboo is a “highly renewable resource that grows quickly, takes up less space, and uses no fertilizers or pesticides.” There are also several ways to get your hands on them these days. Reelpaper.com is a great brand or check out Thrive Market for options. My hubby and I also invested in an affordable bidet off Amazon that has definitely cut back on the use of toilet paper and I feel so fresh and so clean.
5. Ditch the Fast Fashion Brands and say hello to Slow Fashion
What is fast fashion? Shopping for clothes used to be something you did only when you needed something or grew out of something. Now it’s a hobby and new trends are coming out every other day. Big box brands are mass producing high fashion, celebrity trends and making them accessible at a much lower price point. This might sound great but these big factories are usually paying unfair wages on top of producing in a way that really affects our planet.
According to Business Insider “people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000. Fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What's more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And washing some types of clothes sends thousands of bits of plastic into the ocean.”
Switch shopping Brands like H&M, Forever21, Zara, Victoria Secret, and Old Navy and try out secondhand shopping at places like Depop, Poshmark, threadUp, and Worn Wear by Patagonia. Another way is to shop at small local businesses as their carbon footprint is significantly lower than your large retailers. And lastly, the best resource to check out to find brands that are making better choices for the people and planet is the Good on You app.
6. Use a Guppyfriend while washing synthetic fabrics
Speaking of clothes, did you know that washing certain clothes in the washing machine could be sending thousands of tiny micro plastics into our oceans and rivers? I know I was so bummed to learn about this as I’ve been living in and washing activewear all my life as an athlete. There is however something you can do to make this better. The Guppyfriend washing bag allows you to wash your synthetic fabrics without sending thousands of microplastics into the oceans and rivers. Another plus...using Guppyfriend extends the life of your activewear allowing you to keep those favorite leggings around even longer. It’s a win win for you and the planet!
7. Support Certified B corps
In order to become a Certified B corp and “maintain certification, companies must receive a minimum score from an assessment of social and environmental performance” according to Wikipedia. They need to have public transparency and meet certain social and environmental performance standards. Here is a list of my favorite Certified B corps:
- For all my clean beauty needs I shop Beautycounter
- Thrive Market is great for those everyday necessities like food, meat, supplements, beauty, home supplies, and much more.
- Patagonia for any outdoor gear needs
- Ben & Jerry’s because sometimes you just need a large bowl of your favorite ice cream
- Seventh Generation because it’s easy and I can chose it over another brand while shopping at my local grocery store
8. Ditch the Single Use plastics and Switch to Reusable solutions.Here are a few things you can easily add into your life to replace the single use plastics. Use a reusable water bottle. If you are worried about Hurricanes like I do in Florida, you can stock up on your water in Glass containers before Hurricane season so you don’t have to panic buy cases of water. Buy steel or bamboo straws if you enjoy sipping through a straw. Bring your canvas totes to the grocery store. Try washing up with a bar of soap instead of liquid soap. Mason jars or glass tupperware are a great way to store your leftovers and you can put glass right into the microwave to reheat without the worry of chemicals from plastic melting into your yummy leftovers. Lastly, if you have a little one going to school, pack those sandwiches or snacks in a reusable sandwich bag made of silicone or paper.
I hope some of these suggestions have helped you along in your journey to living a more sustainable life. I know I am not perfect and can certainly improve even more and follow my own advice. If you have more ideas to live more sustainably, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and I hope to connect with you on social media.