One of the toughest parts of any sustainability journey is trekking through murky messaging. Between greenwashing and do-this-not-that advice columns, it’s hard to know what actually makes an impact.
How to be More SustainableWhile we’re certainly not perfect, we do our best to leave the smallest footprint possible and have learned a thing or two along the way. That’s why we’ll be the first to admit that planet-friendly clothes are only part of the personal change puzzle on how to be more sustainable. Living sustainably means being deliberate about your daily choices (environmental, economic, and social) in either a gradual shift or big ‘ole leap. Because no matter what choices you make to fit your lifestyle, the most important thing is trying.
Here are a few of our favorite environmental and personal sustainability ideas to get started (you got this!):
Green Tips For The Household
Small, and often money-saving, sustainable living tips that can make a big difference:
- LED Light Bulbs – Making the switch to all LED bulbs in an inexpensive way to reduce your energy footprint. On average, lighting (especially in the winter) makes up 9% of a typical home’s energy use! Look for Energy Star rated products (they use at least 75% less energy while lasting 25x longer than incandescent lights).
- Zero Waste – Try swapping plastic water bottles and food storage bags for reusable options, like stainless steel bottles or silicone food bags. Challenge yourself to use less paper towels by drying your hands with washable hand towels and cleaning counters with Swedish dish cloths (there’s a ton of fun patterns out there).
- Go Paperless – Most bills have a “paperless” option, sending the bill directly to your email inbox instead of your mailbox. It’s a small change that saves a whole lotta paper.
- General Maintenance – Mundane tasks like fixing that leaking faucet or sealing gaps around doors and windows can go a long way. Leaky faucets and toilets can waste up to 90 gallons of water per day! Gaps around doors and windows let heat escape during winter months, often causing your heater to use more energy running frequently while spiking the cost of your heat bill.
- Reducing Water – Beyond using less water to green up the yard, try taking shorter showers (or better yet, take a bath! It actually uses less water) and washing full loads of dishes and clothes. Want to take it a step further? We believe in wearing more, washing less – spot clean clothes and seek out options with anti-stank properties (like TENCEL™ Lyocell).
Personal Actions For Greater Impact
Looking to take the next steps the planet? A great place to start is looking at your lifestyle choices, including how you shop (sustainably made items for the win).
Eat Less Meat – This is a huge one. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, the livestock sector contributes to 14.5% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Beef and cattle milk production amount for the majority of this (40% and 20% respectively) and feed production and processing also play a large role.
Cutting meat consumption (hello meatless Mondays), leaning into smaller portion sizes of meat, and swapping a different protein source in, like legumes, can make an impact.
Purchase Local & In Season – Did you know that certain produce still grows in winter? Fun fact: kale can withstand temps down to 20 degrees! From produce to seafood, get to know what’s in season and where it can from. When food is grown nearby, it spends less time in transit to your kitchen, lowering its overall emissions (versus shipping strawberries from a different state). Leaning into in seasonal veggies and fruits ensures you get the freshest produce that has probably traveled the least amount of distance. In the case of seafood, supporting sustainably caught fish and crustaceans impacts overfishing and can influence imports.
This also goes beyond fresh food – look for pantry staples that were produced locally, from ketchup to snacks.
Support Change – Supporting companies that are making a difference can speak volumes. Spending your hard-earned money at shops that back environmental (and social) good shows that they have value. It’s a push for supplies to source responsible products, which then drives change in the industry. To get started, look for companies who are part of 1% For The Planet, giving 1% of their proceeds back to environmental nonprofits.
Sometimes, despite our best intentions, knowing if we’re making the right decision can be time-consuming and difficult. These are just a few of our favorite resources for living sustainability, from apps to websites:
- Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch – An easy way to check labels and make the best choices for fish and other seafood. They even have regional guides for which fish are responsible to purchase in your region.
- Carbon Tracking Apps – Track your carbon footprint and learn how to spend sustainably. Commons is one of our favorites (and it doesn’t share your data).
- Fight Food Waste – Yup, there’s an app for that! Too Good To Go connects you with food surplus from grocery stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants at a significantly reduced cost. Add your location and choose anything from a surprise bag of unsold baked goods to an oops-we-made-extra dinner, generally for under $10. Bonus – they’re also a Certified B Corp.
- Books – If you’re looking for a how-to guide, deeper dive into equity through sustainability, or a personal green story, there’s a book for you. One of our favorite roundups is over on Good, Good, Good.
Real Life Sustainability
We are proud members of 1% For The Planet and support both local and national eco-friendly and social good organizations. We also keep good company and love cheering on those who are doing good. Several of our rad Ambassadors also happen to be planet protectors and are a great place to start for inspiration on making a difference.
- Dan Hulst, Stewardship Director of Ventura Land Trust – A former member of the Toad Team who now works to steward 3,800 acres of land in the Ventura region of California. “And maybe most importantly, try and connect with people. If someone has a radically different viewpoint than you, try and understand why they think that way. The less divided we are, the more progress we will make.”
- Becky Nesel, @GeoBeckly - A geologist based in New York whose science communication work sparks curiosity for STEM (and cool rocks). “At its core, science communication is a bridge that connects scientific research, often inaccessible academic language, and the voices of scientists themselves, with the general public. Not only is it relaying information, but it’s helping bring that information to a wider audience in a way that they can relate to it and be excited about it. This is super important, especially right now with the effects of the climate crisis becoming increasingly severe. The more we know about and feel connected to nature, the more likely we’ll be to take action to conserve it.”
Though it can seem daunting, there are so many ways to live your best sustainable life. Every action makes a difference! Set your personal sustainably goals, be kind to yourself as you make new choices, and join us in the journey to a greener future.