Community Post

Community Post: Your Sustainability Tips, The Greatest Hits Edition

Thinking of embarking on a sustainability journey? Here are some tips from the GNI community to get you started.

Let’s rewind to about two weeks ago. The date is January 9th, 2020. It’s a new year, and we’re preparing our first Friday newsletter of the year. Some time late in the evening, before finishing up our final notes to you all, we decided to add a quick two-sentence question nestled in the midst of Issue #151’s “This Week’s Picks” section. It read:

Have “tiny tips” (small sustainability changes you’re making)? Tell us here and we’ll share them in next week’s newsletter. 💌

As the next seven days unfolded, more than two hundred sustainability tips found their way to our inboxes. (The answer is yes - we loved receiving and reading every single one of them.) Below, you’ll find only a few of the responses we received, but they’re good ones. We’re feeling pretty lucky to be a part of a community that not only cares for our planet, but takes the extra step to implement that care (however possible) into their day-to-day lives. From the big things like opting for slower shipping to smaller things, like getting ice cream in cones instead of cups (!!), you’re making a difference one tiny sustainability tip at a time.

At Home 🏠

Work on becoming more sustainable one room at a time. I started in my bathroom by switching to bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tabs, bamboo toilet paper without plastic packaging, and bars for my shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I’m now onto my kitchen!” - Olivia Q.

“I’m a new mom and there is lots of waste that comes with that. One way I’m cutting back is by using these reusable breast pads. Instead of disposable ones (in packages similar to pantyliners), I use these and wash them all at once. Plus they’re way softer than the disposable kind!” - Emily W.

“If you can, set your dishwasher to delay it’s cycle to run in the middle of the night, which [I’ve heard] helps power plants run more efficiently and could save you energy cost.” - Melina K.

We used our wedding registry to try to upgrade to more sustainable options that would generally seem a little too pricey. So far our favorite sustainable gifts have been the wool dryer balls to replace dryer sheets, beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap, and dishwasher safe sandwich bags to replace single-use plastic bags! It has been so nice to feel better about our consumption, plus it really helped us make a wedding registry when at first we thought we had all we needed already!” - Cait F.

“Grow your own herbs!” - Rhaia H.

“This is the year of me trying to do my best and compost! I’ve been making an effort to cook more plant-based foods, and every last scrap gets composted. So I’ve been using the same plastic bag I accidentally needed from a Walgreens trip sans tote. I keep it in the freezer and head to my local farmer’s market on the weekend to drop it off. And additionally, supporting my local farmer’s market (which isn’t as great during the winter, I’ll be honest) helps me support local produce sellers/producers and eliminate any bags/packaging/etc. usually involved in the grocery shopping process. There are so many cute countertop scrap collectors/compost bins for those who have more access to a compost facility or a backyard. My mom has one and loves it.” - Phoebe B.

“While cleaning out my closet/drawers I set aside any 100% cotton shirts that were a little too worn to be donated. I cut them up into squares and use them instead of cotton rounds for make-up removal. When they’re ready to be washed I throw them in a mesh bag and into the laundry! But I can’t take the credit - I got the tip after reaching out to Olivia from Simply Liv & Co (Find her Instagram here!). She always has the best tips and recently opened a zero-waste coffee shop! Talk about sustainable goals!” - Hannah U.

“After listening to a podcast on toilet paper production, which was actually way more fascinating than I thought, I sought out a more sustainable TP. Almost all TP is made from brand new paper fibers (trees) just so we feel more cush on our tush. Even the recycled paper ones only have a small percentage of recycled. I found Reel which is made from bamboo fiber, and again can be a subscription delivered. All recyclable packaging and not plastic. Continues to reduce the need to go to the store where I inevitably buy more stuff I don’t need.” - Sophie W.

I follow a couple of Instagram accounts for some inspiration like @trashisfortossers, @zerowastecartel, and @lowimpactmovement. These Instas also show you other areas of life and have recipes from dry shampoo to house cleaner if you are really feeling the DIY.” - Bronwen S.

“You can recycle your contact lens packets! I use daily contact lenses, and a few months ago, I found out about a scheme where you can collect your empty packets and then drop them off at a collection point to be recycled. In the UK it’s through TerraCycle, you may have to search to find out where in your country you can do it.” - Beth F.

I’ve started emptying my used coffee grounds from my morning brew into a bin to use this spring while gardening. It works great to balance the Ph of my soil and feed my flowers and veggies!” - Brittany B.

“Fully embracing composting without the smelly container by keeping my compost bin in the freezer. All my food scraps go right into the freezer and stay solid until the bin is full and I take it to our apartment green bin for pickup.” - Ashley F.

“I use an electric toothbrush, but the heads always worry me as I’m not sure how recyclable they are. I am going to purchase a recyclable alternative (for US shipping, use this link), you can post the heads back to the company after using and they recycle them.” - Kayleigh C.

On the go 🏃‍♀️

Photo provided by @sustainablesabs

"My favorite tip is wrapping a mason jar with old rubber bands (like what you get from produce bundles) and using that as my “to go” coffee cup! The rubber bands prevent you from burning your hands with the hot glass and it doesn’t cost you a thing. Hooray for repurposing!" - Sabrina K.

“Meeting someone at a coffee shop with only single use cups? For those days where I know I’ll be hanging out at the coffee shop (or if I’m not in a rush and can afford the leisurely stroll with coffee in hand), I like to go lidless, sleeveless, and/or strawless as opposed to the knee-jerk reaction of taking a lid, sleeve, or straw when it’s really not necessary.” - Jennifer T.

Do a thorough job of washing anything you recycle so that it doesn’t contaminate the recycling and become landfill waste.” - Laura F.

“I’m doing my best to divest from Amazon (it’s just too easy to order, isn’t it?) and doing a lot more in-person shopping. Seeing my lobby pile up with presents and packages over the holidays made me so aware of how much waste goes into that but also how little in-store shopping we’re all doing. Sure, sometimes a day of shopping doesn’t result in the exact specific thing we wanted but that used to be half of the fun. Now when I go to order something online, I’ll ask myself first if I can’t just go pick it up in person. 98% of the time, I’ve gotten my butt off the couch and into a store that could really use my business. Shop local!” - Phoebe B.

“Ice cream CONES instead of cups! :)” - Nicole T.

“When I go out for drinks or an event, I make sure to build in enough time to always take public transportation. [Consider whether or not it’s safe for you to do so in your specific context.] Worst case scenario, if I have to take an Uber/Lyft at the end of the night, I’ve chosen at least one more sustainable option to get around.” - Nicole B.

“My sustainability tip is to move away from using notebooks and post-its at work and using programs like Evernote and the built-in Apple notes instead. Bonus: Everything becomes digitally searchable so you don’t have to circle through your handwritten notes! Save paper and time is definitely a win-win!!” - Victoria G.

[Try to] avoid single occupancy vehicle trips, especially if you live in a major city. Ride a bike or take the bus/train instead of Uber or driving yourself. Worried it will take longer? It often doesn’t, but budget the time and bring a book or listen to a podcast if this is your commute. If this is a radical change, start small by first trying new modes. You might find you enjoy them more after a little experimentation. Remember, if you are in a car by yourself you are not stuck in traffic, ~ you are traffic ~. Transportation is the largest source of emissions in the U.S., so I can’t underscore enough how big of an effect changing your transportation habits has on sustainability.” - Madison M.

Encourage sustainability in others. Tweet/post on Instagram about your sustainable behaviors! Your friends might already be curious, but seeing you lead the way may push them to be more sustainable themselves. Push your elected officials to divest in fossil fuels and to vote for renewable energy standards and better bike/pedestrian/transit infrastructure.” - Madison M.

Compost at Whole Foods. I freeze my vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, etc. and drop off at Whole Foods! So easy. (P.S. Trader Joe’s produce bags are compostable.” - Leslie G.

“A friend of mine plays a ‘plastic-free’ game at the grocery store. I find this hard to do with all items, but I created a game for myself where I try to buy all of my produce without plastic. I’ve found it’s really easy to make happen. Choosing the loose carrots versus the carrots in the bags also encourages you to just buy what you need, creating less waste in the end.” - Kate W.

Online and in-stores 🛒

“My biggest tip is to not follow the trend of purging your plastic Tupperware in favor of upgrading to glass containers. Yes, they’re Instagram worthy, but the most sustainable practice is to not consume more. Your plastic containers, more often than not, do not get recycled. The same practice extends to your technology - the most sustainable phone is the one you currently have. Repair your devices instead of upgrading to the next best thing.” - Madeleine W.

Invest in a monthly membership to a local CSA (community sustained agriculture) to reduce the carbon footprint and the amount of the meat we consume, as well as support the humane treatment of animals.” - Carly J.

“It’s a medium change, but I’m trying REALLY hard to be more aware of my fashion consumption choices. While I’m not trying to do a full NoBuy2020, I am trying to cut fast fashion out of my clothing shopping processes, and I’ve cancelled my Amazon Prime account (there’s nothing I need so badly that getting it within 1 or 2 days is worth the huge impact of inefficient, constant deliveries).” - Helen H.

“Try to order online from companies with carbon-neutral shipping.” - Shantel W.

“I’m working on reducing just buying fast fashion and really thinking about if a piece is already similar to something I have, which can give outfit inspiration from my own closet. And when I can, I buy from companies that have a sustainability statement. Luckily, there are many web resources and bloggers that have done the reading, rounded up, and summarized many companies policies for easy reference. Yes, I know that many of the sustainable fashion companies are priced out of the budget range of many people (and my budget many times)… so I mainly try to reuse what I have or try to limit buying to things I will wear often and for years.” - Lindsay G.

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