As consumers we have the power to dictate what the market offers. If we start making more informed decisions about the products we buy (from food to clothing to travel experiences), stop buying certain products that are terrible for the environment, and replace them for smaller, sustainable brands, that’s when things start to change. Even if you make one small change a month it makes a difference, so don’t be afraid to make the move if this is something that’s been on your mind. That’s exactly why I decided to write this article to give you some sustainable living ideas and how you can start making better decisions on your day to day.
How to live a more sustainable life – Why is it important?
How can we be more sustainable? It’s easier than it sounds.
Believe it or not, you have the power. We all do. As a consumer, what we buy does make a difference in the world. It forces big brands to make changes in order to adapt to the demands of a more conscious market and it creates space for smaller brands with big, innovative ideas to grow. This applies for every industry.
Brands want to make money. If we stop supporting the really bad ones, they will adapt eventually. That’s why as consumers we have the power and a strong voice to share what we think, and tell our friends and family why we chose one brand VS another. That’s why we have to keep ourselves educated on how to become more sustainable. This has the power to change the world over time.
Don’t be afraid to start. Don’t think a small action doesn’t have an impact. It all starts with something small. I truly hope these sustainable living ideas inspire you to make a small change today.
Eco friendly lifestyle? This is where I’m at.
There are a million more things I could be doing and I’m still making mistakes (some are conscious, some aren’t), but I give myself some grace because I’m at least trying and learning. Little by little. It’s a process, just like everything else. The important thing is to start.
I try to maximize everything I have in my closet, use cleaner products, reduce single use plastic, shop small and shop less.
Another thing I’m trying to do, is to support more women owned brands. I joined this amazing platform called Dough (more on them next week) and it basically gives you access to women owned businesses and products, along with their story. It’s truly amazing and they have so many unique pieces! Make sure to check them out!
2021 update: Last year we sold everything we owned and started living on Airbnb’s full time! So we really don’t have anything other than our suitcases right now! Read our crazy adventures here.
Sustainable living ideas – Small things you can do right now!
Here are some of the products/brands we’ve stopped buying (or using way less in some cases) and what we are buying instead. As I mentioned before, if you only apply to your life ONE THING from this post, you will be making a HUGE difference.
After a while, incorporate another one and so on. In a few years, you won’t even believe how sustainable and eco-friendly you are! That’s what I did. And yes, I still have a long way to go, but little by little I’ve been taking small steps towards the right direction and that’s all it matters.
It all starts with one single step.
Buy this instead of this
Make up remover wipes:
Oh… these are so convenient right!? But they are not only terrible for your skin, but to the environment too because they are SO wasteful. Just think about it; you use them every day and so does everyone you know. This adds up. Also, add baby wipes here… which I understand you need if you have a baby, but you don’t need the makeup ones, so take one for the team here. You can read more on why they are so bad here.
What to buy instead? I use this make up remover towel called the ‘Makeup Eraser’ that you can wash and it’s only $15! (All the better options are linked here). You can also wash your face twice using your favorite cleanser, but I know sometimes this can end up being more expensive because you use double the amount of product. In my opinion, it’s always convenient to have the Makeup Eraser towel.
These plastic bags are terrible for the environment. Any kind of single use plastic is one of the worst things you can do for our planet, which makes it a great way to start doing some changes. Bring your bags to the grocery store, skip the water bottles and plastic straws and reduce or eliminate the use of ziploc bags (I know how convenient they are, but it’s a change worth doing). If you are in the US, Canada, Australia, some places in South America or Europe, this is easier to do. A lot of countries don’t have the option to choose and that’s one of the things that motivates me the most to do something. To be in that position is a privilege.
What to buy instead? Ideally, use glass containers as much as you can. If you must use a bag, then these reusable plastic ones are a great option. They are $15 and are easy to wash and reuse. You can buy a couple of sets like we did. Here are a couple options.
Plastic water bottles:
This ties up with the ziploc bags and all single plastic use in general. If you are in a position to do something, that’s a privilege. It’s not that hard to stop using plastic water bottles.
What to buy instead? Reusable water bottles (I love the brand Contigo). Here are a few options. I keep mine with me at all times, even to the airport. You just have to make it a habit and get used to it. I believe it makes a huge difference.
I transitioned to natural deodorant a while ago and wrote more about on the subject here. There’s a lot of cancer in my family so I really feel like I have to take extra care of myself. Regular deodorant has been linked to breast cancer (even though there’s no clear evidence) and I’m just not willing to take that risk. Most commercial antiperspirants/deodorants rely on aluminum or antimicrobials to help control sweat and odor. Many also contain parabens as a preservative and some form of a carrier chemical to make it easier to apply to the skin. These can be silicones, such as cyclomethicone, PEG-8 distearate, hydrogenated caster oil and others.
What does this have to do with being eco-friendly? Well, because how the products we use are made and packaged does have a huge impact. Just think about the amount of products you have at home… lotions, skincare, haircare, etc. Deodorant is a great place to start because it’s a product that has a high level of rotation.
What to buy instead? The answer of course, is natural deodorant because they don’t block your pores (antiperspirants do—that’s why you don’t sweat) so that good bacteria keeps working, meaning less odor even when you’re not wearing any deodorant. After trying a million different brands this past year, my favorites are Humankind, Nuud and Phresh. I have a couple more to try that were gifted, so I’ll keep you posted on how I like those. Check out all the brands that are eco-friendly and have worked for me here. Usually brands that are focused on using natural ingredients, are also the ones focused on having better packaging and a smaller carbon footprint.
More sustainable living ideas – Other products you can choose not to use
- Wherever you go, you can always ask you beverage not to have a plastic straw. If you really like drinking with straws, then carry one with you at all times.
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic.
- Reusable cloths instead of paper towels.
- Ditch single use plastics. Look around your house and see what you can replace with a more eco-friendly option. You can find more ideas in this post.
- Pay attention in the grocery store and buy products with less packaging.
- Start using natural cleaners and soaps. This will be beneficial for your health and also for our water systems.
- Practice being minimalistic. Haven’t you notice that the more you want the less you have? Declutter your home. Keep only what you need and use.
- Change your lights. Switch to CFL bulbs. These last longer and are more energy efficient than traditional lightbulbs. Also, try using sun light as much as possible. This is a great answer to how to make your home more sustainable.
- Use bamboo silverware instead of plastic utensils.
Sustainability in the Fashion Industry
Fast fashion brands:
Brands like Shein, Romwe, Forever21, Wish, Missguided, Zara, Urban Outfitters and the one that hurt me the most… Mango. You guys know I’m so guilty of this. It’s hard to resist because they are cute and so so cheap, but they are so terrible for the environment! Why? Well because they are usually worn a couple of times and that’s it, which generates waste. Since they use a lot of toxic chemicals it also generates water pollution and with prices on these items being so low, they encourage consumers to buy more without thinking too much about our purchases, not to mention most of these brands don’t even pay their employees (from factories to retail) a decent living wage. However, don’t be silly and get rid of the things you already bought to replace it for a more ethical version, that’s wasteful and not ethical in the end! Just think about it twice next time you are going shopping.
What to buy instead? I wrote with a lot of details on this subject here.
Brands that are more responsible like Marine Layer, Everlane, Reformation, United by Blue, Cuyana, Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Roots, Tom’s, etc. (There are so many with different price points and for every style!). There’s an IG page I follow called ‘Good on You’ (They also have an app and a very resourceful website) that shares brands that are responsible and rates some of the brands out there, so you can make more informed decisions next time you shop. I also wrote a post to help you build a capsule wardrobe little by little. By having less things and being less wasteful you are also helping our planet (it actually has a bigger impact!). Check out the post here.
I wrote a blog post with a list of sustainable brands and I organize them by categories. I explained everything about ethical clothing too and why it’s so important to support the right brands. Make sure to check it out here.
Sustainable living ideas to have a greener closet:
- Buy second hand. I love ThredUp for this! Also check out your local second hand clothing store. It’s always so fun and you can find so many unique pieces
- Use everything you have in your closet! Check out my style category and find pieces you already have and copy the looks! Check it out here.
- Avoid using hot water to wash your clothes
- Shop less often
- If you need to shop, support ethical clothing brands
- Share clothes with your friends. These closet swaps can be so much fun and it’s a good way to organize a fun girls night in
About food brands, beauty and cleaning products:
For food and products in general, I suggest you to check and follow @labels_matter on Instagram. That account is amazing at sharing details on products that are safe to buy and why.
I could write more about this, but it would be a very long post on itself. Truth is, not all brands and products are safe for you to use, and I recently find out that some brands that are known for being safe are not so much.. Also brands that are actually safe, have products that are not safe at all despite having products that are… Confusing right? Then add organic, GMO, natural, etc. That’s why I invite you to follow this IG account. She posts almost daily and shares photos of each product with amazing sustainable living ideas, so it’s super easy to understand. It’s been my go-to guide when I’m at the supermarket lately.
Start with this list of vegetables and fruits called the dirty dozen and clean fifteen (Read more here) as a guide to know which things you should splurge on and buy organic, and which products are just not worth it:
It’s also recommended to buy organic any animal products like meat, pork and chicken and byproducts like eggs, butter, milk etc. (at least that’s we do around here to be safe). Also, don’t feel bad if you can’t make the switch. All of these alternatives are more expensive and to be honest, I couldn’t afford to do it until 2 years ago. What I do encourage you to do is to eat healthy, not processed foods, organic or not. Eating healthy, natural food will have the bigger impact on how you live your life.
I found this really good article that has practical ideas and advice for each category.
How to be more ecofriendly with food
When it comes to food there are a few other things we can do to make the world a little bit better. Here are some of them:
- Eat less red meat. Why? Cows have a huge carbon footprint and are terrible for the environment because of the gases they generate. Even if you cut down your consumption to once a week has a huge impact.
- Don’t waste food. Why? It adds to the amount of CO2 being created in landfills. We as humans are so wasteful. We buy too many things we don’t need. Food waste is an easy one to control.
- Start composting. Why? It’s a great way to cut down on food waste even more.
- Have your food delivered. Why? Less cars out there going to the same grocery store and one van does the delivery instead. Plus, you’ll probably end up buying less things, which can help with food waste (and your diet!).
- Grow your own food. Why? You can cut your carbon footprint and save money! Plus you’ll know exactly what you are eating.
Beauty brands & animal testing
Did you know that each year, more than 100 million animals—including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds—are killed in U.S. laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing? I was shocked when I learned that number.
Currently, I’m not buying, sharing or accepting products from those dirty brands that test on animals anymore. I just can’t. If you’re brave enough to watch the videos on what they do to these innocent animals, then go to YouTube and do quick search.
Well-known brands who still test on animals
Here are some of the ‘clean brands’ that don’t do any kind of animal testing:
You can read more on the subject here or do a quick Google search to learn more about it. There’s a lot of information out there. If there are brands that are not listed on either of these lists, you can always Google it. Trust me, there’s information somewhere out there about ANY brand. I trust the Peta website for this kind of stuff.
Keep in mind that a lot of the brands who don’t test on animals are always more eco-friendly and do a better job at having a smaller carbon footprint, so they always deserve our support. That’s why I decided to include this here. I also wrote about clean beauty brands that I’ve been using. It’s just hard to share more because I don’t recommend anything I haven’t used, so in this blog post I’m sharing the ones that have worked for me.
If you can make some of your own beauty products, even better!
If you know more on this subject, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Also, if you’ve replace any product for a more responsible choice, please share too. I’m here to learn from you as well.
To be honest, I still have products and brands at home that are not the best choices, but I’m learning. This by any chance means you have to go and get rid of everything you own and go out there and buy all of these instead. I just hope this post helps you to make a more informed decision next time you need to buy something. That’s really all it is. Remember you have the power to choose. I just hope this post gave you some sustainable living ideas you can start working on today!
There are a million other categories and brands I am leaving out, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you. I already feel like this post is long enough as it is. If you would like to see more of these posts, I can make it into a series, but let me know via IG or in the comments below and I’ll take note of it.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
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Other Sustainability related blog posts you may like:
- Ethical clothing brand 2021 shopping guide
- Non-toxic deodorant reviews – Brands that have worked for years
- Ethical skincare brands that have worked for me
- 100 tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle