4 simple ways to live an eco-friendly lifestyle (even if you’re too busy)

Did you know 8 million metric tons of trash are dumped into the ocean each year? This trash also kills around one million marine animals and birds every year. Not a day goes by without pollution of some kind. Whether it’s the fumes from cars, the plastic bag holding our PB&J sandwich, the cheap graphic tee you bought last week, or even the plastic water bottle you got on your lunch break.

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But no matter how busy your days are, everyone can, and should, find the time to care a little more about this place we call home. It’s time to do our part to reduce this toxic waste and find smarter ways to keep our planet clean and safe. Not sure where to start? Here’s a few tips to kick off an eco-friendly lifestyle, even if you’re busy.

Don’t fall for fast fashion

Clothing is an essential part of our everyday life. What we pay for clothing, how we feel in it, and how long it lasts are all important factors to keep in mind when purchasing clothes. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest style trends. This allows companies to create cheaply made clothing that will likely not last long for the consumer—ever wash a shirt once and the thread string comes out, or it shrinks three sizes?

Sustainable fashion is the process of fostering change to clothing products towards greater ecological integrity. There are several ways to become a trendsetter without giving into fast fashion and its grand marketing scheme. A string of companies are popping up around this sustainable drive offering easy ways to consign fashion and buy used clothing—hink Poshmark, thredUP, The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, Depop, and eBay. They are all doing their part to promote sustainable fashion at an affordable, not cheap, price. Buying secondhand and investing in clothing that is high quality and made with organic and durable fibers are the best ways we can support this sustainable clothing initiative. Did you know fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world behind oil? Let’s change that, ladies.

Invest in sustainable lunch containers

Work life consists of various foods and snacks to get you through your day. This includes plastic containers, plastic Ziploc bags, maybe even plastic bags as lunch bags. Look for food containers that have silicone lids instead of plastic. Silicone is long-lasting, free of all estrogen-mimicking chemicals that are usually found in plastics, doesn’t contain petroleum, and is not harmful to the environment. Stainless steel is another noteworthy material to use for storing food. People often forget that stainless steel is a highly recycled commodity.

According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, the rate of stainless steel recycling has increased to 90% while plastic recycling remains at 1% with most remains dumped into a landfill. If you tend to bring a big lunch everyday, you might want to purchase a reusable lunchbox. This gives you the freedom to keep all your food in place and cold, while also reducing plastic bag use. So, next time you make your Target run at 8 p.m. looking for some late night snacks, take a peek at the containers section to make your ecological footprint a little less toxic.

Educate the office

Most office buildings should be following all recycling rules no matter what, but if you’re in a building where they don’t pay attention, then now is the time to inquire. Contact the building management company and ask them any questions you may have about how to recycle properly in your office. Make signs, set up bins, and do your part to educate your fellow employees on recycling and how to do it the proper way. Provide lists of resources for people looking to get rid of plastic bags, old toys, clothes, food, or even electronics.

Print out recycling guidelines with handy pictures so the lunch hour rush will learn and understand how to appropriately dispose of their trash. Talk to your office manager about implementing these recycling guidelines and ask if you’re able to hold an info session to teach employees about the do’s and don’ts of recycling. The more people we educate, the better our quality of life will be.

Get rid of plastic

We all know plastic is the big criminal here. One of the biggest actions we can take is to stop purchasing plastic water bottles and especially plastic water bottles in mass quantity. Not only does this waste affect our marine life but can also affect public health by spreading diseases and other illnesses as a result of burning waste.

In 2010, Sarah Kauss founded the company S’well with an important mission in mind. Kauss wanted to rid the world of plastic bottles. She molded fashion and function together to create a product that consumers couldn’t resist. The bottles are designed to keep your beverages cold for up to 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. S’well is a woman-owned company with a strong and clear vision to make the world a cleaner place. Instead of polluting the Earth every day with more plastic water bottles, reuse your own cute and sustainable water bottle that is entirely yours (and you’ll save so much money). Bring it to work, in the car, to the gym, and pretty much everywhere you go. It’s the easiest way to make the world a cleaner place.

About the Author

Abbey Adams currently works at a digital marketing company while also maintaining her music blog (blondieandthebeat.com) of six years. Throughout her time as a freelance writer for a women’s magazine, she’s learned to share every story and empower as many women as possible. You can usually find her writing in bed binging Sex and the City (for the 10th time) or at the gym sweating out her anxiety on the stairclimber.

This article first appeared on Create and Cultivate.