I know I’ve shared this before – my last career was as a sustainable building expert. I did that work for 10 years! But something much less known is that I tried my hand at creating on online marketplace for sustainable clothing and home goods.
This was in the earlier days of online shopping and before there were amazing online resources to help guide me in starting this type of business. I spent a crazy amount of time coming up with a sustainable rating system for what I was selling and then rated all the items in the shop.
Truth is though that there are different ways to rate things and often one rating, like easily renewable fabric, will be in conflict with carbon emissions from transportation of that fabric. There’s so many filters for what is sustainable from the food we eat to the car we drive that to find an absolute on the most sustainable version of whatever you seek can feel impossible.
What I’ve discovered though is that picking something that really feels important to you is a great place to start. Maybe you’re all about reducing carbon emissions for transportation. Perhaps you want to eliminate waste from your life. Or you’re all about minimizing toxins in the environment. Whatever it is, there are so many wonderful resources out there for you.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
If this is what gets you excited about the planet, then go for it! There are many ways to reduce carbon emissions from transportation to manufacturing to your lifestyle. The average American is responsible for 10 to 20 tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
I love helpful guides like How to Live a Low Carbon Life by Chris Goodall. He outlines how to reduce your carbon emissions that are from your direct actions as well as indirect emissions which are from food and goods you buy.
Want to take this a step further or just read an inspirational story, try Planetwalker by John Francis. I heard him speak years ago and was fascinated. He was outraged when he experienced an oil spill in San Francisco in the 70’s. He gave up taking any form of motorized transportation for 22 years! This book is all about his journey.
Buying carbon offsets is another thing you can consider. While this doesn’t really address the underlying issue it does help to mitigate carbon emission impacts. Terrapass is a company I’ve used before to offset the carbon emissions from flights. You can also buy “green renewable energy” through your local electricity company. It doesn’t mean the actual energy you use is renewable though, it simply supports the development of renewable energy sources in other locations which may or may not contribute to your energy grid.
How about Going Zero Waste?
Being a “zero waster” basically means that you produce virtually no landfill bound waste. Composting, reusing and recycling are all allowable. This is an excellent way to reduce your impact on mother earth. It’s not just creating no landfill or incinerator bound waste, it’s also about reducing or eliminating plastics and other materials that have a big carbon footprint as well. I’ll caveat this section with the fact that right now this may not be the easiest to tackle as most grocery stores have eliminated the use of reusable bags and containers.
Zero Waste sometimes goes well with Minimalism but the two approaches don’t have to be. One of the best guide books I’ve found is Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. Bea has spoken all over the world about her journey to zero waste and has a great website filled with resources including a bulk finder app. Bea provides tips and tools complete with recipes for making your own dishwashing soaps. This is like a bible for zero wasters.
If you live in an apartment though and/or are a college student then Trash is for Tossers is an excellent resource. Lauren has been waste free for 8 years and lives in New York City. She’s also is the founder of Packaged Free, a brick and mortar and online store designed to make your zero waste lifestyle a bit easier.
Want to focus on Toxins?
Well, I have to admit, this is my favorite because this has such a direct impact on your health! There are now over 84,000 chemicals in the environment today and you’re exposed to hundreds on a regular basis. None of these toxins are tested for human and planetary safety and regulation of chemicals in the US is pretty poor compared to the EU. So it’s really up to you, the consumer, to decide what to choose.
So how do you reduce your toxin exposure? Sadly there aren’t any great books out there on this topic so I’d like to share with you some of my favorite resources.
In this post, I talk about how to reduce your toxin exposure through plastics. This is a great place to start. The Packaged Free shop I mentioned above is a great resource for replacing typically plastic items with non-plastic items. You can also check out The Plastic Free Store for plastic free items.
Another way to reduce your toxin exposure is to focus in on your beauty routine. There are many endocrine disrupting chemicals in beauty products but it’s easy to change to less toxic options. Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is a great place to start when it comes to checking your products for toxins and making safer choices.
Because food is something we consume every day, this might be one of the biggest areas to reduce our exposure to toxins. Eating organic can help reduce your exposure to glyphosate and related pesticide and herbicides. Also choosing foods that are whole, instead of processed, will help you avoid unnecessary and often harmful preservatives. What that means is making more foods from scratch or just simplifying your approach to cooking.
Whatever you decide is most important to you, any of these more sustainable approaches to living will have a positive impact on the environment and your health.
To learn more about ways you can balance your body, join my 5 Day Summer Detox for Beginners. This program starts on August 17th but registration closes on the 15th. Hope to see you there!