Frankie’s Guide to Sustainability Almost every decision you make in a day will have an impact on the environment. We owe it to each other and our communities to be wise with our day-to-day choices and actively consider the health and well being of the planet. We know that sustainable practices can seem daunting, but once they’re integrated into your daily life, you might forget that you did things any other way. We’ve put together a guide to help get you going!
What we eat matters. Food choices have a big effect on the planet, its resources and our emissions. Even small changes in our diets can have a big impact. When you’re planning meals, buying groceries, or in a restaurant, think about where your food is coming from, how it got to you and how much energy went into its production.
- Buy local produce as often as you can, or sign up for a CSA box to get a weekly subscription of various locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. Industrial agriculture creates air, soil and water pollution and often the food it produces has to travel really far to get to our supermarkets. Supporting small farms will get you delicious produce that’s locally and more sustainably grown.
- Eat less dairy and meat! Beef and dairy cattle are one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases. Going all the way vegan isn’t possible for everyone, but even decreasing your weekly consumption of dairy and meat products can have a very positive impact.
Ditch plastics wherever you can. Plastics are so bad for our environment and we use so many more of them than we realize. Made from fossil fuels (a non-renewable energy source), plastics take decades or even centuries to decompose and pose threats to wildlife and our natural systems.
- Drop the plastic water bottles and get a water filter.
- Be considerate when buying bathroom products like razors and cotton swabs, there’s usually a non-plastic, or low plastic alternative. Switch to a bamboo toothbrush (regular plastic ones take about 1000 years to degrade).
- Avoid individually wrapped food products like granola bars, coffee pods and single serving yogurts.
- Buy things with less packaging and buy things packaged in compostable materials.
- Anticipate waste and pack to avoid it. When you leave for the day, bring along a reusable bottle for your water or coffee mug and tupperware and utensils for take out.
- Keep reusable grocery bags on you but be mindful of what they’re made from. New cotton has a high environmental impact and a canvas tote needs to be reused over 7,100 times to have a better environmental impact than a single use plastic one! If your tote is made of organic cotton, it will take over 20,000 uses. Try ones made out of recycled or upcycled materials.
When it comes to clothes, shop smart. Fashion is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, it’s also the second largest consumer of earth’s groundwater supply. There’s so many ways you can reduce the impact that your wardrobe has on the climate and it starts with buying less and buying smarter.
- Get to know the materials in your clothes, different materials have different ecological impacts. Recycled cotton, organic hemp and organic linen are up there with some of the best. Here’s a great reference guide to learn more.
- 84% of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators. Rather than throwing away your old pieces, try getting them repaired. Buy fewer but better quality products that will last you longer. Integrate thrifting, secondhand items and upcycled clothing into your wardrobe. Donate your used things that are still in good condition. If they’re ratty for wear, try finding a textile recycling initiative in your area.
- Avoid fast fashion when you can! Not only does fast fashion lead to cheaply made garments with short lifetimes that end up landfills, it uses dangerous labour practices that create unsafe conditions for workers who are underpaid, all the while polluting the environments it’s made in. These garments might be cheap but the environmental, economic and social impacts are never worth it. Here’s a good (and hopeful) read to learn more.
Where you spend your money matters too. The way we spend sets trends in consumer markets and establishes consumer expectations of companies and corporations, so spend wisely.
- Support local, support small businesses, support your community, their passion and their creativity!
- Learn a bit more about how your go-to big businesses behave behind the scenes. Every year, Just Capital puts out a list of companies that are leading the way in responsible business practices. Check out some of the best and the worst here, you can even use their search tool to see where the companies you love land.
To make our systems more sustainable we need to act together to change our habits around consumption, but we also need to demand change from corporations and governments. Did you know just 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global emissions, and have been since 1988? If you want to get more involved, find out who your local politicians are and find out what they’re doing to stop climate change. Become active in your neighbourhood by participating in cleanups and protests. Donate money and time to community causes and mutual aid networks. We have a lot more power when we’re all working together and when we’re all making small changes in the way we live our lives.