“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need a million people doing it imperfectly.” –Anne-Marie Bonneau
We all have those days when we look in the fridge or the recycling bin and see all the waste and think, “I’m a crappy environmentalist.” We aspire to be better and greener, but then real life happens, everything gets hard, and you make the easy (and often wasteful) choice. But, we can reset and take action by embracing the small changes. Here are my favorite ways to get back in the eco-grove when you’ve gone astray.
1. Ditch the car (including Uber and Lyft!) for just one extra trip. Walk or bike where you need to go. Sometimes you’ll be surprised that things aren’t as far away as you feel like they are (especially if you live in a city.)
2. Air dry a load of laundry. Need guidance on how to move to more air drying? We’ve got a guide for you on easy ways to do this.
3. Bring the bags. Always forgetting to bring your grocery bags? Stash a couple in your bike, handbag, or the car. Take the step to make sure they are always on you. And better yet, bring small bags for produce and bread as well.
4. Take a cooler shower. Sometimes it is just refreshing to take a cooler shower. Plus, it is better for your skin. So turn the temp down a few degrees the next time you are washing up.
5. Adjust the temperature in your home. Air conditioning is one of the most frightening feedback loops of climate change. The warmer it is, the more we will use. The more we use, the warmer it will get. Let your home be a few degrees warmer, it most likely won’t be noticeable. If you have a whole-house dehumidifier attached to your AC unit, run the fan without the AC (often it is humidity that makes homes feel hot.) And if you can, install a smart thermostat. Close the blinds at the hottest times of the day, and open those windows wide as it cools off.
6. Borrow the thing. Next time you feel like you need to buy something for short-term use, see if you can borrow it locally. Ask a friend or find a local Library of Things. If you can’t borrow it, see if you can buy it second hand.
7. Shop locally. Supporting your neighborhood store means more efficient and carbon-friendly delivery and it keeps neighborhoods vibrant. Find the independent boutique that sells thoughtfully and responsibly made products, and support them (if it is something you truly need!)
8. Take action. Join the #ClimateStrike, teach your children, and talk to your employer about how you can make change together. Call your politicians and tell them that action on climate change is critical, right now!
With a little grace and humility you can return to the habits that we all need to be embracing for a cooler planet. I try to be forgiving of myself and understanding of my own limitations, and then recommit to the change I want to see. It is an imperfect action, but it is action. And if we are all doing this regularly, it will be the change we need.