Sustainable habits should last a lifetime, not for just a few days or weeks. With the number of coronavirus cases increasing each day, government officials are strongly advising citizens to stay in their homes which leaves many of us with extra time on our hands. We’ve decided to use that extra time to practice living a more sustainable lifestyle. Do you want to try it too? Lucky for you, we’ve created an 8-week transformational guide that allows you to gradually transition to a more sustainable lifestyle!
*Do not feel obligated to follow these steps strictly. These are only suggestions for those who are seeking to live more sustainably.
Week 1: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Donate
Take the first week to evaluate your cabinets for food and supplies and make a pile of items you can donate. We decided to create three categories: reusable items, single-use items, and trash, to help you take inventory. Later, you could replace and substitute items like paper towels, styrofoam, and plastic ware with more sustainable products such as washable towels, glassware, or bamboo products. Be sure to keep on the recycle grind while working from home. If you live in Milledgeville, save your glass bottles and recycle them using GC’s glass crusher at the beginning of next semester! (Just drop them by Miller Court Room 310!)
Week 2: Reduce Your Meat Consumption
This is arguably the hardest step, which is why we placed it early on in the process so your body has time to adjust. If you are a heavy meat eater, it might be best to reduce the amount of meat you eat each week. Strive to reject meat two or three days a week and replace it with plant substitutes. Protein consumption remains one of the most common concerns associated with plant-based diets. Check out this NBC article chock full of recipes and information to help you eat more plant protein!
In the meantime, you’re helping animals, too! The Power of Plant-Based Eating by Dr. Joanne Kong, a short documentary discussing the impact of your diet, is available on YouTube.
Week 3: Start Your Own Garden
Fresh produce can be great for your body and mind, especially after being cooped up inside all day getting down and dirty can be a great way to relax. Summer is just around the corner, so get to planting for your at-home produce to spring up in time to land on your dinner table! Check out this blog by Simply Quinoa that has a list of summer produce options so you’ll know what to plant, further helping you to transition into step 2!
Week 4: Invest in a Reusable Water Bottle
Take advantage of a reusable water bottle. Most of the plastic water bottles we use end up in landfills. This Washington Post article explains that each year, an American sends about 100 water bottles to the landfill. If you’re at home, there’s no need to be drinking from single-use water bottles. So, keep those extra water bottles from entering the landfill altogether. After all, drinking all that water will keep your skin healthy and fresh!
Week 5: Go Tree Free
Reduce and replace the number of paper products in your home. Try cutting out paper towels and using washable towels. Reduce the amount of toilet paper you use and opt for a tubeless brand. We promise that three-four squares of single ply won’t hurt you. Also, single-ply toilet paper degrades more quickly in water making it more eco-friendly than its cushy competitors. Instead of tissues, try a washable handkerchief.
Check out this Yale article on the impact of the logging industry. Your contribution may be small, but it does matter!
Week 6: Switch to LED Lighting
Making the switch to LED bulbs can put money back in your pocket and reduce energy consumption. According to the United States Department of Energy’s article on LED Lighting, making the switch from traditional bulbs saves 75% more energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs also last much longer saving you replacement money in the long run!
Week 7: Adopt Tote Bags
Single-use plastic bags litter our waterways, parks, and other natural habitats. In fact, New York City has banned the distribution of single-use plastic bags due to the obscene amount of plastic waste created annually. Check out this NYT article with more information on the new law passed to ban plastic bags in NYC. To decrease your waste production, ditch plastic bags and carry a tote bag or keep some in your car for shopping trips.
Week 8: Switch to Bamboo Straws and Toothbrushes
To conclude your 8-week transformation, switch out single-use plastic items like toothbrushes and straws for reusable metal, or our favorite, bamboo materials. Pencils, cutlery, and even floorboards can be replaced or created with these materials to reduce waste. Check out this blog post to help you replace plastic items with bamboo!
We wish you the best of luck with your sustainability transformation. Remember, it’s okay to mess up, but try to stay mindful during your endeavors!