This article originally appeared on SMPS Boston’s website.
by Jenn Robertson
On Earth Day, and I saw lots of great content about the importance of sustainability. Earth Day and the conversation it inspires are always great reminders to take a look at the ways that we could be doing more to help our planet. Here are five small ways that we, as individuals, can prioritize sustainability in our day-to-day lives.
Cut Down on the Waste that You Produce
The easiest way to do this is by reducing your use of single-use packaging in favor of more eco-friendly products. There are more options than ever to minimize the amount of waste we produce as individuals; reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and travel mugs can make a small difference each day, as can using a cloth towel to clean up your kitchen spills or a washable cotton round to remove your makeup at night. If you want to take things one step further, you can visit stores that provide bulk items to be taken away in your own reusable packaging, or you could make an effort to compost at home.
Re-think your Transportation Method
This blog post is about easy ways to be more sustainable, so I’m not going to tell you to ditch your vehicle, but pause to think the next time you’re about to hop in your car for a five-minute drive. Cars are a major contributor to air pollution due to their CO2 emissions, but taking a walk or riding a bike is good for your health and for the environment. In Boston, communal transport like the MBTA is a great option if you want to avoid the roads but walking or biking isn’t realistic due to time or distance.
The meat industry takes a harsh toll on the environment: Livestock consume and pollute fresh water, packaging and storing meat uses an abundance of energy, and animal agriculture produces harmful greenhouse gasses. This doesn’t to mean that you have to become a vegetarian overnight, but you can challenge yourself to think outside the box when it comes to the meals you eat. This can be as easy as occasionally swapping out your hamburger for a veggie burger. Options for meat alternatives are significantly better and more varied than they were even a decade ago. The more you try to eat plant-based meals when possible, the more delicious recipes – and even foods you’d never tried before – you’ll become aware of.
Shop at (and Sell/Donate to) Thrift Stores
The popularity of fast fashion means that many clothing stores are rapidly churning out subpar quality items that tend to be used a few times and then quickly discarded. The fashion industry accounts for one fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year, thanks in large part to the use of polyester. Unfortunately, most clothing doesn’t get recycled; it ends up in landfills once it’s no longer wanted. By shopping at thrift stores, you’re cutting down on that waste while also potentially scoring some major deals on like-new clothes. That, my friends, is what they call a win-win.
Ultimately, individuals account for a small fraction of the world’s pollution. Using that paper straw will only do so much in the long run. The only way to make aggressive, lasting change is by implementing restrictions that protect our environment and hold corporations accountable. Do your research, and find the candidates and legislation whose sustainability values align with your own, and then make your voice heard.
Jenn Robertson is a marketing coordinator at Sasaki, member of the SMPS Boston Communications Committee, and the SMPS Boston blog manager.