You can be more green with a few simple changes to your usual daily routines. Simply pay attention to where you eat, drink, and shop – and how you are getting to each of these places day to day. Here’s an easy guide to greening your lifestyle.
Going out to eat is a large part of our social life. Unfortunately, depending on where you choose to go, you may end up throwing out over 50% of the food you order. Instead of wasting food every time you go out, choose to dine at a more sustainable restaurant.
You can go to sustainable restaurants that advertise themselves as farm to table, ethical, or pride themselves on being zero waste. You do not have to limit yourself to these green restaurants, though. Instead, you can opt to go to tapas places that service smaller portion sizes that minimize food waste.
To stop wasting over 50% of the food you order at restaurants:
- Go to places that have smaller portion sizes, like your local tapas restaurant
- Choose a farm-to-table or ethical restaurant
- Find places that advertise themselves as “zero waste”
- Share entrees or order appetizers as a meal
Many bars only serve drinks in plastic cups. Instead of getting a new cup every time you order a drink, ask the bartender or server to reuse your original cup. And, of course, recycle the cup when you are finished. This way, you save the bar supplies and use less plastic than is necessary.
A more sustainable way to enjoy your night out is to:
- Reuse any plastic cups that are given to you
- Ask if there are any glasses you can use instead
Sadly, many clothing stores are run on extremely cheap and unethical labor in order to keep up with demand and be profitable. Instead of buying into this process, buy from stores and brands that advertise themselves as fair trade or ethical.
There are hundreds of shops with ethical practices. Even more mainstream brands, like Patagonia, are considered ethical businesses. Being mindful is the first step to being green.
To be a more eco friendly shopper you can:
- Look for fair trade clothing
- Buy from brands with ethical practices
In many chain grocery stores, all types of produce is available at all times, no matter what time of the year it is. This is because these stores ship in produce from far away places for our convenience, allowing us to get any fruits and vegetables any time of year.
While this is convenient, it is also extremely problematic. Consider the large amounts of fuel it takes to transport this produce, and the fact that we are overworking farms to grow excess food. In order to transition grocery stores out of this poor cycle, start shopping in season. You can also shop locally at farmers markets to avoid the problem completely, given their food is as local as it gets.
Many chain grocery stores either do not have a natural or organic section, either. This means there are not as many healthy options for their consumers. Also, “natural” and “organic” are not mutually exclusive, so make sure you check the packaging to see exactly where all of your products are coming from.
You can eat more sustainably if you:
- Shop at local farmers markets
- Choose sustainable grocery stores
- Start your own garden
- Shop in season
Depending on where you live, there may not be any available public transportation to take advantage of. Like many Americans, you might have to rely on a car in order to get around. To reduce your travel footprint, in this case, try to carpool as much as you can. Even if there are not any other ways to get where you need to go, like walking or biking, scheduling a carpool can do just as much good for the environment.
If you don’t have access to public transportation:
- Schedule a weekly carpool
- Get directions before you leave your home to make sure you are taking the most direct route
- Try to walk or bike to the places that are safely accessible
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