This year Noah and I have been making some lifestyle changes. I didn’t want to post any updates until I had proven to myself that I could actually follow through with them for several months and for me to become a little more educated on the topics.

I’ve always loved nature and would tell you that I would never want to directly cause harm towards anyone, but I never considered how eco-friendly or sustainable a product was before making a purchase. However, I’ve learned that it’s hard (if not impossible) to have one without the other.

When I first started researching ways to have a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle I was very overwhelmed. I realized that there is no way that I could ever be like this waste-free girl who literally has all of her trash from the last 3 years in a mason jar, but I also realized that’s okay! I decided that going full force would result in me quitting a few weeks in and slowly transitioning would be the best way to set me up for success.

With that said, here is a key thing that I’ve learned: DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. While I would love to live a perfectly sustainable and eco-friendly life, it’s just not realistic right now. My goal is to slowly make progress and make manageable changes over time.

Fashion

Alright, y’all can thank “The True Cost” documentary on Netflix for opening my eyes to this one. You guys, THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SO BAD. I knew that there were a lot of poor working conditions but I had no idea what a big problem it was. People around the world are making our clothes for pennies in extremely harsh conditions so large companies can sell clothes for low prices, but still make a tremendous profit (and that is just the beginning).

A few brands that you probably know and love that use sweatshop labor:

  • H&M
  • Forever 21
  • Old Navy
  • Walmart
  • Gap
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Target
  • The list goes on and on…

Sadly, the fashion blogger world really feeds this problem, because you’re only making money if you’re featuring new products (and they are rarely fair trade products). One fashion blogger that I’ve found who only features fair trade products is Sustainably Chic, I definitely encourage you to check her out!

Things to look for in new products that you buy:

  • Made in the USA (thankfully we have laws preventing bad work conditions)
  • 100% Cotton
  • Background story about their international factories and working conditions

So like I mentioned before, how in the world do you start this shift in your buying behaviors?! Well, I started out by cleaning out my closet to have a clean slate of clothes that I actually wear. Most of the clothes I either sold on buy/sell/trade pages or gave them to people I know. After I had a cleaner closet, these are some of rules that I’ve put in place when it comes to purchasing clothes.

Rules I have set in place:

  • Buy more used clothing (Thrift shops, buy/sell/trade pages, and apps like Poshmark)
  • Buy more vintage clothing (Whurl is a great place to find vintage clothing)
  • If buying new, support fair trade companies
  • Sometimes make an exception to support small businesses.
  • Overall, buy less clothes and invest in pieces that will last a long time.

 

recycled cans

Reducing Waste

I gotta admit. This one was the most daunting to me. While we still have A LOT of trash, we are constantly mindful about ways to reduce it. We used to use paper plates a lot (they are just so convenient) but we only use our glass dishes now. Noah used to go through MANY disposable coffee cups a day at the local coffee shop or at work, but I got him this reusable one that is barista friendly. Next on my list is to reduce our use of paper towels, which Elsie Larson recently wrote about on A Beautiful Mess.

While these small changes are a bit of an adjustment at first, you aren’t only helping reduce waste, you’re also going to spending a lot less money! Other than a little more inconvenience at times, it really is a win-win. Plus, you won’t have to take the trash out as often! 😉

Some easy ways to reduce waste:

  • Use reusable grocery bags (and recycle the plastic bags you might accidentally get)
  • Use cloth towels instead of disposable ones
  • Refuse plastic straws when you eat out (HUGE pollution from those little guys) or carry around a reusable one.
  • Avoid pre packaged items when possible (or get in bulk)

 

Recycling

Obviously this goes hand in hand with reducing waste, but I figured I’d separate it out. Growing up we always recycled but since our apartment doesn’t have a recycling service, we got out of the habit. Noah and I don’t drink soda but we got through a TON of bottled and canned sparkling/mineral water.

This year I finally got my act together and starting saving all the cans and bottles. After we’ve collected a significant amount, we will take the aluminum cans to the recycling plant for some big money (not haha. But everything counts right?) and we will take the glass bottles to family that does have recycling pick up.

We also have a Nespresso coffee machine which is a major no-no in the waste free world (it has individual disposable pods), but after doing some research I found out that you can ship your used pods to Nespresso for free and they will recycle them for you. Win!

Getting started on recycling:

  • Always choose glass over plastic
  • Start paying attention to the resin code
  • Research your city’s recycling policies

Beauty Products

I’m not a big makeup person and drugstore products have pretty much always been my go-to. However, I’ve recently learned that if I’m going to be careful about the food I’m eating, shouldn’t we be just as careful about the products we use on our skin DAILY? This can be an expensive transition but I encourage you to do it slowly as you run out of your old products.

A Beautiful Mess, Elsie Larson, and Oui Fresh have been HUGE resources for me in all of this. I got most of these products from the Oui Fresh Beauty Box Subscription or discovered it through their blog.

Unfortunately the words “natural” and “organic” are not regulated and might refer to only one ingredient in the product, so further research is typically required. A great resource to help with this research is the app, Think Dirty. You can look up almost any product in this app and it will rate how clean the product is. Super helpful and great tool to quickly research products when when looking in the store.

Things to look for in clean beauty products:

  • Cruelty free (often labels will have a Leaping Bunny logo)
  • Anything without ingredients you probably can’t pronounce, like parabens and PEGs
  • Fragrance free (up to you, but fragrances can be the source of a lot of allergies)
  • USDA Organic seal (requires at least 95% organic ingredients)

WELL, I covered a lot in this post and I hope to continue talking about these topics on the blog and in stories. To wrap this up I want to emphasize something I shared in the beginning of this post. If you are thinking of starting this journey to a more natural and green lifestyle, don’t overwhelm yourself.

Start small.

Something is better than nothing.

If you’d like to learn more about any specific topic or have tips of your own to share, please leave a comment!