By Alysha Prieto
Cultivating environmentally friendly habits can feel hard, especially when you’re just starting out. Of course, there are larger changes that you can make, from installing solar panels to your home to supporting environmental organizations. But there are plenty of small tweaks to daily life that can have a big impact. Below are just a few ideas — that you may already be doing! — that can help the environment.
- Wearing jeans more than once –
In 2014 Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, went viral after proclaiming he had not washed his jeans a single time in the year he had owned them. His reasons included denim maintenance, but also sustainability. A study the company conducted of the carbon footprint of one pair of jeans analyzed how much energy and how much water a pair of jeans “consumed” from creation to reuse or landfill. The company found that one of the biggest impacts was in water and electricity use for laundry: on average it uses 1,600 liters (or 6,700 glasses of drinking water) to wash a single pair of jeans just once a week.
While you may not want to go as far as not washing jeans for a whole year, consider the environmental impacts of laundry and considering wearing clothes until they really need a wash. Especially in Colorado, our water supply is limited!
Shopping at your local used-clothing stores, yard sales, and estate sales is a great way to find one-of-a-kind pieces. It’s also a great way to decrease the many negative effects of the fast-fashion industry, including carbon emissions, ocean debris, and resource consumption. A report on textiles by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that more than half of fast fashion production is disposed of in under one year.
So save some waste by reusing! One person’s trash is truly another’s treasure.
- Meal prepping –
Our global food system is responsible for almost one-third of our global carbon footprint, and about one-third of that food is thrown away or wasted every year. Meal prepping is an easy way to control food waste by making sure you’re cooking portions that make sense for your diet. It also helps to plan for leftovers, so that the food you make doesn’t go bad.
Another simple way to utilize the waste is through composting. In the United States, food is the number one material sent to landfills each year. Composting is an effective way to turn waste into soil nutrients and help the environment.
Find out if city-wide composting is available in your area — if you live in Denver, Boulder, Golden, Lafayette, Louisville, Longmont, or Loveland, curbside compost pickup is available. If you’re somewhere else in the state, check out other local composting programs or learn to compost in your own backyard!
- Travel mugs and water bottles –
Reusable travel mugs and water bottles are functional, smart, and can reflect your personal style. Using these products results in less trash sent to landfills and serves as an important reminder to be aware of single-use products like coffee cups and plastic water bottles. Some companies even offer special discounts and campaigns for customers who bring along their own cups. In 2011, Starbucks saved more than 1.5 million pounds of paper from landfills from customers with reusable mugs. Many airports and buildings now have water fountains built for filling up your own water bottle, saving time and reducing plastic use!
- Dry Shampoo –
Showering and bathing more than we need is a norm in the U.S. and around the world. Waiting for water to get warm, washing your hair, and leaving the water on while you shave are big factors in water waste. For a standard showerhead, every minute equates to 2.5 gallons of water going down the drain. Cutting down our shower time by just a few minutes can be a significant factor in water conservation and can be made easier by skipping hair washes. Although the first U.S. dry shampoo reference was over 300 years ago, recent popularity has given consumers more options. Now there are numerous dry shampoo products you can apply to your hair to look and smell clean while saving water!
- Outdoor selfies –
While it may seem like a joke, taking photos outside and sharing them online can actually help protect our outdoors. Social media is an invaluable endorsement tool that makes sharing our favorite beauty products, restaurants, and more both fun and simple. It can inspire others to visit beautiful spaces and grow support for public lands. Instagram users like @brownpeoplecamping and @unlikelyhikers have brought images into the mainstream of people who have not been represented by the outdoor industry, and influencers like @clare_gallagher_runs and @patagonia use the platform as a way to promote environmental activism. Sharing places you go can show your friends and family how important our wild spaces are.