Using eco-friendly beauty, cleaning, and kitchen products, recycling instead of trashing, and making other small everyday changes to become more sustainable and eco-friendly are becoming more prevalent, which is a great thing!
While environmental statistics are somewhat scary, the percentage of Americans who want to make a change is encouraging. A 2019 study by Southern Cross University, which surveyed Americans and Australians, found that "93% of respondents indicated general concern for the environment."
Of course, bigger environmental changes will occur by regulating corporations, but there are things we all can do to help the cause. Where we choose to spend our money is a huge factor. Investing in companies that are ethical, eco-conscious, and that give back to their communities is a good start.
Voting for people—or running for public office!—who care about the environment and who will take action is another way to make changes. Taking a cue from countries like Switzerland, France, and Denmark which all have an overall EPI score of 80 is another way to encourage change and a happier, healthier, sustainable way of life. According to the study, "Nearly 77% of eco-conscious consumers were satisfied with their life, compared to 54.8% of consumers who weren’t eco-conscious."
Buying products from companies that use natural ingredients, are sourced responsibly, and work to offset their carbon emissions is becoming more important to consumers. Holding companies accountable for their part in the destruction of the environment, demanding transparency of practices and ingredients, and insisting on products that are not only non-toxic but are beneficial to the environment is important. Sustainable practices are becoming more common-place thanks to conscious consumers.
Researching sustainable, carbon-neutral, and eco-friendly companies and using cleaning products from brands like Blueland, ECOS, and Dr. Bronner's will replace tons of toxic chemicals from entering our homes. Just make sure to actually recycle the bottles if they come in plastic! Some brands forgo the plastic bottles, which we love to see and come in compostable refill packages and provide glass bottles to use indefinitely.
Responsible clothing brands like Pact, Summersalt, and People Tree take on environmental issues that have plagued the industry for decades. Pact partners with Fair Trade Certified factories which in turn take care of their employees and the environment. Pact also has carbon offsetting shipping practices, thoughtful packaging, and a giveback box that sends your gently used clothing to non-profits. Summersalt uses 78% recycled materials for their swimwear and ships in recycled materials. People Tree claims they were the "First fashion company to be awarded the World Fair Trade Organisation product label. These certifications guarantee People Tree’s dedication and compliance to the principles of fair trade, covering fair wages, good working conditions, transparency, environmental best practice, and gender equality."
Shoe brands have also gotten into the sustainability game. Allbirds, Thousand Fell, and TOMS's new Earthwise collection are eco-friendly brands that meet or exceed high environmental standards. When the season is over or your child has outgrown the shoes consider donating them instead of throwing them away. The same goes with clothes, outerwear, and even bags and purses.
Switching to eco-friendly options in the world of feminine hygiene products may be off-putting to some, but that's likely because they don't know how good these products can be! Thinx underwear, the Diva Cup, and biodegradable applicator-less tampons like Cora have given women more options for their time o' the month.
If you're pescetarian, vegetarian, or fully vegan, more power to you! However, if you're not ready to go whole hog, consider occasionally replacing meat products with foods like legumes, tofu, and soybeans. Not only will it be beneficial for the environment, but it'll also be good for your health! According to a [study](https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/43/2/265#:~:text=Considerable%20evidence%20from%20long%2Dterm,mortality%20(4%E2%80%936) by the American Diabetes Association, "Evidence from long-term prospective cohort studies has demonstrated that diets high in red and processed meats are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer (particularly colorectal cancer), and all-cause mortality."
It goes on to say, "Similarly, such evidence along with the evidence from short-term intervention trials strongly suggests that replacing red and processed meats with plant-based protein sources (including legumes and nuts), poultry, and seafood has the potential to reduce risk of chronic diseases and premature death."
According to the same study on the environmental side of agriculture, the study states, "Livestock production (particularly ruminant animals) contributes the vast majority of the greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the agricultural sector, which comprises 22% of global total emissions, and also leads to environmental degradation by means of fertilizer run-off, deforestation, and desertification."
Check out some of our delicious meatless options to incorporate into your weekly meal planning!
Solar energy has come a long way since it was first used on a University of Deleware building coined, "Solar One" in 1973. According to Solar Energy Industries Association the combination of declining costs for installation, hardware costs, and incentives like the Solar Investment Tax Credit have made solar power an economic and environmentally sound choice.
Taking public transit, carpooling, and investing in an electric vehicle are all ways to reduce our carbon footprint. The US Department of Energy lists its tax credits for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, with some receiving up to 7,500! Some vehicles are also available for state incentives. Car companies Ford, GMC, and Nissan are following in Tesla's footsteps and coming in hot with new hybrid and electric cars and trucks.
Planting native plants, flowers, and grasses in your yard contribute to biodiversity. These plants are acclimated to grow in the natural climate and soil, require less water than lawns, and help reduce air pollution. They also provide a habitat for native birds, butterflies, and insects. The United States Department of Agriculture encourages growing native plants through education and conservation through its Celebrating Wildflowers Program.
Donating to or volunteering your time with local or national nonprofits and organizations is a sure-fire way to feel more like an environmentalist. Greenpeace, Arbor Day Foundation, and the Sierra Club are established nonprofits that help protect wildlife and their habitats, encourage creative initiatives to combat environmental catastrophes, and enlist everyday volunteers to help make changes in the world.
Locally, planning a litter clean-up day, recycling initiative, or working in a community garden can help you meet like-minded folks, learn something new, and help the environment! A win-win-win!
Learn more about conservation and ways to become more environmentally friendly by reading books on the topic, watching documentaries, and becoming involved in local wildlife and natural preservation areas. Documentaries and docu-series on Netflix, like David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, A Plastic Ocean, and the series Our Planet, among many others, explore topics like deforestation, climate change, and how we can conserve our natural resources and save our one and only planet.