Sustainability. Climate change. Reducing your footprint. Eco-friendly. I feel like those are big buzz words right now — and for good reason. It seems like so many people are talking about ways in which they are creating a more sustainable lifestyle — everything from reducing the amount of plastic they use to using clean household products. It’s all AMAZING — but does anyone else feel a bit of overwhelm?
As in — there is so much information out there and so much “you should do….” that is all starts to get really noisy? And suddenly it’s all very overwhelming, because you can’t do everything all of the time? I’m raising my hand a little bit here. Last year, I had a bit of an “ah ha” moment when it came to sustainability and how Dane and I would approach the topic in our home. The bottom line? Slow and steady.
Our Realistic Approach To Sustainability
The truth is that humans are imperfect…it’s how the Earth got to where it is now, after all. And we can’t do everything and be everything all at once. Or at least I can’t. And that is me being honest with myself and setting realistic expectations to the changes I’m able to make.
When it comes to the topic of sustainability in our home, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to immediately throw out the bad and replace it with something new right away. In fact, that wasn’t an option, because it just seemed wasteful.
I also knew that incorporating a snowball of small changes instead of a ton of changes all at once was going to be key in my succeeding.
Before we get started, I do want to note that being able to move toward sustainability in our home is a privilege I recognize not everyone has and I think it’s something worth noting. Please know that me sharing our approach to sustainability is not meant to shame, disgrace or otherwise impose feelings of self-doubt or limited self-worth into anyone who cannot make changes in their life right now.
One thing we’ve always done was use refillable water bottles, so not having single use plastics or bringing them into the house was easy. On the off chance we bought juice or something at Costco or the grocery store, I made sure every single bottle went into the recycling (something I was admittedly not great about previously). Now, it’s second nature.
Reusable bags seemed like a pain in the ass for a long time (real talk) — making sure they were in the car, making sure I had enough, yadda yadda. See also: I was being lazy. And then Hawaii banned plastic bags and that was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my act together. The reality is that reusable bags make my life EASIER. Yes, easier. They’re bigger and sturdier which means fewer trips from the car to the house. I have enough to easily complete a trip to Costco or the grocery store and they fit everything I buy. The jumbo ones from IKEA and Christmas Tree Shops work best in my experience.
Saying no to straws is a simple approach we took to do our part when we’re out (we never bought them for home). Most places in Hawaii will ask you if you want one or will give you a paper one (they get soggy IMO), but I’ve learned that other places bring them standard. We usually just say no thanks and honestly — I don’t miss them. At home if I’m drinking a smoothie, I use the metal straw I won from Katie Show Blog and I love it!
Laundry is an area I’m still working really hard on, but using cool water instead of warm or hot was an easy “fix” I made after reading some tips online that talked about more energy being used to heat water. We also hang dry more than half of our clothing, tumbling dry only a small selection of items like sheets and towels.
While it’s not always my favorite topic, Dane and I share a car…and we have for as long as we’ve lived in Hawaii, except for about 11 months where we had a second car. I will be candid and admit that there are times where this is a huge pain in the ass, mostly because we don’t live in a city where we can easily walk to places, but at the end of the day, I work from home and if I truly needed a car regularly, I always have the option of dropping Dane off at work and going about my day.
For cleaning products, I’ve transitioned our daily cleaner to a homemade cleaning mixture I make in a re-usable glass bottle I ordered off Amazon. I talked more about ordering the bottles this spring. I do still have various store-bought cleaners in my cabinet that I haven’t used up yet, but throwing them away seems wasteful and opened containers cannot be donated.
Does anyone still get paper bills in the mail? We were getting one (Hi, USAA, stop wasting paper, please) and we put a stop to it. Everything is online nowadays for the most part (it seems), so keeping all our bills digital makes sense too.
If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know I’m a big fan of reef safe sunscreen and I give all the credit in the world to living in Hawaii for that one. Seeing first hand the damages to the reefs is definitely very eye-opening and something that is hard to convey via photo or video.
A couple weeks ago, we bought our last pack of paper towels. I said to Dane — this is silly. Why are we still using paper towels when we have a ton of wash cloths? I want to create a station in my kitchen of wash cloths to use for wiping up messes that I can easily wash and re-use.
And maybe all of this is “DUH KAIT”, but this week, as I watched many of the UN proceedings on climate change, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit more inspired to make a couple more changes.
One area I want to improve upon for 2020 is clothing. I still have a lot to learn and knowledge is power, right?
I get it — I’m not single handedly saving the world. I’m still a major work in progress and I slip up sometimes, but I am learning more of what I can do each day to “do my part” and how I can improve. When we know better, we can do better.
I would love to open up a conversation about sustainable and eco-friendly practices you might be employing at home. Let’s encourage each other and recognize that we are all (hopefully) doing our best, yes?