The idea of changing up our lives and homes in a major way to live a greener existence is tempting for those of us who are, well, let’s just say it — freaking the hell out about the state of our planet. Replace all the plastic! Ditch all the toxins! Go vegan! Get solar!
But, even though the motivation there is no joke — seriously, just look at how much trash you can save in a year with these swaps — the fact is that trying to make loads of big changes, all at once, doesn’t tend to work. (Sound familiar?) So, while I wouldn’t call anything I mentioned above a bad idea — and I really do want to get solar (Hello? Sunshine State!) — I also know that there are a lot of smaller steps we could all work on taking on a regular basis to make a pretty darn big impact.
So, to get this eco-friendly ball rolling, I thought I’d share a few small swaps and changes I’m making — and I hope you guys will jump in with what you’ve got planned in the comments!
I haven’t used a plastic straw in … I don’t know how long. Living near the beach means that a lot of area restaurants are on board with banning them (or at least asking if we want one before popping a plastic straw into a drink), and for the most part, it’s not a big deal. However, there are certain times when a straw is just called for (like milkshakes!) and in those instances, I’ve now got the perfect solution from S’well.
I was already a big fan of their sleek, insulated bottles, and now they’ve introduced these reusable, flexi straws made of high-grade stainless steel and FDA-grade silicone. They come in a four-pack (with a cleaning brush!) for $12, and every purchase supports charity partners that protect the environment and bring water to the world’s poorest communities. That’s worth raising a glass, right there!
A Rad Ride
You might recall that, earlier this year, I spent a day out in Venice, Calif., with Cannondale to check out their newest bike, the Treadwell. The concept behind the Treadwell is to make riding a bike just as much fun as it was when we were kids — and, as I discovered in California, it totally delivers with a comfy seat, lightweight but hella sturdy frame, Shimano Altus 9-speed shifters (which make logging some miles SO MUCH EASIER — sorry, beach cruiser), and tires that truly grip the road.
I’ve had a chance to do an extended review of the Treadwell EQ here at home, and let me tell you, having a bike that’s this easy (and super fun) to ride makes me much more likely to leave my car behind and do as much commuting as I can on two wheels.
In fact … I’m planning to do a month dedicated to this, where I only drive when absolutely necessary (maybe beyond a certain number of miles, or when I need to transport something heavy — like a dog, or if I’m going somewhere I absolutely cannot show up all sweaty). I’m really looking forward to it! But I’m waiting for Florida’s summer thunderstorm season to slow down first, and I’m also hoping to get my hands on a Cannondale Wheel Sensor, which connects to the free Cannondale app and automatically logs every mile ridden (and does so much more — it’s seriously badass), because how cool will it be to see exactly what I’ve done over the course of a month! (Normally, this bike comes with a wheel sensor, but because I got one early, mine came without. But stay tuned! I’ve got so much more planned for this. And if you have tips for using a bike as go-to transportation, I’m here for ’em.)
I basically always have a reusable water bottle on my person, so skipping the plastic bottles of water is no biggie for me. However, I’m trying to up my game by remembering to bring my own cup when I know I’ll be getting a coffee to go. It isn’t that hard, and I have yet to meet a barista who minds using the one I’ve brought along — it’s just a matter of making it more of a habit.
Same thing goes for leftover food. If I go out to eat, there’s generally a solid possibility that I’m going to order something big specifically so I have leftovers — so why would I not bring a reusable container in which to pack them?
Cleaning With Cloth
I recently researched an article about paper towels, and when I learned how many we go through (in the US alone, we’re talking about more than 13 billion pounds every year) and that they’re not recyclable due to both shortened fibers and the fact that most are contaminated with food and trash (although composting may be okay), I knew I wanted to make some changes in my use.
While I haven’t gotten this home fully onto the cloth napkin-only train, I have made a point to have a bag full of cut up cloths and towels at the ready for cleaning. So, instead of wiping down my counters with a paper towel, I use a square of old actual towel. When my old dog has an accident, I’ve got loads of material to soak it up and clean the area thoroughly; and it’s easy enough to just throw it all in the wash afterward.
Looking for additional green inspiration? Check out these podcast eps!
Movement expert Katy Bowman will have you wanting to walk everywhere.
You’ll find solid plant-based eating tips from Audrey Dunham.
Sarah James of the Selfie Podcast and Whoorl has the best thoughts on green beauty.
Okay, let’s hear it: What are some simple green swaps you’re willing to make, starting today? —Kristen