A Guide to Realistic Sustainable Living
On some level, sustainable living is something I’ve always believed in. I love the ocean, I love to scuba dive, I love to be outside in general and I totally knew that protecting our environment was important. That said, I had NO idea where to start, so I just didn’t. Until about three years ago.
When I was in college, I started trying to pay more attention to what I was buying and then ended up working at a small store called Winslet & Rhys (unfortunately it’s closed now) that sold slow fashion and sustainable home good products. As I learned more about different brands and tried different products, it began to feel less intimidating to me and I slowly started to make the switch to more intentional living.
In 2019, I’m aiming not to purchase a single piece of clothing that I do not absolutely positively need. So far (grated, it is still January) the only things that have been necessary are a belt for a pair of jeans that was falling down and a bridesmaids dress. I so often get tempted to buy everything from brands I believe in, and this year, my waste-free life looks like saying no to things that aren’t necessary.
My biggest two thoughts on this whole way of living are these: ONE, do not throw away perfectly good household items, beauty products, clothes, etc because they weren’t made sustainably. If you throw away a brand new box of ziplock bags when you buy reusable ones, you’ve totally missed the point and contributed to the immense amounts of unnecessary waste.
And TWO, you don’t have to do it all at once and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Living naturally, sustainably, and ethically can cost significantly more than purchasing one time use plastic and cheap clothes from Old Navy. It’s not reasonable or affordable for every family everywhere to purchase the most intentional products all the time. Be realistic and do your best. :)
With that, my three favorite resources are Think Dirty App which ranks products by how natural they are and tells you the exact breakdown of ingredients (often times, natural products do well with sustainable packaging, but not always), Public Goods which sells home products and refills in minimal packaging, and Package Free Shop which literally mails anything you buy wrapped in newspaper and no actual packaging. As an FYI, Public Goods works kind of like Amazon in the sense that you have to have a subscription with them to order products, but we cancelled our Amazon subscription, replaced it with Public Goods and have found it to be worth every penny.
In posts later down the road, I’ll be sharing more specific products and brands that I love, but in my brain, realistic means starting small. Cancel Amazon (it wastes SO much shipping material that goes straight to the trash), set your mind to avoid single use plastic all costs (any plastic that you use only once. For example, disposable water bottles, snack packs, etc), and start browsing through Package Free and Public Goods for some good starting points. Good luck!
Featured in the image above are the following natural and low-waste/sustainable skincare brands: Public Goods, Little Barn Apothecary, Swell Botanicals, Butcher & Bee, French Girl, Cocovít, Trader Joes (not always, but often), and Package Free Shop.