Sustainability 101: Where to begin

Becoming an environmentally and sustainably aware consumer, a "Green Consumer", typically carries a negative connotation with it. Many people believe that eco-friendly products are "too expensive" or "not good quality" or "not made to last". These unfortunate rumors shield people from seeing just how easy and simple it is to start shopping and benefiting from the life of a Green Consumer. 

Don't be the pouty-faced, intimidated shopper who sees shopping for sustainable goods as a daunting and annoying undertaking that will take years of research, millions of dollars, and for your diet to consist of only vegetables. 

Shopping sustainably is one of the simplest tasks that has been made into a complicated endeavor by false rumors that have intimidated shoppers teetering on the edge of ditching un-sustainable goods for sustainable ones. To clear your mind a bit and push you in the right direction, we recommend taking these small steps to begin easing yourself into the Sustainable Product realm.

1. Start Small

It wouldn't be smart for you to immediately buy an entire Tesla Solar Roof for your first Sustainable purchase. As much as a Solar Roof would be a benefit to your energy bill and the environment unless you can afford it, it would put you in the hole about $43,000. With that said, we recommend starting even smaller than this, microscopically even, by trying to replace small items you use every day with a sustainable alternative. One item you can start with that is commonly overlooked is your toothbrush.

Bamboo Toothbrushes are an extremely easy item to change out for their un-sustainable and disposable counterpart- the plastic toothbrush. Bamboo is an extremely sustainable material to utilize for products as it is biodegradable, strong and long-lasting, and naturally immune to fungus and bacteria which means it requires no harmful chemical-treatments that other wood receives. Bamboo is also one of the fastest-growing plants so running out of it is not even an issue. So every-time you brush your teeth (hopefully AT LEAST twice a day) you can feel good knowing that your Bamboo toothbrush will be keeping one less plastic toothbrush out of the landfills for thousands of years.

Another way to distance yourself from plastics is by ditching plastic shopping bags and resorting to paper or reusable ones. Ditching plastic shopping bags and other single use items like to-go containers, coffee cups, and water bottles for more sustainable choices is a very simple and easy way to leave plastic items behind.

Slowly but surely, more and more States are implementing a ban on all single-use plastic bags at grocers and retailers. Of the 8 states that have passed this ban, there are nearly double the number of states that have laws protecting the use of plastic bags. Large Chemical Corporations utilize lobbying to ensure that their plastic bag production doesn't lose another customer to State law. 

However, just because your state hasn't or doesn't pass the ban on single-use plastic bags doesn't mean you can't as an individual. There is no law banning reusable bags so use them, don't wait for anyone to tell you!

2. Stick with small, but think 'Long-Term'

Some items aren't always easy to replace with a more sustainable one. Items that require metal, like pots and pans for cooking or even a razor for shaving, present a different set of obstacles, but not ones that can't be overcome. Let's stick within the toiletry realm of staying small but with items you use every day and will most likely use your entire life, like a razor. 

Safety razors are a great alternative to disposable razors. Disposables make an enormous amount of plastic waste and are not as great for your skin as they seem. According to the EPA, approximately 2 billion disposable razors are thrown out each year. The clever "science" behind a new easy-glide disposable razor is all marketing-gibberish and just equates to more and more razor cartridges finding their way into a trashcan. A 2020 report from Statista states that 158 million Americans use disposable razors and this figure will increase by the millions at the current pace.

Newsflash-using a disposable razor, unfortunately, doesn't make you a very unique person if that's what you're striving for. 

Safety Razors are far superior to disposable razors. Safety Razors are typically constructed with an all-metal/steal design and because of that, a lot of razors can be recycled. In addition, the steal/metal frame provides a ton of durability. Not only that, safety razor blades stay sharper for longer which means less of switching to a new blade. When you do have to switch, buying replacement safety razors is a breeze. When buying in bulk, blades will only cost you around twenty-five cents. Plus, safety razor blades lead to less skin irritation and result in a smoother shave than disposable razors.

Aside from the environmental and hygienic benefits of a safety razor, these things look damn nice on your bathroom countertop.

Another Small item that some of us use (nearly 500 million times) every day is a plastic straw. Straws, amongst other plastics, are destroying the ocean. According to a study conducted by the World Economic Forum, by 2050 plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish. Resorting to metal and steel straws drastically reduce the one-use plastic straws that are thrown, some 500 million per day in America alone.

The more of us that switch to metal straws the fewer videos we will see of plastic ones being pulled from the noses of turtles and other sea life.

3. Slowly expand your Green Consumerism

Once smaller, more sustainable products have become part of your shopping regiment, begin to slowly introduce sustainable products into other areas of your life that need more of it.

For example, if you live in a city, try biking to work instead of taking the bus or a taxi. Not only will you save a few bucks at the end of every month but you'll be getting a great workout in at the same time. And instead of going out to eat for lunch on your lunch break, bring food with you instead and put it in a reusable container. This will save you from becoming part of the millions that throw out plastics during their lunch break.

Social Change

Being a Green Consumer doesn't need to be difficult. It doesn't take a lot to understand, it is not an expensive endeavor, and it doesn't require extreme changes to your diet or your lifestyle.

Starting Small is the best place to begin your transition to shopping more sustainably. Replacing items like your toothbrush doesn't require a lot of effort and it jump-starts your green consumerism journey. 

The next step after starting small is to think in the long-term. Stick with replacing smaller items you use every day but think about ones that you will most likely use for a lifetime. Items like your shaving razor are another small, but long-lasting product to make a positive impact on the environment by switching to a safety razor. 

Lastly, begin to introduce other parts of your life to green consumerism. See how and where sustainable purchasing and living can be moved into your life. It is important that all of us begin to see the necessity and positive impact of Green Consuming.