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Baby Steps to Lower Your Carbon Footprint

The zero waste movement is wonderful, but intimidating. Here are some super simple ways to get started!

So I'm sure by now you've heard of the "zero waste" or "low impact" movement. Many times the idea of zero waste sounds perfectionist and intimidating, but there are many simple ways you can reduce your carbon footprint without having to change your lifestyle.

1. Go vegan!

I know this doesn't seem like a baby step, but hear me out: every choice you make counts. The cattle industry is the leading cause of deforestation, water waste, and causes more air pollution than all forms of transportation combined. One hamburger uses as much water as the average American would use for two months of daily showering. The great news is there are brands like Gardein and Beyond Meat that make meat substitutes that are realistic enough to trick even heavy meat eaters! I know the hardest thing for most people to give up is cheese, in which case there are wonderful brands like Daiya, Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart, and Chao that have super accurate tasting cheeses, some that even melt! Whether you're looking for cream cheese, shredded, sliced, etc. it exists, and is delicious! If you have a hard time going fully vegan or vegetarian right away, cutting back can make a huge difference as well, for the animals, environment, and your health!

2. Bring your own bag.

I know this one is so simple but many people don't realize how many plastic bags go to the ocean or landfill every year. Think about every time you've been to the store in the past month, now think about the past year, how many times did you bring a bag? How many times did you forget? You don't need to buy a fancy tote bag, just use what you have, whether it's old plastic bags, a grocery store tote, or even an old t-shirt (there are many tutorials on making no-sew shopping bags from shirts on YouTube).

3. Bring your own cup/container/bottle.

Instead of getting fast food in the cups and containers they give you, bring your own! This doesn't work through drive through, but it is a step in the right direction—or go to a restaurant instead. If tap water is safe in your area, drink it; it's unlikely that it's any worse for you than bottled water, but if you're concerned, you can always get a water filter.

4. Skip the straw!

Most people don't need straws for their drinks, if you don't, skip it! It's simple as asking a waiter or waitress to not put a straw in your drink. If you do need a straw for your drink, look into reusable or paper ones. If you're able to find an alternative that's awesome; if not, stick to the other things.

5. Buy in Bulk/Shop Local

Going to bulk stores with your own containers can help you avoid unwanted packaging, if that is unavailable, buying from big containers saves a lot in comparison to smaller ones. Also, if you shop local you can often put produce in your own bags or at least talk with the growers, and can encourage them to use sustainable packaging.

6. Ditch fast fashion!

Fast fashion is hugely wasteful when there are secondhand stores full of wonderful items, not to mention the working conditions are awful. It is good to buy secondhand whenever possible or to buy from companies who use sustainable materials.

7. Shop in the clearance section.

Seriously! Food that's in the clearance section typically is close to its expiring date, if you know you'll be able to finish it on time, it doesn't matter what packaging it was in, as the entire packaging is likely to be thrown in the garbage soon.

And these were my 5 simple beginner tips to reducing waste, and here I have some links to websites where you can buy metal straws and other low waste goods!

Vala Rogers
Vala Rogers

I am 19 and a student in the social service work field, I'm vegan and aim to do whatever I can to make the world a better place, please also check out my tumblr blog

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