11 Easy Tips to Help You Lead a More Sustainable Life

From eating green to reducing your carbon footprint while flying, we have all the tips on how to do it!

Photography by Calope. Mother Erth transforms manufacturer-rejected plastic destined for landfills into colourful reusable bags.

As the world possibly faces its sixth mass extinction event, there’s a movement underway to fix the system. Here are some innovative and easy ways to change how much of an impact your lifestyle has on the environment. The future starts now and even small changes can have a big impact.

1. Alt mode

Maintain a one-week diary that charts all your plastic usage and you’ll be shocked. Stock up on green alternatives to your daily essentials: stainless-steel straws, reusable cutlery and coffee mugs, and green school and office supplies. Onyx+Green, Package Free Shop and Raw Office are good resources.

2. Long game

Invest in cloth produce bags (like Flip & Tumble and Simple Ecology) so you’re not wrapping all your fruits and veggies in plastic, buy reusable food wrap for your leftovers (Abeego and Etee make great alternatives out of hemp, cotton and beeswax) and carry your own tote bags to the store.

3. Pretty green

Swap single-use cotton pads for Unwrapped Life’s washable bamboo rounds. Invest in a refillable makeup palette, like the one from Kjaer Weis, which allows you to mix and match products and build a custom collection. Instead of the disposable plastic razors you pick up every time you’re at the drugstore, buy a gorgeous stainless steel razor that’ll last for years—we love Oui Shave and Edwin Jagger.

Photography by Daniel Harrison. (From Left) UNWRAPPED LIFE BAMBOO ROUNDS ($17 for 7). AG HAIR ROSEHIP balm ($28). THE BETTER SKIN CO. amaze balm ($47).

Multi-purpose products like The Better Skin Co.’s Amaze Balm save you the packaging (and money) of buying several different products for your every need. Use it as a moisturizer, a cuticle balm or an overnight mask. Save electricity by air-drying your hair. Products like AG Hair’s Rosehip Balm Hair Dry Lotion help prevent frizz and give you a styled look without heat.

4. Eat smart

Buy groceries in stages, so you don’t end up throwing away produce you weren’t able to use by its expiry date, and keep a log of how much you and your family eat in a week.

Eat “ugly” produce. Tons of good produce is discarded because it’s bruised or naturally imperfect and doesn’t meet store standards. Companies like FlashFoodBox, an Ontario-based subscription service, work with local farmers to rescue “imperfect” produce, including potatoes, apples and root vegetables, before it’s tossed out. Grocery chain Loblaws offers fresh and frozen foods under a lower-priced line named Naturally Imperfect.

Produce is best when bought fresh and in season, because this involves the least amount of intervention. Learn what to buy and when. If you don’t know how to cook an unfamiliar vegetable, just ask the vendor.

5. Lady bits

Close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. Opt for a greener period with washable period pan­ties like Thinx, silicone menstrual cups that will last up to 10 years (Lunette, Diva and Lena are popular choices) or reusable, organic cotton sanitary products by brands like Hannahpad.

Thinx Hi-Waisted panties ($50)

6. Cause & effect

Support beauty brands that partner with charities whose proceeds benefit environmental causes.

Montreal-based Zorah Biocosmétiques pays 1 per cent of the proceeds of its mineral sunscreen to the David Suzuki Foundation, which focuses on everything from marine protection to environmental rights.

Proceeds from the sale of Rahua’s Enchanted Island Salt Spray benefit The Pink Flamingos Project, which protects endangered species on the Galápagos Islands, 1,000 kilometres off the coast of mainland Ecuador, where founder Fabian Lliguin grew up.

Since the inception of The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation in 2007, the brand has issued over $2.4 million in grants for programs in areas like honeybee health and conservation. Burt’s Bees has also been carbon neutral since 2015 and employs a zero-waste policy.

7. Contain it

Instead of buying (and quickly discarding) travel-size versions of all your essentials, buy one set of travel containers in various sizes that you can refill each time you travel.

8. Stay

Look for hotels that are B Corporation-certified, which means that an environmental or social mission is built into their ethos. Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel recently became the first B Corporation-certified hotel in Canada—and only the 11th worldwide—thanks to its commitment to supporting local businesses and artists and to being more eco-friendly. It has two green roofs and organizes regular sustainable food events.

9. Smart flyer

According to The New York Times, “one round-trip flight between New York and California [generates] about 20 per cent of the greenhouse gases that your car emits over an entire year.”

If eliminating air travel is impossible:

  • Try to take non-stop flights, because the more times the plane takes off, the more fuel it uses.
  • Travel light—the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel it burns.
  • Flying business or first class leaves an even bigger carbon footprint—because fewer passengers are accommodated in those cabins—so book yourself into economy instead. (Finally, an advantage to going coach.)
  • Flying is more fuel-efficient over long distances, so for shorter trips, consider alternative means of transportation.

10. Flight path

Some airlines offer carbon offsets by, say, donating to conservation efforts or funding a renewable energy project. United, Delta and JetBlue are on board
with this.

11. Listen up

It’s 2018, which means that whatever it is you’re looking for—even ways to live a more sustainable life—there’s an app for it. Here are four apps that will set you on a greener path.

Finery This app, created by Brooklyn Decker and Whitney Casey, analyzes your wardrobe and offers fresh styling solutions to help you look at your existing closet with new eyes.

Oroeco Keep track of your carbon footprint by entering your daily decisions and activities—from shopping to eating to driving—and receive personalized tips on how to reduce your impact.

FairTrip Visiting a new country? This app connects you with local artisans, restaurants, businesses and organizations so you can help support the community you’re visiting.

JouleBug Overwhelmed by the prospect of going green? This app turns your goal into a game, with activities and challenges to help you make your everyday habits more sustainable.

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