7 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Hiya Gorgeous!

Here in our wonderful online community, we chat about lots of fun and fascinating topics related to taking impeccable care of our internal environments (aka our bodies and minds, baby!). But today I want to shift our focus to the beautiful environment around us.

Because guess what? Our internal environments are deeply (and forever) connected to the environment we live in. We can’t take care of one and neglect the other—our health and the health of our gorgeous planet depend on it. If cancer has taught me anything, it’s that.

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know I’m passionate about protecting the environment. I try to live as consciously as I can and help others do the same. Now, I’m not perfect—who is?! But over the years I’ve learned simple ways to practice more sustainable living, and today I want to share some of those tips with you.

One more thing before we dive in, I know that articles like these aren’t always sexy page turners, but I gotta say, I’m concerned. Between the extreme weather patterns, rapid species decline, vanishing ecosystems and glaciers, life as we know it is undeniably changing and it has already begun affecting our health, jobs and futures.

Our home, this beautiful planet, needs each of us to step up and become responsible stewards—which includes using our vote. So let’s start by adopting a few simple habits (this is by no means a full list) that can make a big impact.

7 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Reduce your Environmental Impact

1. Say goodbye to disposable plastic straws (when possible).

This first tip has been big in the news lately. You’ve probably seen those awful pictures of our sweet sea turtle friends with plastic straws stuck in their noses.

The hard truth: By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish (here’s a great resource on this subject). All of that trash floating around pollutes the water and kills the marine life. Imagine if your home was filled with someone else’s garbage—yuck!

One super impactful change we can make is to stop using disposable plastic straws when possible. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re an essential tool for people with certain disabilities—something we can’t overlook as we work to reduce our impact on the planet. Here’s an article that covers this topic and offers easy solutions (win win!).

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • Celebrate your favorite local businesses when they use alternatives like biodegradable paper straws or reusable stainless steel straws. Tell them how much you appreciate their commitment to the environment with a stellar Yelp review or post on social media!
  • When restaurants do offer you a straw, kindly refuse. This is your chance to spread the word! And remember—leading with compassion makes all the difference.
  • Get a reusable straw for when you’re out and about. I love the FinalStraw because it’s easy to keep clean (check out the video on their homepage, so fun and sassy!).

2. Ditch disposable plastic water bottles, too.

Even though most disposable plastic water bottles are recyclable, the vast majority end up in landfills. Plus, manufacturing those bottles creates a lot of toxic waste, too. We don’t need disposable plastic bottles to lead easy, mobile, happy lives. Not so sure? I’ve got your back!

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • Here’s yet another way to get more use out of your mason jars: Turn them into your to-go watering hole with a Cuppow! They’re sustainably produced and free of nasties like BPA and PVC.
  • Now let’s talk about water filters. Just because you’re not using the packaged stuff anymore doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice safety. One purification and filtration system that many people swear by is the Berkey. I also put together a comprehensive guide to the best types of water filters so you can find one that’s right for you—check it out here!

3. Bring your reusable shopping/produce bags with you everywhere.

Whether you live in the city or the country, you probably see your fair share of plastic grocery bags on the street, stuck in tree branches, floating in the river and so on. They’re everywhere.

And the thing about those bags is that they’re not easy to recycle. Many grocery stores do have plastic bag recycling receptacles, but let’s be honest—we’ve already got plenty of errands on our to-do lists. Why not make things easier?

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • Most of us have a stockpile of reusable totes we’ve collected over the years, so let’s put them to work! Using what you already have is the most eco-friendly choice, but if you do need some, these reusable bags from Baggu are a good option. They hold up to 50 lbs and take up very little space, making them easy to keep on-hand.
  • Don’t forget about produce bags. I like these purifyou bags for a reusable option. Or, consider just ditching the produce bag whenever possible. Think about it: Many fruits and veggies come with their own packaging—orange and banana peels, avocado and potato skins… You get the picture!
  • Keep your bags and other reusable containers easily accessible by the door so you never forget to grab them on your way out.

4. Cut paper towels and napkins, not trees.

We’ve talked a lot about single-use plastic, but let’s not forget about paper. Many of us just grab a paper towel to clean up a mess or use several paper napkins when we’re out to eat without considering the consequences. It’s nothing to be ashamed of—we all have habits we’ve practiced for years.

Scaling back our use of disposable cleaning supplies is a simple, effective way to reduce our environmental footprints. And it’s a lot easier than you might think!

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • Give old t-shirts and towels new life by turning them into cleaning cloths. Simply cut them to a size that works best for you and toss ‘em in the wash when they’re dirty.
  • Get a set of cloth napkins made from sustainable materials. The Little Market has lots of pretty handmade options (plus, you’ll be supporting a company on a mission to empower women artisans around the world). Or, try making your own with recycled materials—look at you, gettin’ all crafty!
  • Keep a couple of reusable napkins in the glove box of your car so you’re not tempted to grab the disposable ones in a pinch.

5. Choose better personal care and cleaning products.

Most of us use many personal care and cleaning products every single day. These products can be harmful to the environment in a number of ways—the toxins they contain, the way they’re produced, how they’re tested (often on our furry pals—we can’t have that!) and so on.

And the environmental risks these products pose aren’t off in some distant future. They’re happening now. You’ve probably heard about the debate over problematic ingredients often found in sunscreen (oxybenzone and octinoxate). Growing scientific evidence indicates that these toxins can cause major damage to coral reefs—so much so that a city in Florida recently voted to ban the sale of sunscreens containing them!

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • Get friendly with EWG’s Skin Deep Database. This incredible resource will help you keep your cabinets and drawers clear of stuff that’s bad for you and the environment.
  • Try DIY (check out some genius ideas for at-home beauty and skincare from Crazy Sexy Beauty Editor, Danielle Shine here and here)! We’re programmed buy, buy, buy, but one of the most sustainable things we can do is to take a more minimalist approach to cleaning and personal care products. If you do need to purchase something, consider supporting some of the badass companies doing their part to protect their environment. Juice Beauty, 100% Pure, breathe and puracy are just a few of my faves.
  • Be mindful of how you dispose of bath and beauty products. It’s usually not safe to dump them down the drain. Brands like Origins have programs that will responsibly dispose of your empties (from any brand!).

6. Practice conscious online shopping.

Online shopping is more convenient than ever, but it comes at a price. Excessive packaging is one obvious challenge, but it doesn’t stop there. We’ve been trained to expect lighting-fast shipping. This has led to increased demand on unsustainable modes of transportation.

There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to this subject, so while I’m not going into detail here, I suggest watching this quick video—it totally opened my eyes!

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • When possible, choose the slower or no-rush shipping option. Doing this reduces the demand for fast, environmentally damaging transportation.
  • For orders that contain more than one item, services like Amazon often offer the option to package items together instead of shipping them out one at a time as soon as they’re available. Selecting this option cuts down on packaging and inefficient transportation.
  • Stay mindful! I’m not saying that we should stop online shopping altogether, but small adjustments can make a big impact. Try batching your purchases or picking something up from a local store when appropriate.

7. Make a difference with your plate.

You’ve heard me say this before, but I can’t overstate how damaging animal agriculture is to our planet. Raising beef and lamb for meat produces 250 times more greenhouse gas emissions than farming legumes (source). And according to the EPA, animal agriculture is the number one cause of water pollution.

Plus, more than 70 percent of antibiotics in the U.S. are used on animals to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in their unsanitary surroundings (source). This not only contributes to water pollution, but it also harms fish and other aquatic animals.

Simply put, plant foods have a much smaller environmental footprint than meat and dairy. We can feed more people all over the world AND protect our irreplaceable natural resources by including more delicious veggies, fruits, grains and legumes on our plates.

Sustainable living simplification tips:

  • You don’t have to cut all animal products to make a difference. Start by treating meat and dairy as condiments rather than main dishes. You might be surprised how satisfying plant-centric meals can be. (Need plant-based protein ideas? Check out my guide here.)
  • Wanna go all in for a few days? My Crazy Sexy Reset is a great way to immerse yourself in a plant-based lifestyle without diving into a long term commitment right away.

Before you go, I want to make one thing crystal clear. Pursuing sustainable living does NOT have to mean a 360 degree lifestyle makeover. But I won’t sugar coat it, we don’t have a lot of time to waste when it comes to taking better care of our environment.

So let’s take small, sustainable steps that make us feel good and do good for the world. It all starts with making little tweaks to our existing habits and coming up with smart ways to use the stuff we already own. We’re in this together, sweetheart!

Your turn: Which one of these sustainable living tips will you try? Let me know in the comments below (or share your own favorite eco tip) so we can be each other’s accountability buddies!

Peace and eco-lovin’,

Kris Carr

P.S. Eating for the planet has never been easier.

My Crazy Sexy Reset: 3-Day Plant-Based Cleanse is a great way to take a more sustainable (and delicious!) diet for a spin. Get started here!

Crazy Sexy Reset