Although my primary reasons for pursuing minimalism have nothing to do with the environment, that doesn’t mean it’s never on my mind. Even though these changes aren’t enough on their own to stop major environmental concerns like climate change, they can still make an impact if enough people do them. As Anne-Marie Bonneau, a zero waste chef, put beautifully, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Not all sustainable changes are accessible to everyone, and there’s no need to feel guilt for prioritizing your needs over environmental impact. If you’re somewhere it’s not safe to drink water that isn’t bottled, by all means, drink bottled water. If you live in a food desert and your only option for food is items wrapped in plastic and delivered, enjoy what you get fully. This post is not meant to be a guilt-trip or shame, but rather, to recommend a few realistic swaps to reduce waste that I’ve tried and enjoyed.
Solid bar toiletries instead of bottled
This is probably the most fun switch I’ve made so far! I live near a LUSH store so I’ll usually stop in when I’m in the area if I need something, but you can also order many solid items through their website. I am currently loving the Montalbano shampoo bar, the American Cream conditioner bar, and a solid shower gel I purchased during last year’s day after Christmas sale (I don’t remember the scent & it was seasonal). I’ve really enjoyed them, and honestly they work better than the drugstore “natural” brands and salon brands that I’ve purchased before. LUSH also sells tins to store them in that work well for in-shower storage and for transporting them, I was expecting to have issues with water pooling in the bottom but so far that hasn’t been an issue! There may also be local options for solid toiletries, so be sure to check out what’s available near you. I’ve been transitioning over to solid toiletries as I run out of what I already had and have yet to have one disappoint me. They also usually last longer than their liquid counterparts because you’re less likely to accidentally use too much, so it’s evened out to be the same price or cheaper.
I got a set of food huggers off Amazon a few months ago, and am surprised how much I use them! I haven’t seen them anywhere else yet but I hope to soon. They work wonderfully for saving halves of fruits and vegetables in the fridge, and work much better than single-use options like plastic wrap or Ziploc bags. Just cut the item in half, cut up what you need of it, and gently press it into the food hugger. Once it’s in and you’ve made sure it’s a tight fit, fold the walls down to create an air-tight seal around the edges of the produce. I’ve used it on sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, apples, and cucumbers and have yet to run into an issue. They’re the same price as a couple boxes of Ziplocs and will last quite a bit longer.
The market has suddenly grown to include several reusable period products, and my personal pick has been Thinx! I had seen people rave about them and was a bit dubious, but used their 60-day guarantee to give them a try. I figured the worst case scenario was that I would get my money back if they didn’t work. Instead, I ended up making a second order and getting a couple extra for people to try! They are comfortable, work incredibly well, and the latest addition to their stock holds up to 4 tampons worth per use. After they’re used, you just rinse them out, toss them in a gentle cycle with other delicates, hang dry, and they’re ready to go again.
Even these simple swaps can significantly reduce the amount you’re throwing out on a day-to-day basis! A few other simple swaps include metal or silicone straws instead of disposable straws, unwrapped produce instead of produce sold in mesh bags or plastic containers, milk in glass jars I can return to be re-used (and get a credit toward my next purchase!) instead of plastic or cardboard, and mechanical pencils where I can replace the lead and eraser instead of tossing them and purchasing a new one. I’m far from perfect, and finding new ways to reduce my waste every week, but these were some of the easiest everyday swaps that made the most impact! What has been your favorite sustainable swap?