By Hannah Knighton – Marine Biologist, Science Journalist
Hi, I’m Hannah Knighton, friend of Sanuk! I’m a freelance science writer with a focus on wildlife and the environment. I have an earthy soul, constantly finding myself drawn to nature. Though my studies focused on the ocean, I’m equally drawn to lakes and the mountainous landscapes.
I’ve turned my passion for understanding and connecting to the natural world into a career where I can communicate my love to others. Along the way I hope to be able to provoke a few others to be more tender and loving towards the world too.
I hope to provide resources that lend to informed lifestyle choices by exploring where science, spirit, and self intersect. That’s why I’m here today to share with you some simple swaps and tips towards a more sustainable lifestyle as we move into a new year!
Make that Mask Reusable
Since face coverings have become a daily requirement, ditching the disposables and stocking up on reusable masks is a great way to reduce waste. If you are using disposable masks, cut the strings before you throw them out to minimize the chance of entanglement, just in case it comes into contact with wildlife.
Minimize your Intake of High Polluting Products
High polluting products? Think: meat and dairy, which require a lot of energy and produce high emissions. You don’t have to go vegan to work on your impact in this area. It’s fine to start small, even replacing one meal a week with a vegetarian option is a meaningful start.
Use Those Reusables
Dust off that tumbler in the back of the cabinet and revive the grocery bags that you stuffed under the sink after only remembering to use them once. It’s time to start using your reusables! The best way to remember to use your reusables is to make a habit out of it, for example keeping your grocery bags in your car so they’re ready for each trip! Before you go and buy new reusable products, remember the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already have first.
Beware of Vampire Energy
This is when plugged in devices draw power even though they’re not being used, which ends up being a serious energy consumer. Save energy and money by unplugging items like chargers and coffee makers when they’re not being used.
When the Weather’s Right – Bike!
If biking is something that’s accessible to you, it’s a great way to reduce carbon emissions from driving. Replacing short drives with biking will do wonders for your carbon footprint. If biking isn’t an option for you, try carpooling or public transport when safe to do so. These are low emission options too!
Seriously, Skip the Straw
Well, at least start with plastic straws. Plastic pollution, straws included, is toxic and dangerous to marine life. Keep a stock of paper, metal or bamboo straws. These are easy items to keep in purses, backpacks, glove boxes, etc, so they can always travel with you! If you’re already on top of the straws, up your game by adding utensils to your travel stash.
Make Plastic Swaps
Just like meat and dairy, plastic is a high polluting product. And just like you don’t have to go vegan to make an impact, you don’t have to go zero waste either. Make simple swaps around your house, there are loads of kitchen and bathroom items you can swap for reusable products. An easy bathroom swap I recommend is to switch from shower gels and shampoos that come in plastic packaging to bar soaps, shampoos, and conditioners!
Save Energy in the Laundry Room
This also means reducing the energy bill that comes with it, so it’s a win-win! Keep your wash loads large, consider air drying your clothes, and wash with cold water when you can. Reducing your footprint here is even as simple as when you wash your clothes. Hot afternoons lead to a peak in energy use, so wash in the morning on these days. When it comes to winter weather, late night wash loads are best.
Keep Your Closet Green
Thrifting is the most eco-friendly approach to fashion. A lot of resources go into making clothes, water, energy (carbon), and labor. When clothes get tossed, it’s a waste of the energy and water that went into making them, not to mention it just ends up in a landfill. Donate your clothes instead of tossing them, go thrift shopping when you can, avoid fast fashion and shop sustainable brands.
Individual changes are a great start, but there’s still large scale change that’s needed for a more sustainable future. With the power of your voice and the use of your dollar, you can vote everyday to show where you stand. Shop small when you can, and support sustainable brands and businesses whose practices align with your values.
There are many steps you can take towards a more sustainable life, I hope some of these were helpful! Remember it’s okay to start small, if we want large scale changes we need to work our way up. We may not be able to save the world on our own, but at least we can live our best, eco-friendly lives!