April is Earth Month, and April 22nd is recognized around the world as Earth Day. It was founded in 1970 as a way to bring environmental issues to the frontline. Today, there are over 1 billion humans who engage in Earth Day activities spanning 190+ countries. In my journey to living a more simple life, I am trying to be more intentional with my purchases to live a more sustainable life.
What Does Sustainability Mean Anyways?
“Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth’s biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. According to Our Common Future, sustainable development is defined as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”Wikipedia
While Earth may seem like a large enough place, it has limited resources. The more we use up these resources, the less will be available for our future generations. I want to do better because I care about the future.
During the early days of the Coronavirus Pandemic when lockdowns were happening around the world, we got a glimpse into just how much impact the human-created population was having on the earth. In Ontario, the province I live in, a recent study showed that the early lockdowns, airborne pollution decreased by 20%. Why should we care? Because it has been proven that people living in cities with bad air pollution were more susceptible to covid-19. CBC News · Posted: Mar 13, 2021; “Cleaner air during pandemic lockdowns shows what’s possible, say researchers”
Sustainable Life Choices
Here are a few things I’ve done over the years to try to live a more earth loving life.
Reduced reliance on my car. I changed jobs so that I could use public transit to commute to work instead of using my car. Bonus: I also got a lower insurance rate, since I no longer used my car for work.
Changed the way I meal plan. I used to waste so much food because it would spoil before I got around to making it. I now plan my meals around ingredients I have on-hand, and/or where a couple of meals using the same ingredients so everything gets used up by the end of the week. For instance, Monday make a big pot of spaghetti noodles with tomato and meat sauce. The next day combine leftovers in a casserole dish and top with a basic white sauce and nutmeg. Two different dinners and no food waste!
Buy meat in bulk and freeze in an appropriate portion size for your family. Defrost the meat when you want to use it. We used to buy fresh meat and leave in fridge, and often we couldn’t get through it and by that time it was too late to freeze for later so it would get tossed.
Another change we’ve made was reducing one-time use products for reusable ones. This has significantly reduced the amount of garbage our household produces. Most of our garbage is product packaging.
Some of the products we changed up are:
- Laundry products. Did you know that most liquid laundry detergents are mostly water? Liquid laundry detergent needs to be packaged in plastic bottles or bags. More environmentally friendly versions – buy concentrated formulas that you mix with water or buy powdered detergents boxed in cardboard or metal. We made the switch to Nellie’s Laundry Soda. I’ve been using this for a couple of months and haven’t noticed a difference in our clothes. It cleans well. I love how the ingredients are simple, there is no scent and it comes in a recyclable metal tin. I also use Nellie’s Oxygen Brightener for whites or stained clothes. Both Nellie products are available at Canadian Tire. TruEarth is another option I’ve seen lots of advertising and great reviews on but haven’t personally tried.
- Dishwasher Detergent. If you buy the tabs, they are usually wrapped in dissolvable plastic which still ends up in our water. I switched to using Nellie’s Dishwasher Powder.
- Disposable Dryer Sheets. These are full of chemicals. We use these wool balls.
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. But these in bulk and in many colours. Each colour for a different area (i.e. Yellow for bathroom, Gray for Kitchen, Green for dusting furniture). I love the Canadian Tire’s Frank Brand of microfiber cloths. Using these has significantly reduced waste from using paper towels.
In the Kitchen
Bottled Water. Bottled water is the worst, in my opinion. Where I live in Toronto, Canada, tap water is safe to drink. If you are worried you can buy a filter like the Britta. Our fridge has a built-in water tap with a filter, but even before having this fridge, I would drink tap water. It’s also an excuse to get a cute reusable water bottle. 🙂 I’ve liked my favourites here and here.
Reduce Food Waste. I already briefly mentioned this one, but find creative ways to use up leftovers and be more strategic in your meal planning. If you do a meal plan, stick to it. Food often can go to waste because the meal plan wasn’t followed. The plan should be flexible enough to accommodate life unexpected events. I have a few recipes on the blog that are great for using up leftovers.
Reducing one-time use products in the Kitchen. We reduced our reliance on one-time use products by investing in some reusable storage containers. This eliminates the need for plastic wrap or plastic food containers. We use beeswax wraps, glass storage containers with lids and stasher silicon bags in various sizes.
Other Sustainable Life Hacks
Leave Car at Home: The benefits of living in a city like Toronto is having access to a great public transit system and most neighbourhoods are walkable. I live only a 10-minute walk from 4 grocery stores.
Reduce Paper Consumption. We switched to e-statements for all bills (except City of Toronto, which for whatever reason doesn’t have a paperless option – come on TO, it’s 2021!). kobo (exception is kids books)
Shop at second-hand stores. I have bought many clothes for myself and my family second-hand over the years, as well as household items, décor and toys, and books for my daughter. I also regularly contribute to the stock at my local thrift stores!
Grow Your Own Food. Possibly my favourite thing we’ve done is grow our own food. We can’t obviously grow it all, but what we can grow (herbs and some vegetables) means I don’t have to travel to go get food, and best of all, the food I do grow is much fresher than anything I would buy. We use the iDoo indoor hydroponics system. I will likely do a post dedicated to this system. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Things you can do for the earth to celebrate earth day
- Make a commitment to make small changes to live a more sustainable life
- Invest in any of the products I mentioned above.
- Plant a tree on your property or start seedlings for your summer vegetable garden
- Leave your car at home – instead, go for a walk or bike ride
- Use reusable shopping bags