We know the planet is in trouble. According to NASA, carbon dioxide levels in the air are at their highest in 650,000 years, thanks to deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. Earth’s polar ice sheets are losing mass and 6.4 million tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans every year. We also know many animal species are on the brink of extinction and an alarming number of animals are exploited and slaughtered for food and clothing. And did you know that 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock and their byproducts?
With staggering numbers like these, it can feel overwhelming to help the planet and animals. In a world of nearly 8 billion people, can what we do on an individual level even make a difference? The answer is yes. And here’s how.
Shift to a vegan lifestyle
Not only does a vegan lifestyle reduce harm to animals, it also reduces your carbon and water footprints. Livestock require a lot of room and are a major cause of deforestation, which is bad news for the environment as trees trap carbon. And what about all the waste produced by the 56 billion animals killed each year for food? It pollutes waterways and can cause foodborne illness.
If you’re intimidated by the thought of going vegan, remember that making small changes over time add up. Begin by replacing meat, fish and eggs with beans, lentils, tofu and tempeh. Try out vegan milks, yogurts and cheeses. Eat more vegetables and whole grains. When your personal care products run out, replace them with products that do not contain animal products or test on animals (see below). There are loads of resources available to help you switch to more a more compassionate lifestyle along with lots of delicious vegan foods!
Looking for individual support with nutrition and shifting to a plant-based eating style? I can help!
Choose sustainably and ethically produced clothing, shoes and accessories
Not only is the fashion industry incredible polluting, it’s also riddled with human rights violations. By choosing ethical, you’re supporting fair labor and by choosing sustainable, you’re supporting eco-friendly materials and practices. We’ve gotten so used to paying low prices for cheap clothing and it’s time for a dose of reality. Yes, ethical and sustainable cost more, but that’s because you’re not exploiting people or the planet. And high-quality pieces last a lot longer! Which means more bang for your buck and less crap crowding your closets.
Before buying new, check out secondhand options. Take a trip to your local thrift store and see what you find. Online resale marketplaces including Poshmark and ThredUP offer gently used clothing, shoes and accessories at a fraction of the cost of new and have lots of vegan-friendly brands. In fact, I’ve purchased a Matt & Nat handbag, Nicora sandals and TOMS sunglasses on Poshmark! (Get $5 off by signing up for the Poshmark app with invite code tmw1689)
It seems there are eco-friendly versions of common goods popping up left and right. For example, did you know there are compostable phone cases? That’s right, durable Pela cases are made from flax and a plant-based biopolymer. Click here to get $10 off. I’ve had mine for a couple years and it’s holding up great!
Reduce your plastic consumption
So you’re cutting down your consumption of animal products and creating an ethical wardrobe, but what else can you do to help the planet and animals? I highly recommend keeping tabs on how much plastic you throw away or recycle for a week. I did this and it was incredibly eye-opening. Plastic doesn’t degrade. And “recycling” is kind of a myth when it comes to plastic (and it’s super resource-intensive). The best option is to avoid it as much as is possible and practical.
A lot of the plastic we consume is related to food packaging. Here are a few easy ways to start cutting down on plastic:
- Shop in bulk and bring your own containers
- If you prefer ordering groceries, consider Imperfect Produce
- Use cloth grocery bags and produce bags
- Carry a reusable water bottle and coffee mug (Psst… use code WHOLEGREEN10 to get 10% off my favorite metal water bottle from Tree Tribe)
- Add a bamboo cutlery set, metal straw and cloth napkin to your bag
- Choose glass and metal bottles over plastic when possible
Think about the products in your bathroom. How many of them are in plastic containers? “Green beauty” and sustainable personal care items are becoming more accessible and I’ve been working on switching over my favorite products to eco-friendly alternatives for the past few years. Some of my favorites include:
- Plaine Products shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion that come in refillable metal bottles you send back to the company when you’re ready for more. (Use code TAYLORWOLFRAMRD for 15% off)
- Natural Vegan Club deodorant and lip balm than come in compostable tubes. (Use code TAYLORWOLFRAMRD for 10% off)
- LUSH offers package-free shampoo bars, bath bombs and soaps. I personally love their face moisturizer and masks, which come in non-virgin plastic containers you can return to the store (if you return 5 at once, you can get a free face mask)
- Who Gives a Crap makes 100% recycled toilet paper and 100% bamboo toilet paper. And 50% of their profits go toward building toilets for people in need! (This link will get you $10 off)
I hope after reading this short list that you feel a bit more empowered to make a difference in the fate of the environment through your lifestyle and consumption choices! While perfection does not exist and striving for it can lead to burnout and unnecessary anxiety, know that your actions do make a difference and you can be the change you wish to see in the world.
References and Resources:
- The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics from World Resources Institute
- Choose Veg
- Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Dietary Recommendations from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Give a Sh*T: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet.
- Global Climate Change from NASA
- Going Zero Waste
- Livestock and Climate Change from World Watch
- Planet or Plastic? From National Geographic
- Plastic Pollution Coalition
- Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time
- Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet
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