The She Spends Guide to Sustainability

Hey She Spends fam! We’re working on becoming a little more sustainable in our daily lives, so we asked our Facebook group how to do it. We thought some of the tips were so helpful that they deserved their own blog post. What follows is some of the best ideas for staying frugal and environmentally friendly, all sourced from you!

Alicia: I'm going to start carrying a jar and an extra bag or two in my work tote. I’ll use the jar when I need water or coffee out and the bags for grocery shopping, which are my two biggest wastes.

Emily: Switch from pads and tampons to DivaCup!

Amanda: Biodegradable makeup containers! Likewise, recycle your used beauty product containers. Some brands like Lush and MAC Cosmetics have recycling programs, where a certain amount of recycled goods can be exchanged for a new product like lipstick.

Kylie: Stowaway Cosmetics has a really cool exchange program (re: makeup containers)! Their sizes are smaller so that you use all of the makeup in the appropriate time frame, but then you get discounts for mailing your containers back!

Alex: Shopping at bulk stores with canvas bags or jars is a great way to reduce plastic and it’s often cheaper. Also, if you go to Starbucks or the like, you can bring your own thermos to be filled with whatever drink and they’ll often give you a small discount. Also, a good place for tips is the Zero Waste community. Zero waste bloggers usually list easy swaps you can make to get started!

Tamara: I hired a service to compost food waste. They give me a bucket, I put biodegradable waste there, and they pick it up every two weeks. It really helped reduce the amount I throw out.

Ed. note: Our readers managed to find a few compost services local to them, including those in Chicago, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Baltimore/Washington, D.C., and St. Petersburg, Florida. If you’re interested in finding one in your area, search “compost + [city name]” and you should be able to find something.   

Hanya: Look for ways to use food scraps in the kitchen before you toss them (i.e. bone broth, veggie stock, fried rice, etc.). Contact local community gardens or organic farms to see if you can drop off. Compost is farmer's gold. If they have their own compost pile, you can just drop off the food waste/leaf litter. If it's an organic farm they may be stricter about what they accept, though. For collection, a small trash bin works. Plastic is probably not the best (because it’s plastic) but specifically because it can get stained and holds onto odors over time. Amazon has specific compost bins for kitchens with little carbon filters to neutralize any odors. As long as you empty it out often, it shouldn't be an issue though.

Rachel: The metal bins from Amazon are great! Just check first at the compost pile place because sometimes they’ll give you a bucket with a lid for free. Also, make sure you’re really aware of what you can compost.

Emma: I think bringing your own lunch is a fiscally and environmentally responsible choice, which is cool. I also try not to use disposable straws whenever possible, because they're so, so bad. Another interesting thing I've learned is that reusable bags are only environmentally friendly after a certain number of uses, depending on what they're made of, which makes me want to make better use of all the tote bags and such I have lying around.

Jemma: I rarely go anywhere without a canvas tote, I don’t use plastic veggie bags at the grocery store, I hang dry all my clothes about 90% of the time, I try to say no to lids, use a safety razor instead of plastic and use an out-of-date iPhone even though I could upgrade. I think it’s about changing everyday habits to the point where you don’t even think you’re doing it for the environment anymore, if that makes sense. It’s exhausting to think about every little thing I do that it “bad” so making small, convenient for my lifestyle, habitual changes is the best — and keep adding to them.

Sophia: I just switched to using reusable veggie bags instead of the plastic ones at the store!

Emily: I carry cloth totes in my trunk for grocery store visits, and if I use a plastic bag, I re-use it for garden trash or my bathroom trash can. My family also re-uses wrapping paper and gift bags, which may not be very ~minimalist~, but is helpful come holiday season.

Abigail: Keeping a mug and silverware at my desk helped a lot and also feels a little fancier!

Nikki: Terracycle is amazing! So many companies with recycling programs I would have had no idea about without Terracycle.

Alexandra: To cut down on waste in the bathroom, I use a Boie toothbrush, Lush shampoo and conditioner bars, and Dear Kate underwear with a Luna cup. To cut back on kitchen waste (beyond composting), I use Stasher bags, microfiber towels, a coconut fiber sponge, good quality tupperware, to-go mugs, reusable water bottles, reusable grocery bags and I buy food in bulk. I also work to eat less meat and I try to make my own bread and granola bars. I replaced dryer sheets with natural fiber dryer balls, and I use a real mop and duster over Swiffer products. When I can, I buy secondhand and fix my own clothing. For ease, I keep a to-go stash of a foldable tote, a reusable water bottle, a coffee mug and a reusable spork by the door that I take when I leave the house. Finally, I order tap beer from the bars rather than anything served in plastic.

Tori: Trash is for Tossers is a great resource.

Laura: My boo and I have stopped buying paper towels in favor of cloth napkins and just plain washcloths/rags for cleaning stuff. Paper towels are such a regular part of life, so it was a little weird to get used to at first, but once they were gone we realized how totally unaffected we were by not having them around. If there's ever something random that requires something disposable for cleanup we just use toilet paper. I highly recommend, it feels awesome to not be throwing it away constantly!

Lisa: I keep a roll of paper towels around for emergency home messes (read: cat barf) and camping trips. Otherwise, it's all cloth napkins, dish towels and cleaning rags. Since I moved to Florida I have used 1.5 rolls of paper towels! And I have been here since November 2016! The rags just go in my hot cycle with my sheets and towels; it's never enough to require an extra laundry load. Also in that load you'll find the washcloths I started using instead of makeup remover wipes. You can soak them in a solution or just drip a little water and witch hazel on them before use.

Andrea: Reduce red meat consumption — beef production is among the highest contributors of methane on the planet.

Did we miss anything? Comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.

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