Written by: Meg Metzger
With some scientists predicting a grave future for Mother Earth, the topic of sustainability can feel pretty overwhelming. Have you ever had a to do list so long that you ended up in a state of decision fatigue and chose to take a nap in-stead? We are often subject to this all-or-nothing thinking, but the pursuit of perfection can be a major obstacle to achieving incremental progress. You have all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect!” and it’s about time we evolve into a new way of thinking, “practice makes progress.” With collective action, we can make a difference!
Earth Day is upon us and there is no better time to reflect on how we are impacting our planet. While it’s important to remain hopeful, it’s vital that we focus on what is within our control to help minimize the very real decision fatigue and avoid napping through a rather important to-do list. Here are some real world actionable steps you can start taking today to support the well-being of our planet:
Bring in The Natural Light
Turn off the lights and let the sun’s incredible power light up your home! Not only are you saving money and energy, YOU are benefitting from those golden rays cascading on your skin. The sun provides us with energy and vital nutrients (hellooo vitamin D!). Not to mention, being exposed to the morning sun will help regulate your circadian rhythm—but that’s a topic for another day. Do you know who else is reaping the benefits? Yep, you guessed it—your plants and pets. Have you ever seen a dog or cat sprawl out right where the sun is beaming in? Or a plant creep its leaves towards your window? Everyone wins in this seemingly simple act.
Support Local Farms
Most communities offer farmers markets these days, making it easier than ever to support your local farm. Purchasing your meat, eggs, and produce from a local source helps minimize the greenhouse gases from transporting food. With most small farmers practicing organic or regenerative agriculture, they are helping put carbon back into the soil where it belongs. We have all heard the detrimental impact that conventionally-raised meat has on our planet. Animals raised in an organic, regenerative setting are not only happier and healthier, they actually support the earth by enriching the soil. Knowing where your food comes from is important and it can be one of the biggest impacts on the sustainability of our planet.
Grow Your Own Herbs and Vegetables
I know, more food talk, but hear me out. There is something so rewarding about nurturing a tiny seed into something that nourishes your body. Again, these veggies are going to be packed with more nutrients and you can actually taste the difference. If you’ve ever had a homegrown tomato, you know what I’m talking about. Besides, it saves you a trip to the store (or farmers market!) and it saves you money.
Limit Single-Use Plastics
This one seems like a no-brainer, but a little reminder never hurts. Most single-use plastics are just not necessary. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to find reusable straws, bags, cutlery, and storage containers. They end up being more affordable in the long run, and as an extra bonus, they come in adorable designs! Try choosing restaurants that use recyclable, to-go containers, and decline those little, pre-made, plastic-cutlery baggies when you can. Again, do your best. Some situations are simply out of your control.
Shop Sustainable Fashion
More and more clothing companies are hopping on the sustainable bandwagon, using ethically sourced and recycled fabrics. For example, at UpWest, we use recycled polyester, organic cotton and recycled nylon. We also use paperless receipts in store and recycled poly bags online, and pay for shipping when shoppers donate gently used clothes with Give Back Box. Since more people are donating their clothes, there are good quality options at second-hand stores for an affordable price.
In addition, fixing torn clothes or broken shoes rather than throwing them away or replacing them is a valuable option. If you don’t know how to fix your favorite pieces, there are small businesses who will do it for you, often charging you less than what it would cost to replace them with something new. Besides, clothing can be sentimental. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and give thanks to your most joyful pieces.
We have grown accustomed to instant gratification and have lost the traditional homemaking and trade skills that our grandparents once relied on. There is a reason skills like gardening, sewing and cooking have been around for so long—they allow humans and the planet to not only live, but to thrive. Remember, practice makes progress. You are only responsible for what is within your control.