May 20, 2024

Living Sustainably: Everything You Do Counts

The older I get, the more conscious I get about living sustainably. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ll die trying. Too often I hear people say things like “I don’t have time to think about that” or “What does this one thing I do really matter?” Well, it does matter. Everything we do matters, and to those who have future generations coming along, I would imagine it should matter even more. Me? When I’m gone, that’s where my personal lineage stops. However, I do have a few likable nieces and nephews that I’d like to make the world a better place for. That’s why I adopt ways of life that help making living sustainably easier and simply a habit. When you form that habit, you don’t have to think about it, and BAM! You’re part of saving the planet. Here are a few ways that we can all contribute to Mother Earth. Even though they are small, like myself, they can be mighty. Strength in numbers.

The Corkcicle!

Reduce Plastic Bottles

One of the things I hate seeing the most in life is plastic water bottles. It may not be possible never drink from one again, but we can reduce. People litter with them, and what they don’t even realize is that they are littering their bodies with the microplastics that reside in these little devils. Don't even get me started on the microplastics found in the fish we eat because they are in the ocean. In my real estate company, when a client closes on their dream home, I give them a reusable Corkcicle bottle. They are not only really nice, but they reduce the plastic water bottles usage. Living sustainably absolutely includes this gesture and nod towards our earth, so please do your body and earth a favor and reduce the plastic water bottles.

Refillable Cleaning Products

I’m very proud of living sustainably through my cleaning products. There is a company called Melaleuca that sells the bottles on their now and the concentrated solution in another bottle. Each bottle of solution gets mixed with water, and it greatly reduces the waste. The company is one of the MLM-types, but so many good and bad products are these days so it doesn’t bother me. I like that they don’t have bleach or any other harsh chemicals, and I can breathe after my house is cleaned without feeling like my chest is on fire. My pets are also safe from them, and that is super important to me.

Trying on an Outfit from a Vintage Store in New Orleans

Second Hand Clothing Stores

Living sustainably includes shopping at some second hand stores. I’ve found a few in New Orleans, where I live, and I am able to buy and sell clothing at a couple. Many adorable outfits have come from consignment shops, and most recently I found some vintage clothing shops that I became immediately obsessed with. Fast fashion used to be something I bought into, but now that I am older and wiser, a classic or vintage look is more my speed. Gone are the days of shopping at H&M or Zara for me. Now are the days of Poshmark or shopping local. I never regret purchasing from these places, and I encourage you to find your own local resale shops.

Farmers Market Strawberries

Shop at the Farmers Market

Shopping at the farmers market is one of the best ways of living sustainably. Buying local fruits, vegetables, and meats reduces so much of the agitation of where the world gets its grocery store items. No, I can’t get my favorite sour jelly beans from anywhere else but Trader Joe’s, but I can almost primarily eat from the farmers market on any given meal of the week. When you really start to get into shopping there, it becomes a soulful experience. You get to know the vendors, get the freshest ingredients, and you become the hit of any dinner party you have. They really have the best food and all you have to do is cook it! 

Reusable shopping bag - for anything!

Take Your Own Bag

Regardless of where you are going, try to stick a reusable shopping bag in your car or purse so that if you are out and about and buy something, you don’t have to take another bag. This is particularly useful in the grocery store realm, but it can translate into clothes shopping (second hand only, friends), antique buying, or farmers marketing. Many times I have whipped out my own bag and been thanked for helping the environment and living sustainably. Your other option is to take no bag at all if you can carry your 1-2 items to the car without one. Get used to saying “no bag please” so that you aren’t fumbling around. You’ll start to notice others who take out 400 bags for 18 items and get as infuriated as I do. But hey, you’re doing your part and that counts for a lot.

Beautiful French Country Table

Estate Sales, Antiques, or Consignment Home Goods

All of the above titles are a great place to start decorating your home. Living sustainably also means living in sustainability. In your house. I’ve gotten so many pieces from stores around New Orleans that do resale furniture, art, and nicknacks. The prices are fantastic, and many times you can get them lower than the price they list because they want that stuff gone pecan. Additionally, many of the furniture pieces were never used, but somehow found their way into needing a new home. Wouldn’t you be happy to oblige? I bet. Find unique, fun, and quirky items ready to find a second chance around you, too. You’ll be doing our earth a service, as well as your home space.

Get a Smart Thermostat

I have saved so much money with my Nest thermostat system. When I tell you that I will never live in another house without one, I am not lying. This is one of the best ways to living sustainably, or at least more so without ditching the A/C altogether. You can set it higher during the day and only turn it on before returning home. In my case, I have it on eco mode where it notices for a couple of weeks the activity in my house and adjusts accordingly. Like I said, it’s smart, and I appreciate its intelligence. Do not sleep on this purchase. You will love it when you have one of your own.

Tater Tot and I Going on a Ride

Walk, Bike, or Scoot

We are so habited to get into our cars and drive even down the street to get coffee. If we take a minute to pause and maybe slow down a little, we could take another mode of transportation. That may look like your legs, your bicycle, or an electric scooter. For me, I love walking around my neighborhood instead of hopping in my car for certain things. Not only am I living sustainably, I’m also getting in some exercise (and taking a break from writing articles like this). As I’ve stated before, much of this is changing habits. It will become second nature soon enough, and you won’t even remember you own a car.

Everything You Do Matters

Don’t ever minimize your efforts to living sustainably. It’s nearly impossible to live in a world with no plastic, no emissions, no fast fashion. We can sure try, though, and that counts as a lot. Each time you cut down on something you used to do, you’re making a huge impact. You’re teaching others around you how you live, what your goals are, and your expectations. I’m not afraid to share my thoughts and feelings around cutting down on less sustainable options. Evangelize about it. Our future generations depend on us to keep this place healthy and happy. Take it upon yourself to be part of that difference and betterment. You won’t regret it.
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