How To Fix Your Eco-Footprint
AH, IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK!!!
But seriously, thank you to all the readers for your patience, and the support you have shown for the BLM movement. It's nice to know you're in good company.
Taking a few weeks away from the computer has given me an insurmountable amount of time to reflect on myself and my role in this world. What I have offered so far, what I continue to contribute and withhold, and truthfully, I didn't like everything I saw. So that’s why I have decided to begin my own quarantine makeover.
Not the type where I struggle through a month of Chloe Ting (though I did try and failed miserably), but a sort of economical makeover. Today I want to discuss a few ways I plan on improving my contributions to this world, and in turn, hope to inspire some of you as well.
To start, I made a list of my biggest economical flaws and brainstormed things I hope to improve upon. This is what I came up with:
Being more sustainable as an inhibitor of this earth.
Using Amazon Prime less for purchases
Keeping my money local for fresh produce
Eating less meat
Contributing less to fast fashion
Now let's break it down.
The word sustainable is a colossal organic umbrella that has a million branch terms, of what the average human should be doing to fulfill their part. Some of them are unattainable depending on where you live, religious practices, and what's right for your own body. For me, living in NYC makes composting a little more challenging than for someone living in a rural area. It's not unattainable, just a little more of a project.
It’s also important to acknowledge that you have to be in somewhat of a privileged position by being able to make some of these changes. Being sustainable isn't cheap. So don't ever feel bad if you can't fulfill every box on the eco-friendly checklist, because it can add up.
Here are some cheap fixes you can do yourself, and some that might even save you some money:
Buy a reusable bag from Marshalls or TJ Maxx for less than a dollar, and take it next time you go grocery shopping. Some stores like Trader Joe’s offer five cents back on every bag you save and enter you in a $25 weekly gift card drawing.
If you're a water bottle fiend like I used to be, nix the 24 pack of Aquafina, and for almost the same price buy a pack of mason jars. I was able to snag a 12 pack from Target for 10 bucks. Prefill them with water and stock them in your fridge. Poke a hole in the top and add a straw for a little zazz. Refill it when you're done, and stick it back in the fridge. Boom. Now you're always stocked and you never have to spend another cent on water bottles for home.
Speaking of straws….. STOP. BUYING. THEM. Did you know that 8.3 billion plastic straws are responsible for polluting the world's beaches today? So get your ass to target, buy a 6 pack of reusable straws, and pat yourself on the back, because you just played a part in helping to save the ocean.
When you go to get your morning coffee, bring a reusable cup. Any coffee shop in Manhattan will be happy to fill it for you, plus you can get some cute and trendy ones from TJ Maxx for under five dollars.
Get yourself a pack of silicone bags. You can grab a four-pack for about five bucks and they are almost always dishwasher, microwave, and freezer safe. I bought six for when I get lazy and don't wash them in time for work the next day. They're the perfect sweet and simple way to reduce your eco-footprint.
If you live in an apartment like me, you probably don't have enough room for a trash can, recycling bin, and compost box. So get a small 6 L compost bin to stick under your sink, (or in your freezer to subside the smell,) and collect just enough to make fertilizer. Any waste you're able to save is less waste in a landfill. Making your compost can be simple, and is a great source of nutrition for your plants if you find a good recipe. Your plants will be happy and so will you!
If you are in a position where you could take a step further, buy all of your new sustainable goodies from places like Etsy, or other small local businesses instead of Target/Amazon/Walmart. They can be a little pricier, but that's just so they can stay afloat. I find it's very much worth the extra two dollars to keep the money in your community's economy instead of sending it straight to the pockets of Jeff Bezos.
Speaking of Jeff fucking Bezos,
Avoid Amazon Like it's your ex.
Trust me, I know. It’s really hard to break the Amazon cycle. Everything you could ever need at your fingertips and just two short days away, but we need to stop. Bezos is set to become the world's first-ever trillionaire by 2026, and that's incredibly inexcusable.
With 1 trillion dollars, he could spend one million every day and not run out of money for the next 3000 years. He could also clean up the pacific garbage patch overnight with millions of dollars leftover, or pay a year's salary for 18 million teachers.
With one trillion dollars Jeff Bezos could bring every American family above the poverty line and still have 824.7 Billion dollars.
So to put it simply, he doesn't need an extra 20 from you.
Next time you need a quick gift or quirky something, look for a locally owned boutique. Every town has one and they are always in need of more support. I have been fortunate enough to work in two in my life, and both establishments always have the best gift options for anyone on your lists.
For any miscellaneous gift/ clothing/ art needs, hit up Etsy. They have everything from paintings to bubble wrap and a lot of sellers have adapted free 2-day shipping to compete with big businesses. There's also more opportunity for personalization on products which is something you aren’t normally offered with Amazon.
Books have been one of my absolute favorite pastimes during quarantine, and one of the best things about them? You don't have to buy them new to enjoy them. That's why lately I have been putting my money into Better World Books. So far the company has invested in libraries, and donated to literacy programs, reduced waste in landfills, and worked to offset carbon emissions. If you're too antsy to wait for a hand me down and want to get your hands on a new release, opt for Bookshop. An online retailer that connects you to local bookstores so you can keep your money local without having to leave the house.
Another alternative to Amazon's food shopping is Thrive Market. An online marketplace that costs a small price of 5 dollars a month (as opposed to Amazon primes 15), and you get access to thousands of organic products for a fraction of the cost. It has carbon neutral shipping, and each membership fee goes towards supporting another membership for a low-income family.
Staying on the topic of food. I’m going to commit to something that honestly, I REALLY don't want to do, but it's something that needs to be done.
I love steak.
It's my favorite dinner in the world, along with tuna, chicken, and basically every other meat. The problem is that the meat industry is responsible for around 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is cause for the literal destruction of our earth. Now I’m not going to say tonight is my last night eating meat, because that's just not the truth. However, I will be cutting my meat intake down to two dinners a week as opposed to my regular seven. This little economical cut can do a lot to weaken the big business meat industry, and in turn, will force more people to support local butchers. We would also see a 6-10% mortality reduction globally if everyone stopped eating meat. It's healthy for you, it's healthy for the planet, it’s a win-win!
If cutting meat out just isn't possible for you, that's fine! But try to get your meat from local butchers. The quality is higher, and the meat is fresher. It's the same with produce. Sure you can get it from Key Foods, or King Kullen, but you don't really know where it's coming from, or what insecticides were used during growth. Working directly with farmers ensures the quality of products, and helps boost your local economy.
So next time you're craving a fruit salad, wait until your weekly farmers market pops up, or order online from places like thrive market. Bring your reusable bag and stock up on every fruit and veggie your heart desires.
Finally, there is one huge contribution I am guilty of making towards the decay of our planet, and it has only recently come to my attention. Fast fashion is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights, and maritime shipping combined. If people continue giving their money to retailers like Fashion Nova, Shein, and Forever 21 the fashion industry's greenhouse gas emissions will surge over 50% by the year 2030.
A huge thanks to Vogue Magazine for allowing me to take part in a wonderful panel with Marc Jacobs, and Edward Enningful two months ago. The panel discussed the fast fashion imprint being left on the planet and ways we can use our platforms to ease that mark, so here’s some information I’ve been lucky enough to absorb, and now so can you.
The first thing to do is simple: Stop buying as much. Being in quarantine it can be hard not to throw your debit card around, I mean, what else is there to do? But every 20 bucks you throw to corporate businesses is another 40 pounds thrown into a landfill. And those cheap clothes take a lot longer to decompose than higher-quality pieces. Most fast fashion pieces are partially composed of plastic fibers, so that brings me to my second adjustment…
Learn which textiles are good for the planet and which aren't. If you have the opportunity to purchase clothing made from linen, bamboo, wool, or organic cotton, spring for that before you grab the first polyblend you run into.
When it comes to staple pieces (I’m looking at you little black dress), spend more money on those, than a pair of studded dad sneakers you won't wear next season. Always Always Always invest in your staples. I know at first it can be hard to justify spending 50 bucks on a plain white tee-shirt, but when you take a day to think about it, it makes so much more sense. The more you spend on clothes you'll wear every day the less you’ll have to replace them with fast fashion pieces that will end up in the trash every two months, and trust me, it adds up.
If you have a hole in your clothes or a weird stain, don't you dare throw it out! Either cut up the salvageable pieces and repurpose them or donate to a thrift shop. Thrifting is a huge trend now and someone is bound to find your old top with a little smidge on it and flip it into something brand new.
Learn how to alter. If your favorite dress busted a seam, or you found a cute pair of jeans second hand but they need to be an inch smaller, knowing how to alter will save your ass. It’ll stop you from constantly buying replacements and can elevate your wardrobe by making all your clothes fit you just right. Grab a sewing kit, find a tutorial, and get to work.
Well, there you have it. My plan, and your’s to get our money into the pockets that need it. The adjustments from this article are just small ways you can improve your carbon footprint, but any contribution is a contribution. If you can do more, that's fantastic! If you can only do half? That's great too.
I know I’m going to slip through the cracks on a few of these, and I’m going to try hard not to, but honestly...I’m excited to get to work. It feels good, to do good, and what good is better than the good of our planet? I hope I inspired some of you this week to get a little work done, and I hope to see you all making a difference soon.
Forever in your corner,