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Seven Sustainability Ideas

Every once in a while when I see a sad fact about the environment while scrolling Instagram and fall into a rut about the fact that we’re killing our only planet at a terrifying rate and no one seems to care, I usually turn to one of two things:

  • Looking up good news and facts about saving the planet and any progress that we’re making.
  • Looking up cool lil ways to live more sustainably.

And that happens decently often, so I’ve gathered a few habits over the years, though I am still far from perfect.

I also think it’s important to mention, yes, of course, I’m aware that the billion-dollar corporations are doing the brunt of the damage and it’s not super fair to blame ordinary people for their individual actions that are comparably way less significant. But I think individual actions add up over the course of a lifetime and enough people changing their individual actions has a huge combined effect. And I doubt that these mega-corporations will change much of anything until the consumers force them to. But, it brings me peace to know I’m doing something, and I need to feel like I’m contributing.

Here are some small things I do that don’t require too much effort and help me to live a little more sustainably.



At the beginning of 2023, I decided to go fully vegetarian and stop eating all meat and fish. I stopped eating all pork when I was in middle school, it just felt weird and wrong to me, not super sure why. By high school, I had mostly stopped eating red meat as well. With the exception of salmon, I wasn’t a huge seafood fan in the first place, so the only meat I was eating super regularly was chicken.

I decided to go vegetarian because I knew how much better it was for the environment, and had done some research on the meat industry in America and couldn’t rationalize supporting it. And, at that point, I wasn’t eating very much meat anyway and decided to really commit.

If you didn’t know, eating meat is actually pretty bad for the environment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the livestock sector is responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. I won’t even mention the literally insane amounts of water needed, the absurd amount of energy it wastes, or the pollution it creates. You guys can look up facts and stuff if you want to. And I also don’t want to forcefully pressure you to go vegetarian or anything. I don’t that kinda stuff is super helpful or effective, and I understand its not possible for many people. But it was a choice I made and I’m glad I did.

After a decent amount of months, I just started to feel really weird about eating animals. Like the thought of eating meat was just… weird. Felt kinda wrong. And I didn’t even want to do it anymore. Maybe all of those videos of the horrific, atrocious treatment of innocent animals got to me; or maybe refusing meat for a while disconnected me from it enough to see the truth I already knew about the industry and make the choice to actually do something about it; but I committed.



Also a New Year resolution, I decided to stop buying fast fashion clothing. And it really hasn’t been that hard.

Now, I’m not perfect and I’m also not rich, so there have been a few exceptions. I haven’t done a ton of research into shoe brands. They’re less of an issue with fast fashion because people normally keep and wear them for lifetimes (at least I do), so I didn’t really count those. Most of the shoes I bought this year were second-hand or thrifted.

Also, if you’ve ever tried to buy a sustainably made and sourced bathing suit, you know how expensive they are. I’m talking $90 for each piece of a bikini. And I cannot fathom spending that much on something so tiny. So I bought a black string bikini from Target this year while in California. There were some other exception purchases, but for the most part, I got all new additions to my closet sustainably this past year.

And I am a fashion person. I love clothes, and I love styling outfits, I love shopping, and I love getting new things for my closet. But it’s really not that hard to do it in a way that is better for the environment and for the humans who make them. I actually did some research on the fast fashion industry which I summarized in an 11-page paper for a social justice course at University of San Diego. So I know a bit about it (which I will not go into here lol). Just trust me, the whole industry is sickening: from the exploited workers who are often women and children of color living in the global south, to the horrifying working conditions, to the ungodly amounts of waste it creates. I just can’t come to peace with the idea of being a big participant in it.

So how do I get new clothes?

I’ve been thrifting for a long time. I went when I was a kid with my dad and sister to get pretty much all the clothes I wore for my childhood and he instilled a love in me. And I still love it. So a lot of my clothes come from thrift stores. I have lots of little tips and such which maybe I’ll put in another post, but it’s really so easy to find really cool and stylish things thrifting, whether it be at a small local place, online, or a huge chain store. And not to mention, it saves me a LOT of money.

If you want something super fun (but a little more expensive) go to a flea market! I went to a super cool one in California for vintage clothes, but I’ve been to some cool ones in Florida, Jersey, and Pennsylvania, so there are some cool ones everywhere.

If there’s something I specifically want, I turn to Depop. It has everything you can think of, and even with shipping costs isn’t insanely expensive. Not only is the money you spend going to real people, but it helps reduce waste and gives clothes a new life. I’ve had great luck with pants, bikinis, tops, boots, heels, and even bags from Depop.

Lastly, if there’s something I want to buy new, or I find something unique and cool online, or I want something specific, I just make sure the company I’m buying it from is sustainable. Most clothing companies have information about their sustainability efforts on their websites. Slow fashion is getting more attention and more affordable all the time. (Make sure their claims are actually doing something, not just greenwashing).

If I can’t find any information of substance, I use the site Good On You. You can search any company and see a score and report on how sustainable that company is. It’s really useful and kinda interesting too.



Me and my trusty hydrofask. I’ve had it for years. Pro tip, hydrofasks have lifetime warranties! When the one I had through high school started leaking, I emailed their customer service and they sent me a new one for free.

I have an emotional support water bottle. Many of us do. I use it every single day, and it comes everywhere with me.

If at this point you don’t have any sort of reusable water bottle, you’re lying to me. And go get one.

And also, I can’t believe I’m writing this, but please. You do not need a Stanley Cup in 50 different colors. Get one, or maybe two, if you like them- I swear I’m not judging you or calling you basic (I hate the idea of ‘basic’ in the first place tbh but that’s a whole other conversation). But if you’re buying every fucking color of the rainbow and sidechecking other people in Target, you’re not being “more sustainable” at that point, just an insane display of the American obsession with consumerism.



One really easy way to make a difference that has a huge impact is to switch to a menstrual cup.

According to Stanford Magazine, an average menstruator goes through 8,000 to 17,000 tampons in a lifetime, almost 300 pounds of waste sitting in a landfill. In the United States alone, about 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year, all of which take about 800 years to break down.

Like that’s insane. AND it’s expensive as fuck. About $18,000 in a lifetime according to the National Organization for Women.

I think the easiest way to combat the environmental impact (and cost) is to invest in reusable and sustainable period products.

Now the easiest way to do this (in my opinion) is to get a menstrual cup. You can get one literally anywhere, from Target to CVS to the grocery store. Most are anywhere between $50 to literally $6 (I actually got one for free from my university!) and comparing that small upfront investment is so worth it in the long run.

Here’s an expensiveish and cheap option.

I use the Flex brand and love it. Especially for those who are kinda freaked out about learning, this one has a ring so it pulls out just like a tampon.

And I know it can seem daunting to start using a cup but I swear its not- I actually prefer it. You can leave them in for way longer, there’s no risk of TSS, you can swim, you don’t have to carry around any products, and (I think) are way more comfortable.

And cups aren’t the only option, there are discs (which you can have sex with) and lots of brands of period underwear (that aren’t expensive and are comfy).

And when I do buy any type of pad, tampon, or pantyliner, I make sure that it is plastic-free (with no plastic tampon applicators and wrappers that are biodegradable) and is made of organic cotton.



If you shave, consider investing in a metal safety razor.

I know they look terrifying, and I started with one that I was so scared to use. I was so scared to use it that I kinda just…didn’t. I ended up giving it to my sister.

It was one of these kind. They have one blade and don’t move or bend at all. And they work, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a decent learning curve and I cut myself a couple times.

But then, I found this other brand that makes safety razors that are almost the same as disposable ones. Multiple blades instead of just one, and it’s much less rigid because the head is flexible and moves. It’s literally the same as using a disposable one, but instead of having to buy a new pack of $10 replacement cartridges every time your blades get dull, you can refill the blades with regular razors, which are like $10 for ONE HUNDRED blades.

This is the Leaf Razor, which I have and love! It feels much less like a safety razor and closer to most disposable ones. You can check them out here.

So not only is this a sustainable choice, you can save a ton of money. Cheap safety razors can be $20-40, and the one I used is pretty expensive at $89, but if you look at it as something to invest for a lifetime of use, to never buy another plastic razor, it saves hundreds.



This one means a couple different things to me:


My mom taught me how to sew when I was a kid, and I consider it an invaluable skill. I can’t make ballgowns from tablecloths (though my sister does regularly), but I can handle basic fixes: sewing up holes, hemming pants that are too long, shortening straps, sewing on buttons, and more. These things don’t take long to do and are so simple. Throwing away an article of clothing because of a small hole is silly when small fixes can extend their life for much longer.


I stain things decently often, and one way I’ve been able to keep clothes that might otherwise be ruined by visible stains is by dying them a darker color! Fabric dye is at any craft store and is inexpensive and easy to use. All you need is water and a bucket or bowl.

I use the RIT dye and I’ve had great results!


After a big closet cleanout, I took jeans that were in too bad of shape to donate and decided to make a tote bag! It took me one day and now years later, I still have and use it every day! I’ve made a couple jean totes over the years and they’re perfect beach bags too.



This one is pretty simple. There are usually just better options for everyday products that are more sustainable. Even in stores.

Try to limit plastic!

My roommates at Rutgers went through cases of plastic water bottles this semester, and seeing them stacked in our dining room made me cringe every time. If you’re worried about filtered water, buy a Brita or other water filter. I have a pretty big one that I always keep filled in my fridge, and I use it to fill my water bottle throughout the day.

Of course, bring your own bags out shopping! I keep five or so in my trunk at all times so I always have some. My favorite is this one that folds up super small and is super convenient.

At Target, chose the cardboard native deodorant over the one with plastic. I have and love it.

I use plastic-free detergent sheets from Earth Breeze over plastic jugs. I have plastic-free dish soap and a wooden scrubber.

I have reusable food storage bags I use like Ziplocs, as well as beeswax wraps that can be used like saran wrap.

I use the EcoTools biodegradable makeup sponge. It’s exactly like a normal one, and when you’re finished, you can compost or plant it.

Also, convert to bars! I’ve found a bar version of my facial cleanser which is perfect. I’ve used a couple different shampoo bars by now but have yet to find one I like enough personally to recommend. I do love this Kitsch conditioner bar though! And these are total game changers for travel too, no TSA limit to worry about!

And of course, unnecessary paper products are just that: unnecessary. Rags work just as well as paper towels and reusable plates are nicer than paper ones. I feel like I’ve also saved a lot of money in my apartment with my reusable products.

I even sometimes take my own thermos or tumbler to coffee shops to save them a plastic cup. I’ve even gotten a discount for it.

All these swaps and others like them take basically zero effort to implement and can save money while saving the planet! More and more companies are creating sustainable swaps.

I will say to be careful with greenwashing, or when companies spend more money trying to scream at you that their products are sustainable than they do to actually make them sustainable. Sometimes apart from changing the plastic bottle to green and throwing a leaf on it, nothing is different. So just make sure that the product is actually doing something. If it’s covered in sustainability buzzwords but packaged in plastic, go for the normal one that’s completely cardboard.

I know that I’m not going to single-handedly save the plant we seem determined to doom, but I think individual changes make a difference. And even if they don’t, it brings me a small peace to know I am doing something to give back to Mother Earth.