Image courtesy Maria Arvizu

In this social media-driven, technology-powered age, it is growing increasingly more difficult to practice sustainability. New products are constantly being thrown our way, making us feel that we always need, not only the best thing but the newest. In order to avoid this,  I put some tips together in order to help navigate this issue and to improve daily practices. 

Plastic is durable, cheap and versatile. It is used to package an endless amount of things which is why 35.4 million tons of plastic ended up in landfills in 2017. Specifically, plastic bottles. 60 million end up in landfills daily. Think twice before you buy a disposable drink. One use plastics largely contributes to this large amount of collective plastic waste. Instead, use a reusable—preferably metal—drink container. Juices, sodas and coffee drinks are often sold in plastic bottles as well, not just water. When packing a lunch, consider an alternative to saran wrap, like reusable wraps made from bee’s wax. Instead of plastic tupperware or one-use baggies, try glass containers for food storage and transportation.  

Most people are on a two-year cell phone plan, which encourages people to get a new phone once their current one has been paid off. A few years ago, a study was published that revealed 56 percent of people would upgrade only when their phone was totally broken, and 44 percent would every two years. If someone practices these habits over the course of a lifetime, you can visualize just how many phones they will go through, especially now that the average age someone first gets a smartphone is 10. In fact, the UN says that 40 million tons of e-waste are produced annually. To make sure your phone lasts as long as possible, keep it in a temperate area, protect the battery by not charging it constantly and update the software when offered.

The fashion industry has changed so much over time; as technology advanced, fast fashion popularized. Instead of having clothes for practicality, the focus turned more to a fast-paced, trend following lifestyle where one constantly desires the next thing. In order to keep up with demand, big brands choose the cheap and effective route, not the earth-friendly one. The amount of energy, resources and plastics it takes to make the shirt that shows up at your door goes beyond what you think. Consider supporting sustainable brands. They are more expensive generally but will last longer. Narrowing your wardrobe to a smaller set of quality pieces will help you define your style and rely less on material items in order to achieve fulfillment. Brands like Tentree, Alternative Apparel, Outdoor Voices, Girlfriend, and Pact are eco-friendly. 

Finding small ways to change your daily routine in order to help the environment is something everyone should consider. It is important to give back to the Earth, and also take less.