By Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN, Founder of The Well Essentials
Earth Month is the perfect time to think more about how our choices affect the world around us, and even though the annual celebration is coming to an end, that doesn't mean you can't start now! Whether you’re already a master recycler or a beginner looking to learn more about sustainability, embracing a more sustainable way of living is a smart way to improve your own health and the health of our planet.
If getting started feels a bit overwhelming, here are five simple tips to help you incorporate sustainable living practices into your everyday lifestyle today.
Tip #1: Say Goodbye to Plastic Water Bottles for Good!
Statistics show that if we don’t change the amount of plastic we consume and dispose of soon, by 2050, there may be more plastic in our oceans than there are fish! Luckily, there is a lot we can do in our daily lives to keep this from happening. Simply switching to a reusable glass or stainless steel water bottle is an excellent way to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles entering our landfills and oceans. It’s also much better for your health, as endocrine-disrupting chemicals are present in plastic water bottles and can leach into the water over time. This isn’t good for your hormones or your health, and is just another reason to choose the reusable option.
Tip #2: Switch to Reusable Food Storage Wraps and Containers
Switching to reusable bees wraps or cloth bags is a great way to reduce your need for plastic wrap and Ziploc bags for food storage. Switching your plastic Tupperware to glass Tupperware is also a great way to not only reduce your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (found in the plastic), but will also help limit your plastic use on a daily basis. Glass Tupperware containers last for years, making them a much better long-term investment as compared to plastic Tupperware, which can accumulate food and mildew buildup over time.
Tip #3: Embrace Bulk Shopping and Bulk Food Storage
Buying in bulk is a little-known secret that can help save you money and is much better for the environment. Next time you’re at the grocery store, see what options they have for bulk, as they may have a variety of your pantry staples! Take some small organic cotton bags with you to the grocery store and use those to collect and purchase your bulk goods. When you bring your new bulk goods home, pour them into glass mason jars and enjoy how pretty they look sitting on your counter or in your pantry! Buying and storing in bulk are not only more cost effective, but they're also incredible ways to reduce your overall plastic waste, accumulated simply from the packaging of foods.
Tip #4: Reduce Your Household Food Waste by Planning Ahead
Here in the United States, we waste close to 40 percent of the food we produce. This is a massive environmental and public health issue that cannot be ignored. So, what can you do at home as an individual or family to reduce your waste? The next time you're prepping veggies for lunch or meals for the week, make a note to save the scraps in a large bag or bowl. Place them in the refrigerator, and at the end of the week, use all of your collected scraps to make a delicious homemade veggie broth. You’ve now turned something that would have just gone to waste into a delicious, nutrient-dense base for future soups.
It’s also a great idea to get in the habit of planning your main meals for the week and making a list before you go to the farmer's market or grocery store. Having a general plan of what you need to purchase and what you already have at home is a surefire way to ensure that no food goes to waste in the refrigerator.
Tip #5: Make Your Favorite Nut Milk at Home
This is a super simple tip, but for all the plant-based folks out there, making your own homemade nut milk is so much better for you. It helps you avoid those unwanted gums and fillers, while also reducing the need to purchase your nut milk in yet another plastic container. It’s a win for your health and the environment!
Just by making these simple lifestyle changes, you’ll soon be on your way to living a more sustainable lifestyle and you'll be able to feel better knowing that you are doing something good – both for yourself and for the planet.
Author Bio: Megan Faletra, MS, MPH, RDN is an experienced global health and sustainability advocate and creative entrepreneur specializing in social impact communications strategy and content development. Prior to founding The Well Essentials, Megan worked in global health nutrition and water security programming both internationally and domestically. Megan holds a Master of Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine and a Master of Science from Tufts University School of Nutrition. She also is a Registered Dietitian and completed her dietetic training at Brigham and Women's Harvard Teaching Hospital.