Updated: May 9, 2020
Most of us have been quarantined at home for over a month and a half now (I'm on my 8th week!!!). Depending on where you live, plans may have already rolled out on when your area will start to gradually open. Which, if all goes well, we should all be able to enjoy the summer weather one way or another.
I've taken the past 8 weeks at home to reflect on my life, how I was living it, and what changes can be done to improve my overall happiness and health. I'm sure a lot of you have been doing the same too, with a few drinks in between. I would love for all of us to reflect on our past and realize that the way we were living is not sustainable. As humans we all contribute too much waste, and most is unnecessary. Just a few simple changes to old habits will not only lessen the amount of waste, but will also save you money. I've created a list of swaps that you can make this summer to contribute less waste on the planet along with links of where you can purchase these items.
Who doesn't love quarantine shopping? And then when you get out you'll have new exciting things to show off to your friends and family.
Most sunscreens that we use are chemical based and are extremely harmful to the environment, specifically to the ocean and its coral reefs. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are chemicals commonly found in sunscreen that contribute to coral bleaching. Around the time sunscreen use became prominent, coral reefs started to become at risk. Coral reefs provide us with oxygen and without them, ecosystems in the ocean would collapse. Coral reefs are just as important as trees when it comes to providing us with oxygen. Mineral based sunscreens are the best alternative to chemical based ones. Those of you who have visited Hawaii should be familiar with this as Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are banned from being used there. Most drug stores or supermarkets should carry mineral based sunscreens. Here are some of my picks:
Sand Cloud: SPF 35 $18/2oz
Babyganics: SPF 50 $13/8oz
Sun Bum: SPF 50 $15/6oz
Babo Botanicals: SPF 30 $18/6oz
I've recently come across this brand called Sand Cloud that makes beach towels from organic turkish cotton. The turkish cotton makes them sand resistant and dry 3x quicker than the average beach towel. The towels are thin and soft which make them easier to carry around and also absorb water well. 10% of the companies profits are donated to marine conservation. They offer lots of colors and designs, and 15% off your first purchase.
Plastic is one of the biggest polluters in the environment and a lot of it end up in the ocean. Fish and other marine animals ingest it and if they ingest too much it can be life threatening. By reducing your single use plastic waste, you can make a big difference. Final offers collapsable straws that you can throw into your bag or clip onto your keychain for those of you who love your iced coffee on the go. Etsy has a ton of great reusable to-go cutlery sets. You can now buy reusable silicone baggies almost anywhere now (Amazon, Earthsider, and Target to name a few). Earthsider has a collapsable coffee cup that folds into almost nothing - good for both hot and iced coffee. Mason jars are also a good swap for plastic when taking drinks to go. Most importantly if you haven't already, go get a stainless steel water bottle and stop with the plastic water bottles. There are water fountains almost everywhere now and most places shouldn't give you a hard time about filling it up for you. Everything I have listed above is relatively small and can easily fit into a purse, tote, backpack, or throw into your car.
If you can eliminate your plastic straw usage, why not eliminate your plastic razor usage? Leaf Shave offers a great quality razor with a pivoting head made for anyone and everyone. The blades are sharper and you get a better shave from them, and all you have to do is replace the blades once they become dull. While it does cost more upfront than a plastic razor, the blades are much cheaper and will last you longer and comes with a lifetime guarantee. So this is one of those investments that will not only save you money in the long run, but time in the short run.
If you already have a bathing suit, try to not buy a new one this year! It seems every summer, we all want a new one to show off on the gram. So, if you can't get creative and find a way to re-invent your old ones, I encourage you to buy one through a company that has ethical practices and uses sustainable materials. My blog post here lists off sustainable brands that you can buy from. Some of my favorite swimwear brands are Stay Wild Swim, Ohoy Swim, and Undersea Wear.
For accessories I encourage you to buy second hand- or get friends together and throw a swap party. Sunglasses, jewelry, bags, etc. For those of you who wear glasses or contacts - consider buying a pair of prescription sunnies. Warby Parker is a great company to buy from. For every pair of glasses bought, one is donated. Catorie Life offers simplistic jewelry made from recycled materials and Hamilton Perkins makes bags from used billboard signs.
I tend to find myself reading more during the warmer months of the year. Renting books from your local library is better than buying. Audiobooks and podcasts are also a great alternative to still keep your mind occupied. But if you're like me, I like to physically hold a book while reading. I've found the website called Better World Books which takes in used books and resells them at a low price. If they don't offer the book you're looking for as used, they will ship you a new one. Better World Books are a B Corporation and also donate books. Right now they are having an appreciation sale and offering 25% off site-wide.
This summer I am in desperate need of new sandals and sneakers. I'm talking there's holes in the bottom of my shoes desperate. If you have a pair of shoes that you love, you can take one to a cobbler to repair the sole. A lot of shoes that are sold secondhand are typically new or barely worn. Some of my go-to shoe brands to buy new from are Everlane, Veja, and Reformation. Indosole offers basic flip flops made from old tires.
I recently ordered a phone case from Pela, and I love it. Pela makes biodegradable phone cases, and donates 5% of sales (not profits) to different charities. They also make airpod cases, and those little card holders that stick onto the back of your phone case. Right now they are having a BOGO sale on all cases and free shipping.
This summer, try to buy your produce locally - going to the farmer's market can be fun! Bring friends and some reusable produce bags. You'll be supporting local farmer and buying produce without plastic packaging. If you don't have a farmers market near you, Imperfect Food delivery box is a great alternative to getting fresh produce without plastic packaging at a lower price. I also encourage you to eat less meat and other animal based products and more fruits and veggies. It's better for you and the environment. Cowspiracy is a great documentary that discusses this topic further.
I hope you find this information useful and inspire you to make some changes! There's no better time than now to make these simple but impactful changes. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or to continue this discussion.