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16 Practical Ways To Have A Positive Impact On The Environment Today

By Anna Hartman··  8 min read
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It’s Earth Day – tree huggers unite! Just kidding. You don’t have to have a yoga certification, slap a cheesy frame over top of your Facebook photo, or wear clothes made from homegrown hemp in order to have a positive impact on the environment in 2022.

While I wouldn’t consider myself a “tree hugger” in any sense, I do participate in certain activities that contribute to a less wasteful and more intentional existence in my everyday life. And here’s the thing – it’s actually not that hard (you may even do these things already without realizing it). 

More important than one of us overhauling our entire lifestyle to “serve the greater good,” we can all take tiny, practical steps in the right direction. Simply put, some things add value to our lives that aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly, but they bring us joy nonetheless. Take my love for Amazon fashion as an example; while I thoroughly enjoy buying and selling clothes via Poshmark, I also can’t help but hit “add to cart” on those cute $25 leggings that will arrive…tomorrow. Can you blame me? 

Rather than shaming each other about what we’re not doing perfectly, let’s join forces and celebrate the ways we can share the load and contribute to a more sustainable world together.

This Earth Day take a moment to pause and appreciate the breathtakingly beautiful landscape around you. Take a walk outside and soak in the sight of deep blue water, the sound of birds singing overhead, and the smell of freshly blooming spring flowers. And then enjoy your overpriced latte from a paper cup anyway. A girl’s gotta live, right?

All joking aside, if you’re searching for more practical ways to have a positive impact on the environment, today’s post is for you. I’m breaking down 16 easy, actionable steps you can take to help preserve our magnificent Earth, from repurposing everyday items to swapping in more sustainable products. Let’s get started. 

1. Utilize Your Local Consignment Shop

Consign your clothes while making a little extra cash, or better yet, use the store credit to purchase new (to you) items from the same shop. You’re supporting a local business, recycling your old belongings, and filling your wardrobe with stylish, environmentally friendly items! It’s a win-win-win. 

Alternatively, if you don’t have a good option for a consignment shop nearby, use the Poshmark or ThredUP app to sell and buy clothes, accessories, and shoes. 

2. Ditch One-Time Use Makeup Wipes

Not only do makeup wipes supposedly add to the premature aging of your face because they drag and pull it down in the process of cleaning, but they’re also terrible for the environment. Instead, save your money, your stunning skin, and the landfill by swapping single-use makeup wipes out for makeup erasers or reusable rounds. 

I purchased a pack of 14 reusable rounds in 2019 for less than $13, and I have been using them since. All you have to do to clean the pads is throw them into the mesh laundry bag they come with and wash them with your normal load of laundry. Easy peasy. 

3. Try Out Reusable K-Cup Pods 

Elevate your mornings with a greener coffee routine. While K-cups are certainly efficient, according to recent studies, they “are not biodegradable or recyclable and can take up to 500 years to decompose,” making them an unfortunate result of a modern invention. Thankfully, there is a solution to this, and it’s K-cup pods (costing less than $9) which you simply fill with coffee grinds and reuse each time. Once again, a solution that’s both better for the environment and your wallet. 

4. Buy Beauty Refills Instead of New Products

Popular beauty companies like Glow Recipe, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and even Charlotte Tilbury now offer refills for their most popular items so you can simply replace the insert rather than buying an entirely new product. Are we seeing a pattern here? (Hint: this is a cheaper alternative too!)

5. Use a Refillable Water Bottle

Bonus: reusable water bottles can be super chic. Opt for a classic white with a time marker for extra motivation to stay hydrated throughout your day while reducing plastic waste. 

6. Volunteer To Clean Up a Beach or Park in Your Community

We love a girl who takes any excuse to get out of the house and get her body moving. Volunteering on a Saturday afternoon to tidy up your local beach or park will make you feel good about helping out the community you live in while breathing in the fresh air and appreciating the beauty around you. 

See all those single-use medical masks littered in the grass and accumulating in the water? Yeah, grab those too. 

7. Repair Don’t Replace

This tip can apply to everything from clothes and jewelry to electronics and home decor. Take up a hobby in sewing if your clothes need some hemming or if a button popped off instead of tossing them out altogether. As for electronics and home decor, you may need to be a bit handier than me, but repairing everyday items is definitely doable and will save you money in the long run as well as keeping them from filling the landfills. 

8. Make DIY Cleaning Products

Take a quick peek on Pinterest, and you’ll find countless tutorials for how to create your own cleaning products with simple and natural ingredients. You may even have them lying around your house already!

9. Compost Food Waste

I’ll be honest – this one feels a little more daunting to me than the rest, but many people I know swear by this little hack, so I think it’s worth sharing with you. According to the experts, “Composting kitchen waste can be as simple as burying the food scraps in the dirt or using a 3-stage composting bin or tumbler. The end results are nutrient-rich soil additives that increase porosity and help hold important moisture in the soil.”

10. Buy a Reusable Bag

Okay, maybe you’re not going to lug 10 reusable bags to the grocery store every time you make your weekly run. However, if you’re heading to the Farmer’s Market on the weekends or just popping into the store to pick up a single item, there’s no need to waste a plastic bag that’s going to be thrown away the second you get home anyway. 

Reusable bags can be a cute and practical addition to your weekend #OOTD that make you feel a bit better about reducing plastic waste. 

11. Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market

Aside from visiting the Farmer’s Market being a fantastic way to spend your Sunday, you’ll also be supporting local businesses and the Earth by buying your produce locally. According to experts, “food in the grocery stores travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to you, and all that shipping can cause pollution plus an increase of fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions. When you buy locally, it’s transported in shorter distances.”

12. Walk or Bike Instead of Driving

Not a whole lot makes me happier than a long walk outside on a beautiful day. Schedule in a little extra time and take a leisurely walk or bike ride to your destination instead of driving if you’re close by.

13. Support a State or National Park

Purchase a daily, monthly, or yearly pass to support the conservation of clean parks and to maintain an undisturbed space for wildlife. This is another tip to get you out of the house soaking in all that nature has to offer while becoming increasingly green. 

14. Start a Garden

I know everyone says “plant a tree” because they clean the air and provide oxygen to the planet, but if that’s not realistic for you, planting a garden can be just as useful – and arguably more fun. Plant your own fruits and vegetables in the ground or in an elevated garden (if you live in the city) which will help you live a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle. 

15. Unsubscribe to Unwanted Catalogs and Paper Bills

The idea that over 100 million trees are destroyed each year in order to produce unwelcome catalogs that we have to drag into our houses only to toss directly into the garbage bin is disturbing. I can see how these catalogs were useful many years ago before online shopping, but they seem to be totally pointless these days – at least to the younger generation. 

If you sign up for Catalog Choice, a non-profit organization with the goal to protect natural resources and help people simplify their lives, they’ll help get your name off mailing lists for unwanted pieces of mail for free. 

16. Repurpose Containers for Storage and Organization

You know all those plastic takeout containers you get from DoorDash or UberEats? They can easily double as leftover food storage containers instead of buying new Tupperware. Repurpose your glass candle jars, juice bottles, and more as free organizers or creative home decor. There are tons of DIY projects and ideas for upcycling glass containers online that may just spark joy in a new and unexpected way. 

Closing Thoughts

Everyone’s lives are vastly different from one another, so it makes sense that we don’t all show our appreciation for the Earth in the same way. Whether you choose to implement one new tactic or you’ve already got all 16 down pat, kudos to you! These seemingly small choices add up over time to create a larger impact on keeping our Earth beautiful and well-loved for generations to come.  

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