With Earth Day approaching, it’s the best time to focus on creating a healthier environment and showing more respect to the earth. That’s wonderful, of course, but it’s also intimidating, so we’re focusing on small changes you can make today that build up to true lifestyle changes — and, ultimately, a big impact.
Eat & Drink Mindfully
It’s our job to protect the planet and leave
it in good shape for future generations. One easy way to do this is to reduce
food waste — especially since the USDA estimates that 30 –
40% of food supply in the U.S. goes to waste. “Before you go grocery shopping,
check what leftover ingredients you have lying in the fridge or in your
cupboards. Think of new, healthy recipes to take advantage of the food you
already have, helping the planet and saving money in the process,” says Caleb
Backe, a certified health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. Naturally, you
still have to buy some groceries even if you cut down. Luckily, the “milk man”
model is coming back into style with companies like Loop that refill empty food containers, reducing
But it’s not just about buying less. Before
you throw away your food scraps, see
if they can be regrown. Even if you don’t have a garden, herbs can be
planted in jars or pots. Your next best option is composting. Find your nearest
community collection point, freeze food scraps to minimize the smell, and put a
weekly drop-off reminder in your phone.
Just like food itself, keep an eye on your food-related
waste. Most of us are aware that buying bottled water is bad. But morning
coffee cups add up, too. Purchase a reusable travel
mug that collapses for easy storage. Another bonus? “Most cafes will give
you a discount for using your own,” says eco-conscious blogger Meera Jain of
If you prefer coffee at home, skip wasteful plastic pods and buy a reusable pod coffee filter. Alternatively, use a French press, pour-over, or moka pot for an artisanal, low-energy way to feed your coffee habit. You can also make cold brew in a French press, which doesn’t require the energy of heating water.
When dining out, say “Thank you, no thank you” to the waiter next time you order a drink. “Straws are made of plastic and are not recyclable,” Jain reminds us. If you’re not quite ready to give up your straw habit, purchase edible straws that make a nice snack once you’re done with your meal. (Seriously — they’re edible!)
Refresh Your Beauty & Wellness Routines
“A simple change you can make to maintain a
more sustainable beauty routine is to swap out your exfoliating scrubs that may
contain microbeads that are really harmful for the environment and sea
creatures,” says Amy Nicole, founder of Chic
Studios School of Makeup. Instead, shop brands (like yours truly) that are microbead-free, or create
an all-natural substitute using ingredients you may already own. “A simple
combination of raw sugar and coconut oil makes a great lip and body scrub that
you can use without worrying about putting harsh or harmful chemicals on your
skin,” says Nicole.
Unfortunately, not all
beauty products have an easy DIY alternative. For items like sunscreen, look
for ingredients that are safe for the environment. Chemical sunscreens can threaten corals and other marine
life, so opt for
mineral sunscreens like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (the active ingredients
found in our best-selling ORIGINAL Foundation).
Instead of tossing
your empty beauty products, recycle them! bareMinerals has a program for
Friends and Benefits members that allows you to bring your empty makeup
containers to a store location in exchange for points toward your next
When it comes to personal care items, use recycled materials as often as possible. Opt for 100% recycled toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. You can also choose eco-friendly feminine products, like organic cotton tampons or reusable menstrual cups.
When it comes to shopping for groceries (or
anything, really!), always bring your own bags — you can even purchase reusable
produce bags, and tuck them inside your shopping tote. To keep yourself from
accidentally forgetting your bags, invest in the ones made from recycled
materials that fold up and store easily in your purse.
As for food, furniture, appliances and more, “When you need something, make an effort to source it from a secondhand store,” says Jain. Resale sites are becoming more common for fashion, furniture and more. This will save you money in the long run too.
Greening your wardrobe can powerfully improve
your life in several ways. “It minimizes waste and production of throw-away
clothes. Also, buying clothes made from recycled materials, or with a
commitment to sustainability, helps grow the industry and combat climate
change,” says Annabel Hertz of Goodbuysugar.com. If you don’t luck out at a secondhand
store, choose ethical brands that source recycled materials and promote clean
practices. Unlike fast fashion realtors, brands like Alternative Apparel, Reformation and Outdoor Voices use sustainable
materials and minimize their energy and water footprints.
Rethink Your Home Goods
Greening your home can have a big (and easy)
impact. “See what you can do to save energy, from bulbs to heating settings and
unplugging electronics when not in use, to replacing your standard cleaning products
with green products, and recycling, composting and reducing junk mail — you
will be making a difference!” says Hertz. If you can, air dry your clothes and
use reusable cloths instead of paper towels.
Green your rides by replacing your drive with
public transport, biking, walking or shared car service. If you work for a big
company, suggest a Waze carpool,
where you and coworkers can ride together (besides, driving can be a drag!).
Modern travel can be highly polluting. “Choose sustainable tourism options and carbon offsets (for flights) and carry a water bottle with a filter (so you don’t have to buy and waste plastic water bottles),” says Hertz. Plus, go by the same rules you have at home: do you really need fresh towels daily? Better yet, instead of staying in a hotel, try booking an Airbnb or tiny house, where you can control exactly how much energy and water you use throughout your stay. Not to mention the endless Instagram photo ops…
Spread the Word!
Every time you decline a straw or pull out
your produce bags, explain your choice to any curious onlookers. “The more
people are making these small, easy changes, the more of an impact we can
have!” says Jain.