Before I get into the eco-friendly swaps, I want to reiterate something vital: Use what you have first. If you want to make the switch to say, a more sustainable toothpaste and you've done the research and you're on board, that's so great! Use up that toothpaste you have in your cupboard before you switch. And I don't mean brush your teeth twenty times a day with grape-sized dollops of toothpaste until you've depleted your current resource.
Tossing out what you already have, even if you're replacing it with the MOST SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT EVER INVENTED, is the exact opposite of living sustainably.
How to go about switching:
1. Evaluate what you currently have and use one room at a time. Go smaller if you need to--one drawer at a time. If you try to evaluate and switch your whole house at once it's not going to go well. Spend a week noticing where there is waste. Spend a week noticing what's almost gone and what's almost worn out.
2. After you've listened and watched, decide what a few of the areas are that you could make a more sustainable switch.
3. Once you've picked a few items to switch, do some research on what the sustainable swaps are that are available to you. Can you make the swap? If not, dig in to find out if the company you're looking at is greenwashing (using the terms sustainable, green, eco-friendly, recyclable, etc. all loosey-goosey with no real action behind the words). My favorite thing to do during this time is to slow it down and interact with some companies I'm considering. I follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletters to hear the way they talk about what they do over a longer period of time. I've been swayed both toward and against companies by giving them chances to speak to me like this. Plus, they usually send out a discount code which I am always about.
At this time, I'd also like to give this disclaimer: Sustainability doesn't have to be expensive and it doesn't have to lead to more purchases. There are so many options available to you and just because something promises to be the "last x you'll ever buy" doesn't mean you actually need it in your life.
Making a sustainable choice COULD look like getting a Miir mug. Making a sustainable choice COULD look like buying from your local shops instead of driving 30+ minutes to the big stores. Making a sustainable choice COULD look like making your own cloth napkins. Making a sustainable choice COULD look like putting aside utensils you already own to use on the go.
4. Use what you have until it's done.
5. Make the switch and continually check in to see if your swap makes sense.
6. Gradually, move to the next swap and repeat the process.
Alright class, let's do an example:
You're evaluating your bedroom and notice you're in need of new jeans because your current ones don't fit anymore or are more holes than not. You've got some options: buy new from a brand that makes sustainable clothes (Madewell, Nisolo Shoes, Tradlands, to name a few real quick thanks to my pal Chloe Alysse), trade jeans with a friend (clothing exchanges are a great excuse for a party and it's like going thrifting but through your friends' closets), or go thrifting for a new-to-you pair at a fraction of the cost. Since we're all online right now, check out this online thrift store. If your jeans are really truly done and can't be thrifted or traded, explore some creative ways to use the denim rather than throwing it away. Suggestions include: cornhole bags, shorts, denim scraps to fix other jeans, weave a jean rug, coffee koozie, over the shoulder bag, garage rag. The internet has endless blogs, vlogs, and tutorials on making LITERALLY ANYTHING. I mean, what a time to be alive.