I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I’ve got a list rattling around my brain with a common green theme. Before I tell you what my specific resolutions are, I want to share why I’m going in a direction of sustainability so intentionally this year…
I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t always been interested in sustainability or the environment. In fact, as a high school student I went out of my way to not be identified with anything too “green.” I had this misconception that environmental advocates must always care more for the planet than for people. I thought there was some sort of gap between social justice and environmental care and that I could only care about one of those two issues.
Oh was I wrong.
Last year, I dove into the world of ethical fashion because I couldn’t stand to participate in a system of fast fashion that exploits vulnerable people around the world. As I’ve researched and worked on bettering the way we buy clothes, I’ve been exposed to the environmental issues that accompany fast fashion. I’ve come to realize that environmental issues go hand-in-hand with social justice issues.
It’s so easy to ignore the environmental impact of our daily decisions here in America. Our garbage gets carted off on a weekly basis, the chemical runoff from our dyed clothes pools in toxic puddles far away, and we don’t have to deal with the immediate effects of any of it.
But someone else does.
It’s the most impoverished areas of the world that are first to experience the dark side of our unsustainable practices. It’s real people who are contracting unnecessary diseases and breathing heavily polluted air as they live life in the shadow of our piles of discarded clothes, electronics and containers.
It has become an issue of social justice. It is affecting human beings in addition to their environment. For me, that’s a compelling reason to reevaluate my lifestyle.
I’ve already taken some steps towards sustainability in my life. The clothes I purchase are not only ethically made, but also sustainably made without the use of toxic “ingredients.” I gave up dying my hair (also a huge money saver), and I’ve found an amazing all natural skincare line that is produced in small batches (read my interview with the founder here). I’m ready to take it one step further though.
Here are my resolutions for 2017:
1.Replace my shampoo and conditioner with bar alternatives
Have you guys seen the shampoo and conditioner bars that are popping up these days? I think they’re so cute. Buying the bars will eliminate the reoccurring waste of plastic bottles in my shower. Plus, they’re usually all natural and made by small businesses, which I love to support!
2.Clean up my makeup routine
I’ve found a natural mascara that I love (it’s by Pacifica), but I want to switch over all of my cosmetics to natural brands. Not only is it better for the planet, it’s also better for my skin!
3.Use green cleaning products
It seems like common sense that our cleaning products wouldn’t be full of dirty chemicals, but unfortunately most of mine are. I want to find some green alternatives that are safe for my home. Additionally, I want to buy them in bulk and cut down on plastic waste.
4.No more grocery bags
I’m about 50/50 on this goal already. We have a whole bin of reusable bags in our closet, but half the time I forget to grab them when I’m headed to the grocery store. No more excuses this year, I want to be much more conscientious of using reusable bags consistently.
5.Cut back on packaged foods
Switching to a plant-based diet has helped me naturally cut back on a lot of packaged foods, but there are still some that I need to make the effort to swap out. For example, I can choose to buy nuts, grains and tea in bulk instead of individually packed.
These changes may sound small, but I really believe any little positive effort we incorporate into our lifestyle will make a difference. Becoming more “green” has in no way shifted my attention off caring for people. If anything, it’s helped me think less selfishly about what I consume.
So cheers to a loving and green 2017.
Editor's note: Ellie is an eco babe writing over at Selflessly Styled. She regularly features other sustainable (life)style advocates, shares ethical brands and products to support, and more!