5 Ways to Green Up Your Life

“Solid waste generation rates are rising fast, on pace to exceed 11 million tons per day by 2100.”The World Bank

That’s like throwing away 22 million grand pianos every single day. Let that sink in.

You know that you want to help make a positive environmental impact on the planet. Maybe you’re already mindful of recycling and producing less trash. You’ve cut down on eating out, started composting, and even begun to carpool. How can you make your life even greener?

As fierce supporters of adopting a paperless life, we’re here to help you reduce your carbon footprint even further. Here are five areas you can start tackling.

1. Start with the basics

With a flood of “eco” branded products out there (some of which are misleading), recycling rules that are different in every city, and the guilt you may feel about “doing it wrong,” getting started can be overwhelming. But that’s okay. You don’t have to try to change everything overnight. You’ve got to build habits little by little.

Reducing your single-use plastic is the easiest way to get started. Here are some common things you can replace:

  • Cups and bottles — pick up a stainless steel water bottle, and start using a portable tumbler for your morning coffee.
  • Drinking straws — You can find these in stainless steel too. Sip, sip, hooray!
  • Grocery bags — Cloth bags are reusable, can usually hold more, and won’t rip when you’re halfway home.

Pro Tip: Track how well you’re sticking to your new green habits with Evernote’s monthly planner templates. Start small by making your first month all about reducing plastic water bottle waste and have the next month’s focus be switching to reusable hot beverage containers.

2. Go paperless

Documents, receipts, junk mail, bills. We’re surrounded by it, but paper doesn’t have to be a burden. Here are a few ways you can help save our forests:

  • Opt-out of junk mail lists once and for all. Check out this how-to from Eco-Cycle.
  • Say no to paper receipts when shopping and ask for them to be emailed to you instead.
  • Sign-up for e-statements and pay your bills online.
  • Start asking if you can sign documents electronically. How-to Geek recommends how.

Pro Tip: Shameless plug! Use an app to take notes and to manage your paper. ? Here are 38 things you can save digitally in Evernote.

3. Rethink how and what you eat

Do you ever buy groceries, only to have a third of it go bad by the end of the week? You’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent study, as much as 40 percent of food goes uneaten in the U.S. And wasting food is just the tip of the iceberg—much of the food we eat also travels for at least 1,500 miles from a farm to our table, causing large quantities of pollution. It may be hard to believe, but some research shows that raising beef is so resource intensive that eating it regularly is actually worse for the planet than driving a car.

With careful planning, we can reduce food waste and eat more consciously.

  • Plan your meals ahead of time to minimize throwing away groceries that have gone bad.
  • Shop at a local farmers market or stick to the local produce section of grocery stores.
  • Add more plant-based meals to your diet.
  • Eat ugly produce. You read that right. Tons of perfectly good produce goes to waste just because it doesn’t look “perfect.”

Pro Tip: Use Evernote’s checklist feature to make a shopping list (and stick to it) so you don’t buy more food than you need.

4. Think before you shop

According to The True Cost, the world consumes 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year, thanks to the fast fashion industry. That’s a whopping 400 percent more than we consumed just two decades ago. When it comes to making a change, here’s a fun mantra to keep in mind: refuse, reuse, repair. In other words:

  • Buy fewer fashion items—do you really need that new blouse?
  • Participate in the circular economy and use second-hand items when possible.
  • Take damaged clothes to the tailor for repair instead of throwing them away.
  • When you do buy new clothes and accessories, look for quality, durability, and sustainable materials.

Pro Tip: Evernote can help you be more thoughtful about your fashion choices. Some people find that simply adding items to a list can cut down on impulse buying.

5. Simplify your skincare

Titanium dioxide. Paraben. Triclosan. Microbeads.

Yeah, we don’t know what any of that means either. But these ingredients and more are lurking in many of your beauty products and are known to make their way into the ocean and harm marine wildlife. If you want to take your sustainability journey to the next level, then it’s time to take a harder look at all the lotions and potions you use. Guys, we’re talking to you too! Here are some steps you can take to simplify your body care routine and avoid plastic waste:

  • Skip the body wash and go with a moisturizing fragrance-free bar soap.
  • Go vintage with a reusable safety razor, and recycle the steel blades.
  • Switch to organic cotton swabs that have a wood applicator.
  • Try using shampoo and conditioner in solid bars instead of from a plastic pump bottle.

Pro Tip: Keep a note with a list of environmentally conscious brands in Evernote so you can quickly share it with others.

At the end of the day, no one is perfect and we can’t beat ourselves up about not living fully sustainable lives. But remember, we only have one living planet and it’s up to each of us to protect it. Every step in a greener direction makes a world of a difference.

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