Summertime Sustainability Check-In

Whole Neighborhood Community Garden, BedStuy

Whole Neighborhood Community Garden, BedStuy

Summer time is officially here. When rooftop parties, cute sundresses, and cocktails take center stage, our carefree attitudes are here to run the show.

In a rushed lifestyle as a 20- something in a big city, it can feel impossible to keep practices that reduce waste on our minds. But lets make sure we’re still remembering to practice sustainable living to ensure the show will go on for generations to come.

Here’s a quick and easy guide (call it a midyear check in) for a few small changes that, if made collectively, can make a big difference.

Covet the Keep Cup

Ditch the Keurig

John Sylvan, a creator of Keurig, even advises against using the pod-based machines. Over 9 billion non-recyclable plastic pods floating around the earth isn’t a pretty picture. Especially when we consider that drip or french press coffee is easy to make, fresher, and more economical = better for the earth and our bodies.

Consider Thinx

Of course there is no shame in using your method of choice for the monthly cycle. But just give thought to the new kid on the feminine car block: Thinx, the period underwear. They've absolutely changed the game. Zero waste because there is no flushing tampons or wrapping up pads to be disposed of, only a regular laundry cycle. Not only are you minimizing waste, you're also joining the modern female in a revolution by rethinking how we encounter this time of the month. 

Contemplate consignment

When we shop at places like Forever21, we are promoting a cycle of textile waste. These clothes aren’t built to last. Their cheap prices promote short-term behaviors, bringing you back to the store only a couple months after the last purchase. It’s not just about money, it’s also about injustice: the cycle of terrible conditions for factory workers and poor environmental practices. One small step we can take is to buy and sell our clothes on consignment. If you dedicate even a portion of your wardrobe budget to second hand clothes, you’re making a big difference. It may be the only time that $5 jeans are acceptable. Or form a swap group with your friends — we love cleaning out our friends closets to help them declutter and create a new bank of goodies for the rest of us.

Don’t ditch — transform with rust dyeing

Rust-Dying WorkShop, Mysteryland USA

Rust-Dying WorkShop, Mysteryland USA

Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle… Transform. I recently stained my cute cream colored dress. I tried washing, bleach, Oxyclean, etc — looks like it is time for me to throw it out. Pause. Maybe there’s another solution. Millennials aren’t known for our clothes maintenance or mending skills, but that doesn’t mean we can’t evolve.

One great route to transforming stained clothes is to dye them with natural dyes. A really simple method requires supplies you probably already have in your kitchen: vinegar, water, steel wool, and black tea. For a burnt orange effect stick with the vinegar, water, steel wool. For a dark grey color combine tea, steel wool, vinegar and water and soak the item in the bath (crockpots work best). We love DogwoodDyer as inspiration for new techniques.

Let farmers markets be your friend

(okay this one isn’t always so quick and easy… but it makes a big difference!)

Easton,PA Public Market

Easton,PA Public Market

Food. Food is the ultimate way to practice sustainable living. When we buy the cheapest produce and most processed options, we are not playing an active role as sustainable consumers. Money has this fickle role in the economy at the moment, where the true value of a product is not calculated into the cost of an item — meaning that although the “conventionally” grown strawberries are two dollars cheaper, they also leave a much bigger impact on the earth that will have to be cleaned up at some point, and an impact on our bodies that may lead to larger healthcare costs in the future. As consumers, switching to more conscious purchasing of organic, local vegetables: especially supporting our farmers at farmers markets, makes a big difference. We are empowering a future economy of real, healthy food.

Let’s face it — none of us are going to be the next “Trash is for Tossers” girl. More power to ya, but when hunger hits and there’s only a kind bar in sight, it’s mine, wrapper and all. We’re not saying we go to extremes. But what we can do is acknowledge our need to make changes and start wherever we can.

By making conscious decisions we create a larger community of sustainable consumers. These easy tips are examples of how we can collectively create a culture that cares for our resources responsibly and works to preserve the beauty of our planet.

from Louisa and Ashley