By Aleta Daniel, Executive Director of Keep Prince William Beautiful
The trend towards a sustainable lifestyle is a hot topic right now. Businesses are shifting towards more sustainable messages, suggesting that the world relies on products and consumer goods that use our planet’s renewable resources (e.g. wind, solar and hydropower) more healthily than our non-renewable resources (e.g. coal , Oil and natural gas).
The thing about a sustainable lifestyle is that you can always do more to be a little more sustainable. Whether you are already adopting a sustainable lifestyle and pursuing it with enthusiasm or are just looking over the edge and ready or about to take the first step towards habits that minimize your own ecological footprint, there are easy swap options for your current one Lifestyle.
The clothes you buy can have a huge impact on your environmental footprint. Just a few decades ago, our society switched from more natural fibers such as wool, cotton and linen to artificial (plastic-based) fibers such as nylon and polyester. Initially a hailed new invention, we now know that clothing made from plastic-based fibers is a major concern, from harmful chemicals in production to the peeling of microfibers and microplastics when worn or washed, all of which cause myriad problems for our environment. Here are three things you can do to improve your relationship with the clothing industry.
- Whenever possible, buy clothes made from 100% cotton (organic cotton is an even better choice) or other natural fibers such as wool or linen.
- Take advantage of the nice weather and hang up your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. Dryers not only use a lot of electricity, they also blow microfiber out of the dryer opening. These microfibers can be harmful to wildlife and human health if they end up in our drinking water or ingested as food by aquatic organisms.
- Consider buying a Cora ball (coraball.com). These can be thrown in the washing machine with your clothes and collect microfibres that are peeled off your clothes during the washing process and prevent them from polluting our environment.
According to Forbes research, food production accounts for about a third (34%) of the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions, with livestock making up about half of that. Our choices about the food we buy and consume can have a huge impact on the impact our global food production has on the environment. Here are some examples of small changes you can make to your grocery shopping and cooking habits that can have far-reaching effects on the environmental impact of agribusiness.
- Focus more on vegetables, legumes, fruits, and grains to fill your plate rather than making meat the main ingredient. Beef production is particularly notable for its environmental impact, consuming more water and land, and causing more environmental damage than any other food product. Did you know that if every American had one meatless meal a week, research shows that it would save about 100 billion gallons of water a year?
- Buy as many organic products as you can. Organic farming uses fewer pesticides and herbicides, which helps protect our water supplies and our pollinators.
- Take advantage of your seasonal farmers market. Buying locally grown food reduces your agricultural footprint and helps keep local land in agricultural production as small farms and homesteads. Having a relationship with the people who grow and grow our food can profoundly affect our relationship with the land around us and the food that nourishes us.
By being more aware of your shopping habits, you can ensure that the items you buy make more sense to you, are of higher quality, and are made by companies that are committed to making a good impact on our planet.
- Create a designated place by the front door to hang your reusable shopping bags. Having them in a flashy place is a reminder to grab them when you walk out the door.
- Look for the B Corp certification. This means the company has gone through a rigorous certification process that takes into account the company’s impact on its employees, customers, suppliers, the community and the environment.
- Sites like Good On You (goodonyou.eco) can help you figure out how your favorite companies rank in categories like pollution, waste, and human rights.
These are just a few examples of what you can do to contribute to the eco-movement that is taking over the globe. Other small steps include keeping a reusable travel mug in the car for the midday pick-me-ups, refusing to use plastic straws, bringing and using refillable water bottles instead of buying single-use plastic bottles, and recycling any items you can instead of throwing them away in the trash. For recycling tips for Prince William County, see pwcva.gov/department/solid-waste-management/recycling-prince-william.
To contact Keep Prince William Beautiful, go to kpwb.org or call 571-285-3772. They would love to hear from you! You can also follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/keepprincewilliambeautiful and Instagram at @kpwborg.