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Easy Ways To Make Sustainable Living Work For You

With Earth Day right around the corner, it's the perfect time to think about your consumption habits. It's more important now than ever to conserve to the best of our abilities.

We all know the enviroment (and our impact) is a hot topic right now—literally, it's hot af. We're all also pretty aware that we should be taking a hard look at our daily routines and habits to decrease our negative impact on our planet in anyway we can, but it can feel overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, there are easy ways to cut your carbon footprint without feeling totally out of our element. We spoke with Rita Katona founder of So Good So You, Margaret Bounds, Connecticut College's Assistant Director of Sustainability, Lily Kaiserman, owner of Wild Minimalist and Scarlett De Bease, personal stylist and founder of Always Know What to Wear for advice as well as their tips and tricks to living greener.

Eat Sustainably
Katona stressed the importance of eating sustainably saying, "Studies have shown that eating mostly plant-based diet is the single most impactful decision anyone can make to be more environmentally friendly. We've all heard the statistics on how much water it takes to 'grow' a pound of meat versus a pound of produce, and that's just the beginning." Frequenting local farmer's markets and stores that stock local produce also helps save on the impact that shipping mass-produced food has.

Bring Reusable Containers
"Planning ahead is big. Making a grocery list before you shop so you know how many reusable bags and containers to bring," says Kaiserman. In regard to other aspects Katona says, "Obviously take your reusable bags to the grocery store, but if you want to take it to the next level, shop at co-op and stores that have a 'bulk' section, and try to bring your own reusable containers."

Shop Package-Free
"One of the biggest changes you can make is to shop package-free, especially when you go grocery shopping. Many stores will let you use your own reusable cloth bags to buy grains, nuts, and flour in bulk" Kaiserman says.

Decrease Your Food Waste
"If you're totally down to being a green-lovin' tree-hugger you can even bring your own food containers when picking up take-out or dining out if you know you'll have leftovers," Katona says. At home you can decrease other food waste simply by planning accordingly. Don't cook more food than you know you can eat in a reasonable amount of time, and put your leftovers to use. It will help save the planet and your money.

Swap Your Bulbs
"You can also swap out your incandescent light bulbs or CFLs for LEDs. LEDs are becoming very affordable, and they last about 5x longer than other light bulbs available. They'll save you more on your energy bills and you won't have to replace them as often," says Bounds.

Stop Driving So Much
"Try walking or biking to nearby locations instead of driving. Cars not only emit greenhouse gases, but they also impact your local air quality. By biking or walking, you are lowering your environmental impact and you're making the healthy choice for yourself as well," says Bounds. If you live within walking or biking distance of places you usually frequent, swapping your car for your tennis shoes is a perfectly reasonable way to cut down on pollution and gas use.

Shop for Quality
"Only buy clothes that are good enough to pass on versus tossing out once you are done with them. Shop to have quality over quantity. Donate clothes, shoes and especially coats if you're not wearing them," says De Bease. Products made sustainably usually cost more than clothes and accessories with a negative impact on the environment. If you can't afford to always buy well-made products brand new, buying second-hand bags, clothes, and other items is another way to do your part.

Get Involved
"You can get involved with your local environmental organization. Most areas have a chapter of Keep America Beautiful, which runs community clean-ups and recycling initiatives." says Bounds.

Do you have any tips for living more sustainably? Share them in the comments!

Alisha Humiston

Alisha is a student at Iowa State University. When she isn't in class or writing for More you can find her watching New Girl, planning her next adventure, or eating way too much cheese. One day she hopes to get her own joke printed on a Laffy Taffy wrapper.

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