So Earth Day 2017 is happening this Saturday. And as much as we love it, we shouldn’t just think about the planet’s health for a single day but rather try to reduce our harm every day. From the obvious to the inventive ones, from large lifestyle changes to small steps that anybody can take, we came up with 50 things you can do for a cleaner, greener planet.
Here’s part 2, covering Fashion & Beauty and also Transportation & Travel.
Fashion choices for a greener planet
22 | Invest in quality items
We know the temptations all too well, but it always makes sense to think about your purchase a little bit. Look at the quality of the fabrics and the sewing and ask yourself if it will survive more than a few laundry circles? Do you actually want it or are you just tempted because it’s on sale?
23 | Mend your clothes and shoes
A bit of an old-fashioned thing that people used to do all the time. Just because something has a small rip or the soles of your shoes are worn down, doesn’t mean you have to throw the item out. Get your items fixed and keep enjoying them
24 | Buy second hand
Another way to escape the fast fashion industry is to buy clothes second hand. There are lots and lots of options in Canada. Think small local consignment boutiques or big thrift stores like Value Village or Talize. You’d be surprised what you can find there!
25 | Swap clothes with friends
Got a bunch of friends with similar clothing sizes? Swap your clothes and have some fun. You can also find some organized clothes swaps in some cities.
26 | Recycle your clothes
So you’re done with your t-shirt, pants or sweater? Check their condition. If they still look ok, consider donating them to a thrift store. If they have holes or are worn out, consider recycling them. Both Zara and H&M offer a program and they will accept any clothes, not just their own brand. That way you can keep your clothes from ending up in landfills.
27 | Buy fair trade clothes
Many of us don’t realize that the cotton that is used in our clothes is mostly grown by cotton farmers that live well below the poverty line.
Just as with cocoa, coffee, tea, and bananas, Fair Trade cotton can make a real difference in the lives of the farmers.
As with all Fair Trade products, GMOs are a no-go and the majority of Fair Trade cotton is also organic.
28 | Buy organic cotton
Just like our produce, cotton can be full of pesticides. And since your clothing is in direct contact with your skin all day we would definitely want to avoid that. More and more mainstream brands are starting to use organic cotton such as H&M, Zara or The Gap.
29 | Buy clothes made from recycled materials
Another thing you’ll see more and more at mainstream retailers, especially as they establish their own recycling programs. Buying clothes made from recycled fibers means fewer resources are wasted to make your clothes. Check out Patagonia’s RE\\\COLLECTION line for inspiration.
30 | Avoid synthetic fabrics
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon are derived from petrochemicals. They come from a non-renewable resource (oil), generate hazardous waste during production and don’t biodegrade. This means the clothes you throw out will fill up our landfills and basically stay the way they are for a very long time.
31 | Good On You app
Want to know how your favorite retailer is doing? Check the Good On You app and you will learn about how they treat their workers, the environment, and animals. The app is well researched and you can find most Canadian mainstream retailers & brands. They also let you search by category (e.g. purses) and then show you the best brands.
Beauty products that are better for the environment
32 | Avoid chemicals
If you check the ingredients of regular beauty products you will probably wonder what’s actually in them. A lot of the stuff we use in Canada comes from the US and they actually don’t have any regulations about what can go into personal care products. A few ingredients are regulated by the FDA but the majority is unregulated.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that only 11% of the 10,500 chemicals used in personal care products have been properly tested.
And not only can they be potentially toxic for your skin, think of soaps, shampoos and more going down the drain and getting into our water. Get ahead of the game and look for natural beauty products instead.
33 | Buy cruelty-free products
There’s so much unnecessary animal testing going on in the beauty industry in the US and Canada, it’s almost unbelievable. While many countries around the world have banned animal testing, it’s still not an issue here. Look for certified cruelty-free products and do your part. All beauty products sold at FAIR/SQUARE are 100% plant-based and cruelty-free.
34 | Buy plant-based beauty products
A great way to avoid both chemicals and animal cruelty is to look for natural plant-based products. By going plant-based only, you’ll be able to avoid common ingredients such as lanolin, collagen, and retinol that are all derived from animal tissue or worse. Check out our blog post about our top 10 green beauty brands.
35 | Use natural sunscreen
If you’re looking to avoid chemicals, one of the first things to start with is sunscreen. That is unless you go in the water of course. Regular sunscreen washes off in the oceans, rivers, and lakes and can damage wildlife and habitat. This is especially a no-go when you go snorkeling at a reef! Look for natural sunscreens with zinc instead.
36 | Use the Bunny Free app
Get PETA’s Bunny Free app to find out if the products you are using were tested on animals and find cruelty-free alternatives instead. You can search, scan or browse to get the info you need.
37 | Use the Cruelty-free app
The official app of the Leaping Bunny program is similar to PETA’s app. What’s very helpful though is that they also tell you if the company itself is cruelty-free but the parent company isn’t. This is the case with The Body Shop for example. Even though they have never tested on animals, they have been bought by L’Oreal which is still doing animal testing.
Transportation & travel choices to reduce your carbon foot print
38 | Walk
Yes, it’s not always convenient. Yes, it’s not fun when it’s raining. But give it a go on a dry or even sunny day and you will be amazed that the store that you always go to by car is actually just a 10-minute walk. Try it, you’ll be surprised,
39 | Buy a bike
Another great way to get around on a warmer day! Many Canadian communities have dedicated bike paths that make biking faster and safer. Plus, you also get free exercise while you’re at it.
40 | Rent/share a bike
Don’t own a bike? Check out Bike Share Toronto and other option available in large cities.
41 | Take public transport
Even though this is a huge area of improvement for Canada, options do exist and are obviously better in larger cities. Depending on where you’re going, it could even be faster and cheaper to take public transport. Cool huh?
42 | Carpool
Consider carpooling if you can’t conveniently reach your location with public transport. Fun bonus: you get to use those fancy carpool lanes on Canadian highways like the QEW.
43 | Car2Go
You’re in luck if you live in Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto because you’ll have access to Car2Go. It’s super easy and convenient: you check the map to find an available car, go where you need to go and just leave the car right there. Unlike other car sharing services, you only pay for how long you’re actually using the car. What you don’t pay for: monthly fees, parking, fuel or maintenance.
44 | Drive better
It might sound a bit lame, but by driving more fuel-efficiently you save gas (aka money) and emissions. How do you do it? Accelerate gently, maintain a steady speed, anticipate traffic, avoid high speeds and coast to decelerate.
45 | Buy carbon offsets
Absolutely have to take the car but feel a bit guilty about all those emissions you have created? Consider buying carbon offsets. Check out Carbonfund.org to buy offsets for the vehicle you drive or the flights you’ve taken. Offsets seem to abstract? Plant trees with them and help them put a million trees in the ground.
46 | Use the Changers CO2 Fit app to track your progress
As you walk, cycle or use public transport, the app measures the distance you have traveled and calculates the amount of CO2 saved. Use it to motivate yourself or run a challenge with a friend!
47 | Give 1% to the planet
If you feel like you want to do even more, consider joining 1% for the Planet as an individual member. It means that you commit 1% of your annual salary to environmental non-profits. You donate directly to any of their 2,000 registered partners, so you have full control over what your money is used for.
Thinking about buying a new car?
48 | Buy an electric car
The best thing to do would be to buy an electric car. But not everybody can afford a Tesla, we understand. So go on to option number two.
49 | Buy a hybrid car
Buying a hybrid car will not only help you to cut down the amount of money you have to spend on gas and your dependency on fossil fuels but also decrease the CO2 emissions your rides cause.
50 | Buy a car with lower fuel consumption
If you can’t afford an electric or a hybrid car, try to look for one with better fuel-efficiency.
Canadian’s sure love their trucks and SUVs, but really, you don’t need a car that size if all you do is drive back and forth to the office every day.
Did we forget anything? Have some extra info for our readers? Let is know in the comments!
Resources: Green Greener Greenest by Lori Bongiorno & The Greenpeace Living Guide