Welcome to 30 Days, 30 Ways to Green, where we're sharing all the little (and not so little!) things we do to live eco-friendlier every day. Stick with us all month long for a lineup of handy tips—from composting do's and don'ts to which reusable products really light up our lives.
When we set out to create 30 days' worth of tips, stories, and guides for how we’re all trying to live eco-friendlier every day, there was one topic our whole team couldn't stop Slacking about: $0 ways to go green.
As in, all the small but mighty ways we incorporate sustainable practices into our lives, without spending a single cent. Like ditching plastic bags at the grocery store, or using every last citrus peel. Some of us time our showers; others reuse jars as lunch containers each day.
From the kitchen to the farmers' market, here are the highly doable, no-cost ways we're living eco-friendlier today. (And we're dying to know: What top tips do you swear by?)
- Carry reusable totes in your backpack or purse, for transporting groceries (or anything else you need to ferry around!).
- Think before you bag grocery store produce in plastic—items like onions, shallots, bananas, and garlic don’t need the extra layer.
- Bring lunch as much as you can—not only does it give you an excuse to repurpose scraps and leftovers, but it'll let you skip all the packaging that comes with buying lunch. ("The delivery bags, plastic utensils, and endless containers make me cringe," says Associate Buyer, Aja Aktay.)
- Don't leave the house without a reusable water bottle, to fill up wherever you are.
- "Whenever I get a package with bubble wrap, I fold it up and save it for when I need to pack something," says Amanda Hesser, co-founder and CEO. "Also, any time I get a gift, I save the ribbon, and if possible, the paper, too."
- Save the containers from any larder or pantry items that come in jars—like, yogurt, kimchi, pasta sauce—and use them as food storage containers, flower vases, and drinking glasses.
- The brown butcher paper that often comes as package filler makes for excellent gift wrap. Just add upcycled twine or string for a bow!
- "I add empty food boxes and egg cartons to my son's play kitchen, or use for an art project," says Sarah Yaffa, data analyst.
- Look for local spots (like Goodwill) that accept donations for clothing and furniture, so you can skip the trash bin.
- On the flip side, take advantage of message boards like Craigslist "free stuff" in your neighborhood if you're on the lookout for something like a couch or a computer monitor.
- Hang onto those vegetable scraps! And that feta brine. Oh, and those banana peels. There's a secondary use for pretty much any edible ingredient you might think to toss. ("We use citrus peels to make our own all-purpose cleaning spray a little scented," says Business Operations Director and Executive Assistant, Karen Levi.)
- Start a compost bin for any food scraps that don't make it into a recipe.
- Look beyond food scraps to repurpose absolutely everything you can around the house. "My mom always had a 'rag bag'—all old t-shirts, sheets, and towels went in there, and were used for cleaning," says Amanda.
- "Living eco-friendlier is about an awareness that just about everything we do requires energy," says Dave Katz, video editor. "Take shorter showers, remember to turn lights off if nobody's in a room, don't let the sink run for no reason, and close the fridge."
- Build a quick check into your routine to make sure your air conditioner or heater's off when you're heading out.
- If feasible, opt to walk or take public transportation rather than adding a vehicle to the road. "When the weather is nice (which, thankfully, is happening more and more often) and I don't have to travel too far, I always try to walk or take public transportation rather than hopping in a taxi," says Assistant Editor of Partner Content, Erin Alexander.