HOW TO CONSUME BETTER IN 21 DAYS
Why this guide?
At Solios, we believe that no one should sacrifice their entire lifestyle to make tomorrow’s world greener and better. We firmly think that big changes start with small actions that one can easily make on a daily basis, without compromising their routine.
The following guide will provide a vast array of tools to help you do just that: drive positive change through small yet meaningful actions.
We won’t tell you to make dramatic changes to your current habits. We won’t fall into extreme solutions. We won’t ask you to sacrifice anything.
Instead, we’ll provide useful tips. Tips on how to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle without losing sight of who you are.
An ever-changing guide
Every day, new studies emerge on sustainability. Every day, we learn new things when it comes to adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. This guide will therefore always evolve and adapt itself to the latest discoveries in the environmental space.
We also want to hear from you: if you have any suggestions on how to improve this guide to make it better suited to your needs, please reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to listen to your comments.
Enjoy the read!
Nota Bene: Some suggestions in this guide will refer to buying more sustainable goods. Please keep in mind that we are not encouraging you to increase your consumption of certain products, but to favour sustainable options when you are already thinking of buying specific kinds of items.
Our main suggestion will always be to extend a product’s life cycle as much as possible before replacing it with a more eco-friendly option.
Week 1: Actions related to your current lifestyle
1. Use your reusable bags as much as possible and try to carry them with you at all times;
As everyone knows by now, single-use plastic bags are incredibly harmful for the planet. The most popular solution available on the market right now is the reusable bag, which can easily be found in any grocery store.
However, be careful with those: many reusable bags are entirely or partially made out of plastic! According to several studies, a reusable bag can be as harmful as 100 to 2000 single-use plastic bags. With this in mind, the below tips can help you make the most out of your current reusable bags:
- Instead of buying new reusable bags, use the ones you already have or those that are provided when you buy clothing or books;
- Don’t only use them for grocery shopping. Make sure to have your reusable bags with you when you are out shopping: the environmental impact of a single-use plastic bag is after all the same whether it contains lettuce or a pair of shoes;
- Once you start using reusable bags, don’t ever go back to disposable ones. Getting 10 plastic bags is polluting, but getting 8 of them and 2 reusable ones is even more damageable.
- Opt for bags made out of unplasticised, organic materials. You will find numerous options on the market: hemp, organic cotton, recycled fabric.
- And lastly - have you ever considered using a backpack instead?
2. Use a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one;
It is widely known that plastic water bottles make up for a large portion of the pollution on our planet. According to a Guardian report, less than half of the 480 billion water bottles bought in 2016 have been recycled.
An alarming number, right?
The goods news is that it is fairly easy to do your part on that front by simply buying a reusable water bottle.
When looking to purchase one, make sure that your final choice:
- Doesn’t contain any BPA (an endocrine disruptor) or chemical products;
- Can be easily transported;
- Is isothermal;
- Is airtight;
- Is shockproof;
- Has an environmental footprint as light as possible (look at the fabrication process and if you can recycle it at the end of its lifecycle)
3. Always carry utensils
Are you a busy bee? If so, you are probably quite familiar with eating food on-the-go and using disposable cutlery.
According to several studies, more than 40 billion plastic utensils are used every year in the United States alone. This means that stopping your usage of disposable cutlery altogether will have a great impact on tomorrow’s world.
The easiest way to get started is to carry with you your home utensils, or to opt for more sustainable options like bamboo cutlery.
4. Leave the house with your morning drink in a reusable cup
Can’t survive the morning without a coffee or tea? Single-use coffee cups are known to be very polluting: getting a reusable cup can therefore make a big impact in the long-term.
There seems to be one problem with reusable cups, though: we tend to forget them at home, meaning we must opt for a disposable cup when the coffee craving hits. A small and easy trick to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future? In the morning, make your first coffee or tea at home, and pour it immediately in your reusable cup. This will help you leave the house with the cup in hand, ready to be used over and over again throughout the day for your coffee runs.
5. Try a new meat-free recipe
Over the past few years, grocery stores have massively increased their offering of plant-based foods, making it easier to find alternatives to animal proteins. You can now swap your dinner’s meat with options like tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes, nuts and grains and so on.
According to a study from the science-based magazine Nature, the production of animal-based foods is responsible for 72 to 78% of the greenhouse gas emissions coming from the world’s agricultural sector.
Removing certain meat-based meals from your current diet will therefore make way for a more sustainable lifestyle. We recommend starting small, by finding meat alternatives to your foods. You’ll see: there are so many vegetarian and vegan tips and tricks on the Internet. You just need to find the ones that suit you best!
6. If possible, challenge yourself and swap one of your daily trips with a walk
Have you developed the habit of using a car for a trip of less than 2 km? Walking the distance instead of jumping in the car is a great way to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
Whether it’s a convenience store, a supermarket or a loved one’s house, increase your daily steps and use the power of your legs to get to your destination. You’ll quickly see that you’ll get more and more comfortable with walking, and you’ll love getting some fresh air on a daily basis!
And to make those walks even better, treat yourself to your favourite podcast or some good old tunes. Now that’s a great way to take care of yourself - and of Mother Nature.
7. Lower your thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees
Contributing to a greener world can literally be done in the comfort of your home!
By lowering your thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees, you’ll reduce your energy production - a contributing factor to greenhouse emissions.
By regulating your house’s temperature, you’ll therefore prevent the unnecessary emission of greenhouse gas. And if you are a little cold, you can always wrap a warm blanket around your shoulders or put on a comforting sweater!
8. Use a drying rack instead of a drying machine
Did you know? Refrigerators, washing machines and drying machines are in order of importance the appliances that use the most energy around the house.
A simple solution to reduce your energy use would be to start using a drying rack more often: after all, do you really need to dry that piece of clothing now if you are not planning on wearing it in the next hour?
Using a drying rack could reduce your house’s carbon footprint by 2,400 litres every year: a massive impact! And in case you needed another reason to opt for a drying rack: it has been proven that air drying keeps fabric intact and makes your clothing last longer.
9. Cook a meal only with what you have in your fridge or freezer
Everyone has done it before: buying food to either shove it in the freezer a few days later or throw it in the bin because it’s been sitting in the back of the fridge for (a little!) too long.
According to the Institute of Food Science and Technology, more than a third of all produced foods in the world goes to waste, which translates to $1 trillion in non-consumed products. A simple trick to avoid wasting food is to make an inventory of what you have left in your fridge or freezer before going to the grocery store: this way, you can plan your week’s meals with what you already have, and only buy what is necessary.
Implementing such a process will not only be good on the planet: it will also be good on your wallet!
10. Revisit your wardrobe
You probably know the drill: how often do we say “I have nothing to wear” while our wardrobe is literally full of clothes?
With the rise of online shopping, it is fairly easy to succumb to impulse buying: after all, this lovely piece of clothing is only one click away. A good way to reduce your clothing consumption - and to give a little bit of love to your wallet in the process! - is to revisit your wardrobe every time you are about to make an online purchase. Do you really need a new blazer? Have you forgotten about one that is already sitting in the back of your closet? Make sure to pay a frequent visit to your wardrobe to avoid unnecessary purchases.
If you really need something new, we then recommend looking for more sustainable options. Look for organic or recycled fabrics and brands who have received international certifications within the sustainability space. The B Corp certification is one of the most prestigious and renowned ones out there: look out for it!
We personally recommend the below brands, who have great sustainable values and well as timeless pieces that will never go out of style:
11. Recycle your electronic goods and your batteries
Loads of people don’t know what to do with their old phones, laptops or used batteries. If it is your case, do not worry: we got you covered! Electronic goods and used batteries are meant to be recycled, but in a secure and eco-friendly way.
Televisions, computers, video games, printers or phones can all be recycled: a simple online search can help you find local organisations that offer recycling programs for electronic goods and batteries.
Psst - Did you know? Solios is currently working on its own recycling program for unconventional goods. Stay tuned to learn more about the program and the product types we will be accepting!
12. Use eco-friendly search engines
Let’s face it: Google plays a big part in our daily lives. One cannot spend a day without searching for something specific on the platform, from recipes to latest news to photos of puppies (we get it).
Since using a search engine is part of everyone’s daily routine, a simple action with a big impact would be to switch Google for an eco-friendly search engine. Never heard of them? Make sure to discover the below:
- Ecosia: a search engine that uses renewable energy to power your searches. All profits made are used to plant trees across the globe.
- Lilo: a search engine which asks its users to choose a cause they believe in. All profits made from advertisements on the platform are then given to the selected cause. This search engine does not collect nor resell its users’ personal information.
- Givewater: all profits made from the search engine’s advertising solutions are reinvested in providing better water installations and sanitisation to communities in need in developing countries.
Week 2: Make your kitchen and your bathroom more sustainable
1. Use reusable straws
Drinking beverages with a straw is, when you think about it, a habit more than an actual necessity. After all - do we really need a straw to sip on a smoothie in the morning?
According to National Geographic, every day, Americans use more than 500 million disposable straws. And, you will have guessed, those straws end up more often on the ground than in actual recycling bins. Luckily for us, there are numerous types of reusable straws on the market: those made out of metal, bamboo, glass, silicone, etc.
We recommend paying a visit to Stram’s website, a Montreal-based company which offers a wide variety of reusable straws.
A quick tip: always carry your straw in your car, your bag and at the office. This way, you will always have one in hand when you’ll get thirsty!
Oh, and of course, another solution would be to enjoy your drink without a straw. As simple as that!
2. Replace paper towels with cloths or other alternatives
Paper towels are great for their practicality in the kitchen. Their impact on the environment, though? Not so great.
A small yet impactful way to make a sustainable change in your kitchen is to stop using paper towels altogether when it is time to clean the room. After all, the paper industry is known to be quite harmful for the environment, as it consumes more water than any other industry on the planet. Try using a rag or a cloth instead: you’ll be surprised by their practicality and effectiveness!
Another interesting avenue would be to get your hands on reusable towels, like the ones from Kliin. The Beloeil-based brand offers a vast array of unique, compostable and beautifully-designed towels with a great absorption capacity, which can be put in the washing machine up to 300 times. That’s what we call effectiveness!
3. Replace all your single-use containers with reusable ones
But before anything else, make sure to look at what containers you already have at home before buying anything: you might realise that you already have a fair share of them!
Tip 1: Thinking of getting some more eco-friendly containers? Before doing so and making a purchase, check your current stock of resealable plastic bags at home and use them instead until they are at the end of their lifecycle. We recommend washing them after each use, as it allows you to use them over and over again, right up to the moment that you don’t have a choice and need to get new (eco-friendly!) containers.
Whilst consuming more sustainably is definitely sexy (!), nothing is better than simply consuming less.
Tip 2: You’re at home or at the office and have a solid craving for food? Look for local restaurants who will accept your reusable containers - it is a thing.
If you can’t find a nearby restaurant who does that, don’t worry: simply wash the containers you or your friends get with a food delivery and keep them in the house to reuse them in the future.
Tip 3: If you don’t own reusable containers and don’t have any plastic ones at home, you can start looking for the most sustainable options on the market. For small resealable bags - ideal for a snack! - made in Quebec, we recommend La Fabrik Éco and its large selection of sustainable and practical products.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables - and more intelligently!
Another way to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle is to eat more fruits and vegetables, all while reducing your meat consumption. Whilst this is true, you might also want to consider other factors which will have an impact on the ecological footprint of your fruits and veggies:
- Go for local produce. A vegetable that has traveled around the world is more harmful for the environment than the one grown in a local farm. Another tip - look for urban greenhouses in your neighborhood: you can’t get more local than that!
- When you have the choice (and the budget!), opt for organic foods. Organic produce comes from a specific agricultural protocol that is more sustainable.
- If possible, go for packaging-free options. Have you ever noticed in your grocery store how certain foods are swamped in unnecessary packaging?
- Bring to the supermarket your fruit and vegetable bags as well as your reusable ones.
- Be creative! Why not get into gardening and start cultivating your own produce in the backyard or on your balcony? Certain types of fruit, vegetable and herb can be easily cultivated in the comfort of home - even through the infamous Canadian winter!
5. Cut and freeze your not-so-fresh fruits and veggies
Open your fridge right now: are there any fruits or vegetables that don’t look fresh anymore? If that is the case, take action! Don’t wait until they are properly expired, forcing you to throw them out. Instead, when they start to lose their freshness, cut them up and store them in the freezer. Not only will they keep all their good stuff, like minerals and vitamins: they will be perfect for a soup or smoothie. A simple trick to reduce food waste!
6. Replace your kitchen sponges with a more sustainable alternative
Did you know? Your kitchen sponges are made out of non-recyclable plastic. Loads of alternatives exist: you can easily find an option that is just as practical, but more sustainable!
- Cut an old piece of clothing and use it to wash your dishes.
- Use a silicone-made sponge. Whilst silicone is a polymer, it remains a more sustainable alternative to plastic. Silicone is usually made without petroleum products, solvent or chemicals. Plus, it can be recycled and is incredibly durable!
- You can also use a walnut-based sponge. Yes, walnut-based! This type of sponge is just as effective as the ones you have in your kitchen right now, but is much better for the environment!
The Unscented company, a Quebec-based brand, offers a large array of natural household products: they even have those intriguing walnut scrubber sponges! They also happen to be B Corp certified, just like Solios.
7. Get your hands on a bamboo toothbrush
Bamboo toothbrushes have been getting more popular over the past few years, thanks to their minimalist look at sustainable touch. We recommend doing some proper research before getting your hands on a bamboo brush - make sure to pay attention to the following:
- Where the bamboo has been sourced (locally or on the other side of the world?)
- The type of bristles used: some will be made out of animal hair, a byproduct of the meat industry. Some are made out of nylon.
- Can you remove the head of the toothbrush? Some options allow you to throw away the handle in a compost bin.
- The bristles’ softness: if you have sensitive gums, look for a bamboo toothbrush with soft bristles that won’t hurt them.
Last but not least - be patient! Transitioning to a bamboo toothbrush can be weird at first: take the time to adapt and embrace it.
8. Use soap bars instead of body wash in plastic bottles
Have you ever hesitated between a soap bar and a body wash lotion at the pharmacy? Many people tend to opt for the latter, because of the price or the exotic scents.
From a sustainability standpoint, soap bars are known to be a slightly better choice, as it takes five times more energy to produce body wash. And let’s not forget that your body wash does come in a plastic bottle!
We recommend buying soap bars in bulk (if possible!) and those who come in recyclable packaging. Quick note: Dove’s packaging is made out of plastified cardboard, which can’t be recycled. Make sure to pay attention to the packaging when you shop!
If you want to take a step further and get some of the greenest alternatives out there, we recommend checking the ingredients of your considered options. You should try to avoid the following:
- Palm oil
- Animal grease
- Additives (EDTA, BHT, etc.)
9. Buy in bulk!
Bulk stores have become increasingly popular in the past few years, and it looks like there are here to stay - great news!
This type of store allows you to drastically reduce your ecological footprint, as you won’t find loads of unnecessary packaging like in traditional food shops. Bulk stores also allow you to come in with your glass containers, meaning you can fill up your own jar with your favourite nuts, candy or even body wash! And by the way - buying two litres of body wash or dishwasher liquid in a bulk store means eliminating the production of 4 plastic bottles. Not bad at all!
You will also find that many bulk stores offer natural products. A personal favourite of ours: Attitude, which has an impressive array of natural washing liquids.
We recommend a slow transition when it comes to bulk purchases. Drastically changing all of your products the next day can be overwhelming! For a smooth transition, switch one product at a time.
10. Take shorter showers
One of the simplest ways to do your part for the environment is to reduce the length of your showers. After all, a fifth of all potable water on our planet is used precisely for this: showering. Imagine what we could do if everyone spent less time under their shower head!
Reducing your shower by two minutes can make a huge difference: you could save up to 10 gallons of water every time.
Quick tip: a great way to start cutting your water usage is to simply turn off the tap when you are applying soap on your body!
Week 3: Education and community-focused actions
1.Watch a documentary or docu-series focused on sustainability
Looking for something to watch on a Saturday night? Trade the usual action-packed movie for an interesting documentary or docu-series on durability. A great and entertaining way to become more eco-conscious!
Need a bit of inspiration? Here is a list of our personal favourites when it comes to sustainability-focused entertainment:
- Before the flood by Fisher Stevens
- The true cost of fast fashion by Andrew Morgan
- Rotten by Netflix
- Minimalism by Matt d’Avella
And don’t forget to spread the word! After watching one of the above, encourage your friends and family to also watch them. The more we talk about it, the more we can make an impact on the world.
2. Sign up to an educational newsletter
Instead of looking for information, let it come to you! A simple way of getting fact-checked information on several environmental issues is to sign up to the newsletter of charities, businesses or blogs that work within the sustainable space.
For example, Bill Gates’ blog, Gates notes, covers many topics such as climate change and the latest news on green energy. A great one to follow!
3. Listen to an engaging podcast
Walking to the grocery store? Taking the bus on your way to work? Or perhaps you are out running? Make the most out of these small moments by listening to an entertaining, yet educative podcast on topics that are of interest.
Below are some of our recommendations:
- How to save a planet
- Green dreamer
- Sustainable mind
And just like documentaries, make sure to share your newly-found knowledge with your loved ones!
4. Give away your clothes and homeware to charities and people in need
If you are about to throw away pieces of clothing or homeware, think about how they could change someone else’s life. Before putting anything in the bin, start by asking people in your entourage if anyone could benefit from your belongings. Someone in a precarious situation might actually really want what you want to get rid of.
After going through your network, identify local charities that will welcome your donations with open arms. You will be able to truly make a difference in someone’s life, as such donations usually go to people in need.
Giving back is such a thrilling feeling: you will feel amazing after donating your unwanted belongings to local charities. And don’t hesitate to talk about your experience with friends and family, as it may encourage them to follow your footsteps and donate as well!
5. Become a volunteer at your favourite sustainability-focused non-profit organisation
Write down on a search engine “Volunteering at sustainable organisation” and you will quickly realise that there is a large number of charities and groups who are actively seeking volunteers in their region.
Let’s be frank: there is more than enough time in your week to do a good deed. You can start by replacing an hour or two of movie-watching on Netflix by some volunteering in your community. You’ll quickly realise that it’s much more gratifying than staying at home in front of another action-packed series. And while you’re at it, why don’t you ask a friend of yours to join you? It will make your good action even more fun, all while driving positive change around you.
And through it all, keep in mind that every single action you’ll do as a volunteer will tangibly help your community. It is a great way to lift your mood!
6. Pick one habit. Then change it for the best.
In 2020, Instagam’s 1 billion users spent a daily average of 30 minutes on the app. And let’s be honest: out of that half hour, the majority of the consumed content was probably meaningless.
We encourage you to try an exercise that will hopefully change your life for the best. Every week, try to unfollow five Instagram accounts that don’t bring you any value or joy. Then, try to find five new pages to follow that are focused on meaningful topics aligned with your own values. Since Instagram’s algorithm will push content from new accounts you follow, you will quickly get exposed to more valuable content: a nicer way to spend that 30 minutes a day!
Instagram’s discovery tool can help you easily find meaningful accounts to follow: simply type in the search bar some keywords that best represent your interests. For example, by putting #zerowaste, #sustainablefasion, #DIY or even #sustainableliving in the discovery tool, you’ll be able to find some great content creators and pages who tackle these topics. You can select your favourite ones and start following them.
7. Educate yourself!
It doesn’t take much time to form an opinion on a subject: a few minutes of reading can do the trick. Try to block some time every day to further educate yourself on topics that interest you and do a quick research. Do you know what is the difference between the “bio” and “organic” certifications? What is more sustainable: paper bags or those made out of fabric? What are the environmental topics currently discussed by the UN? What is Bill Gates’ latest environmental project?
A simple research will not only help you become a better version of yourself: you’ll acquire some knowledge that you will want to share with the rest of your friends and family, helping spread the word on ecological issues.
In the end, our best piece of advice will always be the same: consume less!
Consuming any product responsibly is essential to protect the future of our society and our planet. Make sure to look for recycled or organic materials whenever you can. Favour local produce. Pay close attention to any product’s durability and life cycle.
And before buying anything, take a step back to assess if your potential purchase is based on actual needs or not. If it is not essential, then ask yourself how much you want it and for how long you plan to use it. If you see something that you really want right now, we recommend waiting a couple of days before making the purchase: if you really want the product, you’ll think about it even a few days after you first saw it. You’ll realise that quite often, you’ll forget about it less than 24 hours after it was in your online basket!
But if you realise that you really want the product and plan on using it for a long time, we then recommend doing a bit of research. Can you find greener alternatives that serve the same purpose? Can you find a B Corp-certified company that sells it or something similar? B Corp certifications will allow you to recognise companies that go the extra mile when it comes to sustainability and ethical work practices.
In case of doubt, always remember: to consume less is to consume better!
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