This Daily Checklist Will Help You Live A Little Greener

Photo: Jacki Potorke

Whether you consider yourself a longtime eco-conscious pioneer or a newcomer to the movement, there are improvements that ALL of us can make to live with our Earth's best interests in mind. Here is a list of questions that you can keep handy for daily reference to ensure that you are living your life in a healthy, eco-friendly way. Write them down and stick them someplace you'll see them—on your fridge, next to your bedroom mirror, etc.—until each point becomes second nature:

1. Did you pass up the plastic today?

Although plastic bags are the most obvious, there are a number of other one-time-use items that we encounter on a daily basis that are unnecessary and can easily be avoided, including:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic cups/coffee cups
  • Straws
  • Plastic utensils
  • Water bottles
  • To-go containers
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2. Did you remember to bring your reusable alternatives with you?

Now that you've made it a point to refuse the items above, you'll need some reusable alternatives to help you go about daily life (I wasn't about to suggest kicking that daily coffee habit to reduce waste; don't worry!). So here are some items that I personally try to keep with me at all times:

  • Reusable tote (replacement for plastic bags)
  • Mason jar (replacement for to-go cups for coffee, smoothies, juice, etc.)
  • Reusable to-go utensils with straw (replacement for plastic utensils and straws on the go)
  • Reusable water bottle (replacement for plastic bottles)
  • Stainless-steel food container (replacement for to-go containers)

3. Were most of your meals plant-based?

It’s no secret that shifting to a plant-based diet can help ease your impact on the planet tremendously. I’ve also found that removing animal products from my lifestyle has made me a much more conscious human being overall and inspired me to rethink many other aspects of my daily routine.

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4. Did you avoid ordering takeout?

The ability to order your favorite dish without leaving your couch is undoubtedly an incredible modern convenience. But in the grand scheme of things, that modern convenience is creating a ton of unnecessary packaging waste that can easily be avoided. Dining in (and bringing a small container with you for any leftovers) or cooking at home are more responsible options that will help nix unnecessary to-go waste.

5. Did you shop in the bulk section for something that otherwise would come in excess packaging?

I remember when I first started buying in bulk, I was blown away by all of the options that were available! You can score deals on things like organic nuts, pastas, rice, quinoa, cereal, granola, seeds, and even little treats like chocolates and freshly made nut butters—without any packaging at all. In more advanced bulk stores you'll even find things like soap, lotion, and detergent refills. Take a look at your current purchases and check to see if bulk alternatives are available.

6. Did you pick up any loose trash that you may have stumbled across?

As you're attempting to get the rest of the world on the same eco-page, you may have to pick up some trash along the way. The simple act of tossing litter that everybody else is stepping over can inspire others to do the same.

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7. Did you look into greener alternatives for something that you're currently using in your daily routine?

No matter how well-versed you are in green living, there's always room for improvement. Maybe your beauty routine could be a little less wasteful, or you can find some kitchen items locally instead of ordering them online. Sometimes, a few minutes of research is all it takes to enact change. To bump up the impact, I use Ecosia.org as my default search engine, and with every search, Ecosia uses the ad revenue to plant trees that other search engines typically would bank as profit. They’ve planted over 15 MILLION trees so far!

8. Did you inspire anybody else to live a little greener?

Do you get some confused-yet-intrigued looks while completing any of the above? If your answer is yes, you're doing it right. By implementing these eco-habits into your daily routine, you are planting greener thoughts in those around you—and that's the most powerful change driver of them all. Shifting our own lives is great, but if we inspire others to implement changes as well, our impact can increase tenfold.

Inspired to make small steps toward big change? Here are five ways you can help the environment in the next hour—without even leaving your desk.

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