Overcoming challenges to living an eco-friendly lifestyle

We all want to do our part to live sustainably and make smart choices for the environment. That doesn't mean it's always easy, though. Here are tips for handling three common challenges:

1. Your local recycling has gotten super complicated.

Recent changes in how recycling bundles are accepted overseas have led to more restrictions on what you can throw into the bin. We all need to be more responsible about creating a cleaner recycling stream, but sometimes it's confusing as to what you can recycle in a given city, since they have different rules.

What you can do:

  • Make sure you never toss recyclables enclosed in a plastic bag. Those bags can cause the entire recycling load to be rejected. Carry your recyclables to the receptacle in a paper bag—or, even better, in a reusable box or bin.
  • Find out exactly what types of materials you can recycle where you live. Check the website of your county or city and note their regulations.
  • Use common sense, and avoid putting food waste, textiles or electronics into the recycling bin.

2. Sustainable choices seem to cost more.

Fresh fruit and vegetables (even non-organic) cost a lot more than fast-food hamburgers, and green cleaning products always seem to have a higher price than the kind with lots of chemicals. The struggle is real to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and still keep a tight budget on track. But it's not as bad as it sometimes seems.

What you can do:

  • Buy a reusable water bottle at your local store. You can get an expensive titanium water bottle, or you can get a cheap one. Pick up a BPA-free reusable at your neighborhood grocery store for $2 or so. It saves just as much single-use plastic from the waste stream.
  • Reduce food waste by planning ahead. Figure out how much food you need for a few days, and then portion it out so it actually gets used up while it's fresh. Create kitchen sink salads, soups and pastas with your miscellaneous leftovers.
  • Embrace pre-owned everything. From thrifted fashion to good used furniture, there are great options out there for previously used items. You can reduce your carbon footprint by buying used, and it's much easier on your wallet.
  • Make your own cleaning products. Recipes abound on the internet for DIY cleaners—try a vinegar-based recipe from one of our staff.

3. You don't have a lot of transportation options.

It would be great if you could take a fast, prompt form of public transportation everywhere, but what if you live in the suburbs where there is no light rail, or a bus that goes anywhere near your workplace? Sometimes you just have to use a car, but there are ways to minimize the CO2 you're adding by driving. 

What you can do:

  • Consider driving an electric vehicle, which are much more energy-efficient. Charging stations are becoming increasingly easy to find, which makes them even more practical.
  • Improve your fuel efficiency by driving at moderate speeds, avoiding idling and keeping tires properly inflated.
  • Reduce time on the road by combining your weekly errands into one big trip, rather than picking up just one or two items every day.

Want more tips? Here are few more resources on living green:

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