You will stop believing that you can buy your way to a better world… we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Model4GreenLiving

Have you ever considered how we, as a species, are caring for our planet? How we are using it’s limited resources? As you might have read elsewhere, I grew up in a family that was fanatically environmentally conscious. It dictated my parents (and, as a result, the whole family’s) lifestyle. During my teen years it was something that I resented, and as a young adult in my early twenties I even went so far as to rebel against it. It wasn’t until after I became tangibly responsible for the next generation that I began to truly see the critical need for large-scale change. For me, this looks a bit different to the type of environmentalism that my parents practiced. They were happy to make (often extreme) lifestyle choices in the name of this cause, and while I have a huge amount of respect for this commitment, I know that for many – myself included – this isn’t a practical option. Instead, I argue that a collective of small, manageable changes can also have a great impact, and they are, consequentially, easier to commit to. With this in mind, I asked my mother to share some of her less radical, but still very much worthy, suggestions…

‘Recycling is really important and something we need to do as much as possible. Repurposing, however, has even greater environmental impact because if we turn something we are done using into something else we need, it keeps us from buying, or consuming, that new thing we think we need.

We drink wine in our house. Some wine is corked with plastic corks, but some is corked with real cork that has been harvested from Oak Trees, that grow in countries around the Mediterranean, by removing the bark and cambium layer of live trees. Such activity tends to reduce the life span of the tree. There are companies that collect and grind used corks (even stained ones) to use in remanufacturing sustainable products. Corks are so light weight that they are they are inexpensive to ship. You can find the closest cork recycler through Google.

Another thing I like to do is save colorful pages from old magazines and newspapers (only the pages that really interest me) and use them for wrapping paper. I put them in an envelope to keep them clean (preferably one that I have received something in the mail in and don’t want to just toss away). When I want to wrap something I allow a little time to go through the pages and pick out colors or themes or subjects in the pictures that I think will be interesting to my gift recipient. I never buy wrapping paper, and almost always get compliments on the wrapping job. You can use strips of fabric off old clothes that are too gone by to pass along to make ribbons for the packages.

Coffee travel mugs cost anywhere from $12 – $30. I always lose them. My favorite travel mug is a glass jar with a lid, leftover from cooking and thoroughly scrubbed, with a remnant warm sock (the other one of which has disappeared in the laundry abyss) put on it like a sleeve and folded up and down as many times as it takes to make it neat. The sock will keep your coffee surprisingly hot.

Large plastic jars, the sort that pretzels and other snacks come in, make great organizing containers for kids small toys, especially because they have lids. They can be decorated with poster paints, for a fun afternoon activity. These jars, and smaller ones, also make great storage containers for adult notions, such as screws and nails and other hardware.

If you are lucky enough to live close to a grocery store that sells bulk flour and sugar and other ingredients, saved and thoroughly cleaned glass jars are great for filling. Most stores have a scale right in this section so that you can weigh the jar empty, mark the number down, then weigh it full. If you give both sets of numbers to the cashier then she/he can enter those numbers and you will be charged only for the cost of goods purchased.’

Also, f you’re interested, a great account to follow on instagram for more sustainability and environmental inspo is @stevieyaaaay. Check her out!

Do you have any eco-suggestions? Comment below!