I’ll be the first to admit—reducing my carbon footprint was never really something that entered my head, except during the occasional Netflix documentary on said subject. Otherwise, I just never thought much about it.
Until I read NYC author Erin Boyle’s book Simple Matters, that is. She eloquently describes how she and her Brooklyn family strive to live an urban existence with as small a carbon footprint as possible, and she said it in a way that really made a ton of sense to me. I started brainstorming ways I was already reducing the so-called footprint without even knowing it—not owning a car, walking/taking public transportation everywhere, being a vegetarian, turning lights off when I leave a room. Simple things that you don’t even think twice about.
I knew there was MUCH more I could be doing without much effort to help this effort, though. After some brainstorming (and help from Erin’s book!), here’s the simple steps I came up with:
Say Goodbye To Plastic Water Bottles
The hubby and I had gotten into a terrible habit of FreshDirecting cases of water bottles…when, let’s be real, NYC tap water is some of the best in the country. By ending this weekly order, and committing to bring my own water when I’m out and about so I don’t need to purchase a bottle on the go, we’re easily saving 120 of those bottles a month(!!!) I purchased this refillable Klean Kanteen which I couldn’t be happier with—it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot basically all day, and its compact 12 ounce size is perfect for plopping in my purse or sliding into the beverage cup holder on the stroller.
Ugh, another thing I was TERRIBLE at. I was legit one of those people who would leave computers/cell phone chargers/blenders plugged in for MONTHS at a time…and for what?! Now I charge and then unplug everything from the wall, and apparently this will also add up to a little dough. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adopting these practices can save you $100 each year on your energy bill.
Try My Best To Buy American Made Products
Ok, this is obviously one that will be a work in progress, but I’m happy to say that since my little crusade to reduce my carbon footprint started, I have ONLY purchased clothing that has been made in the USA. This takes research, of course, and often times the products will be a bit more pricey—but I also like that I’m in turn supporting companies that are more mom and pop type shops and take true passion in what they do/produce…plus the quality thus far has been very impressive, and I know the items will last much longer than those from fast fashion stores. A few favorites I’ve come across so far are: Tradlands and Steven Alan (for button down shirts), Hackwith Design House (for unique pieces produced in limited quantities—every Monday they release a new design where a max amount of 25 are produced in Minnesota. They also have a gorgeous bridal line!), Current/Elliot and Ernest Sewn (for denim), some of ModCloth’s line (for vintage style dresses and tops) and American Apparel (for tees, workout clothes, and basics.) I still have a ways to go—but it’s a step in the right direction to focus on purchasing goods made in the states, both for the environment and the economy.
Actively Sort My Trash/Recycling
We have recycling bins in our building, and I would always make an effort to, say, throw wine bottles in. But lately I’ve made an effort to sort EVERYTHING that I would have formerly just thrown straight in the trash, and get this: we’ve gone from having basically one giant Hefty bag of trash a DAY to one a WEEK. Gonna go ahead and give myself a gold star for that;-)
Use Cloth Napkins/Tea Towels
We were one of those families that went through several rolls of Bounty a WEEK. Now, we certainly haven’t given up our paper towels all together, but now I reserve them for certain cleaning projects, and for everything else (meals, wiping down the counter, wiping baby drool), I use cloth napkins or tea towels. (Love this set of 18 with a French vibe.) Do they get stained? Well, yes. But better to have stained napkins that are actually useful than perfectly precious ones sitting in a linen closet unused for years and years, right?
And there you have it…5 simple steps in my own NYC apartment/life to reduce that carbon footprint of mine. I’m a total beginner at this, and would love to hear what YOU’RE doing in your life to help this cause. Please share below, I would love some further inspiration!