I’m a fan of balance. Not the kind of balance that many health and fitness professionals exude that really takes a considerable amount of discipline and full time work effort to maintain but the type of balance that feels like it puts everything into perspective. Choices that liberate rather than restrict. Choices that feel light not heavy. Choices that are so simple they are refine.
That’s why when it comes to saving the planet (just like when it comes to improving our health), I think there are many possibilities to adapt into your lifestyle. I work with some clients who choose to go vegan to help save the planet only to find it limiting and restricting. Eating vegan should not be that AT ALL and if you are in that boat, maybe it’s time to start thinking about something less extreme. After all, you’d make more of an impact if you contributed to saving the planet everyday for the rest of your life rather than for only two weeks. If you’re happily eating more of a plant-based diet, keep chilling. Keep chilling and don’t feel guilty for that hamburger you had last weekend at the BBQ. Feeling guilty is not going to save the planet my friend. So again, eat plant-based if you want to but I hate seeing people feel stressed out about going vegan to save the planet because that’s not actually healthy. So while I’m vegan (and would love to help a sister or brother out if need be), I wanted to provide other options to think about that may feel more doable. Aiming for more do able likely means more sustainable (aka a win-win choice) for the long haul means more impact.
10 Realistic Ways to Help the Planet Without Going Vegan
- Borrow. We live in a consumer economy. I get it. But I think borrowing clothes, jewelry, baby things, lawn care stuff, and more is one of the most underutilized services. What’s better yet, if you’re borrowing your neighbor’s lawn mower in exchange for your pressure washer (or whatever it may be), it’s a win win and creates a deep sense of community that can oftentimes be lacking.
- Fix. I can’t tell you how many things I see getting thrown away because many of my millennial peers don’t know how to fix things, so we just throw them away or donate them. No kids. I don’t know how to fix anything either but I know how to use a Google search bar and you better bet I’ll find someone to fix that seam on my favorite dress before I decide to donate it.
- Bring Your Own Bags – This is so mainstream now that I love it because I remember when I started bringing my own bags to stores in 2007 people thought I was nuts. My **absolute** favorite bags are the LOVE Stash It Reusable Bag. The bag is lightweight but incredible durable (holds up to 35lb), machine washable, annnd made from recycled plastic bottles. They might be more than other bags out there but I use mine all the time (as a beach bag too because the fabric won’t collect sand) and I find them to be well worth the value.
- Meal Plan. Go to the grocery store hungry and come bag with extras?? If you meal plan, you’re more likely to buy food that you need for the week. This sounds like a small step but can be huge in reducing the amount of food waste your household produces.
- Eat the Food After the Date. Many foods like cold cereals and canned fruits and vegetables can be used a year after the date on the package (yep, that’s right). Simply by eating the food you’ve purchased, you can minimize the impact on the environment (and potentially save some money). Don’t believe me, check out dates of several other foods HERE.
- Bring your coffee cup to your favorite coffee shop and while you’re there, hydrate with your reusable water bottle you also brought.
- Does the produce you buy need to go in a bag? If not, leave it out. I do this a lot with onions, garlic, avocados, bananas or any produce where I won’t be eating the skin.
- Leftover Competition. Food waste is a topic near and dear to my heart for many reasons and aside from buying what you need, it’s important to eat what you buy. That includes prepared food too. So even though that boring casserole did not strike the taste buds, get creative with new additions or adding a flavor profile to love your leftovers and avoid throwing them away.
- Practice yoga. Yep, you heard me. The most effective way to change your behavior is to slow down and become more mindful. The best way I know how to do that is through yoga. It’s only when you realize the interconnectedness of everything – that when we hurt animals or the earth, we in essence hurting ourselves.
- Practice acceptance. Never judge anyone where they are at in the minimizing waste/saving the environment spectrum because you’ve been at that place too. Perfect is not the point. We don’t need a need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing zero waste imperfectly and just because we can’t to everything (maybe you can’t get down with vegan or you aren’t able to compost in your community), doesn’t mean we can’t do anything.
There are certainly many other ways you can make a difference, but I wanted this list to not only help get you started or reaffirm your current habits but remind you that you don’t have to go vegan to save the planet. And if in going vegan you’re stressing out about your food choices, that’s not healthy or sustainable.
Still interested in plant-based eating? Check out my 3 Day Low Waste Plant-Based Dinner Guide for tasty and creative plant-based meals you can make this week!