Tips for a greener lifestyle without changing your diet

I get it. Cheetos are tough to give up. Of course, real food is a major aspect of wellness, but maybe, at this point today, dietary changes aren’t your reality. That’s ok- we all start somewhere. A healthy lifestyle can take time, and nutritional changes don’t have to be the first step. There are plenty of small adjustments you can make that will still have a positive impact on your health and the environment. So, if you aren’t ready to kick the Diet Pepsi (though please consider this when you’re ready!!) out of your cart, try adopting these 4 green living modifications. bring your own bag: You may have heard that Chicago and other major cities have begun banning plastic bags. Save a tree too and bring your own bag. My favorite is my upcycled t-shirt bag that can hold 16 pounds (about 2 gallons of milk)!  It easily stuffs inside my purse and it’s machine washable.

Bringing your own bag still too much work? Encourage your favorite stores to switch to compostable bags. Instead of petroleum-based bags, many Chicago businesses (Binnys, Hoosier Mama Pie, and City Harvest Cafe to name a few) are switching to compostable bags made from corn instead. They look like ordinary plastic bags (notice the picture!), but they’re better for the environment.

Go Big: Yes, those pre-packaged snack bags are convenient, but they’re an environmental nightmare leading to unnecessary waste. You’ll save money (and packaging waste) buying one larger bag and portioning it into reusable, dishwasher-safe containers. A smaller container packed with your favorite snack also helps maintain portion control and keeps chips from breaking in a lunch bag.

us againClear the cupboards: Cleaning out closets and dressers can be a tedious chore. Or, maybe you’re like me and have no problem filling up the Goodwill boxes, it’s the next step of delivering them there that you procrastinate. Despite the size of the donation box, I usually end up with plenty of “un-donatable” items because of rips or stains.

Here’s a frightening statistic, though. Americans sent approximately 10.5 million pounds of textiles to landfills in 2014. Yikes. Instead of throwing overly-used textiles (shoes, clothes, linens) in the trash, look for USAgain donation bins. Items that are too used for re-use, are repurposed into insulation or playground material. Cool, right?

Cool it with the water: The California drought has been a huge wake-up call for finding ways to conserve water. Amazingly, becoming mindful of their consumption, California saw a 29% decrease in water usage during the month of May.

Each minute in the shower uses 2.5-5 gallons of water (yep, picture those big water cooler jugs), even shaving 1-2 minutes off your regular shower time can make a big difference. Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in your driveway and you’ll not only conserve water but keep soap and non-filterable chemicals out of the sewer system. Want to get an idea of your water footprint? Click here.

Compostable Bag Photo Credit: Green Mark

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