10 unconventional ways to fight for environmental justice

It's a whole lot more than just recycling and composting

Today, not as many people talk about the environment when talking about social justice. But our planet is just as much a part of social life as is gender and race. While we often talk about how our planet is getting warmer every year, we don’t talk about what we specifically can do to slow down climate change. While environmental issues may not be “your thing” per say, we all need to try and protect our planet. Recycling and composting are great, but unfortunately they are not enough. Here are ten easy ways for you to live greener everyday.

1. Consume ethically and sustainably

[Image description: woman carrying shopping bags (hopefully filled with ethically and sustainably made goods) across the street.]

The fast fashion industry is incredibly destructive to our planet’s wellbeing in its use of chemicals, poor labor practices, and overuse of resources. Denim is one of the dirtiest industries, so by consuming clean denim you take an important step in keeping our planet clean! Look for brands that produce ethically and sustainably–usually this looks like using good materials, ethical practices, and long-lasting items.

2. Eat more plants

[Image description: gif of carrot flexing its muscles with words “VEGAN POWER”.]

Unprocessed, plant-based foods are gentle on the land they are grown on, do not produce very much waste, and helps decrease greenhouse emissions. Processed foods generally are made in large factories that produce emissions and pollute the environment with chemicals. Meats like beef are also very land-intense. Not only is eating a vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian diet more environmentally friendly, it’s also better for your body! 

3. Use plastics-free beauty products

[Image description: gif of woman applying mascara (hopefully one without plastics in it)]

Microbeads are tiny little beads of plastic that are found in face wash, body scrubs, some toothpastes and other cosmetics. They are super duper small so they aren’t captured in the wastewater treatment process. These little pieces of plastic then flow into the water, harming sea life. To protect sea life, buy products that don’t have microbeads! 

4. Practice minimalism

[Image description: image of a minimalist, marble bookcase with few books on it.] <a href="source"> </a>
[Image description: image of a minimalist, marble bookcase with few books on it.]

Minimalism is a practice of doing more with less. In practicing minimalism, we learn to consume less and to want less. By consuming less stuff, we use less resources and don’t pollute the earth with our unwanted products. Minimalism can seem really challenging in our consumption-filled lives but purchasing high quality items that last a long time can be equally satisfying.  

5. Get around greener

[Image description: gif of a cartoon woman riding her bike through a park with a dog in the front basket.]

By using public transportation or less emission-intensive modes of transportation like carpooling or bicycling, we can reduce emissions. One of the big threats to the environment is emissions! By biking, taking the subway, or even carpooling with friends and family, we can pollute less.

6. Reuse… everything!

[Image description: green arrow that says, "reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat"]<a href="source"> </a>
[Image description: green arrow that says, “reduce, reuse, recycle, repeat”]

I try to find new and fun uses for my old stuff. I use an old bracelet box to store my polaroids and an old cookie container to store my pencils. Instead of throwing these things away, try to find new and cool uses! Glass jars can be used for everything from making chia pudding, storing your extra change, or putting fresh-cut flowers!

7. Sustainably get rid of your stuff

[Image description: gif of dancing plastic bag on a pink background. Bag reads “thanks for nothing” reminding us to get rid of stuff more sustainably.]

Throwing your old clothes in the trash fills up our landfills. Instead, try selling your clothes to other people, altering your old clothes to match your current needs, or donating your clothing. While there are definitely concerns around dumping all your stuff at Goodwilll, finding new homes for your old stuff helps reduce waste!

8. Use reusable containers

[Image description: gif of woman drinking from very large, reusable mug on a purple background.]

Whether you are using a reusable water bottle, reusable coffee mug, or reusable to-go containers, these little steps all help reduce waste! You can find tons of super cute water bottles, travel mugs, and containers that will last a long time.

9. Shop local

[Image description: multicolored tomatoes and other produce at a farmers market]<a href="source"> </a>
[Image description: multicolored tomatoes and other produce at a farmers market]

Not only are you supporting people within your community, you are reducing your carbon footprint. I try to buy fruits and vegetables that are grown in-season so they don’t have to travel as far. Farmers markets are great ways to support local farmers and get super fresh produce!

10. Use less aerosols

[Image description: gif of woman applying hairspray onto a model.]

While the U.S. outlawed putting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in aerosols in the 1970s, aerosol sprays still aren’t great for the environment. While CFCs actively eroded the ozone layer, current day aerosol sprays contribute small amounts to the carbon footprint and also emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs contribute to ground-level ozone levels and some states, like California, are thinking about banning them because they can increase smog. Instead of reaching for your favorite can of hairspray, think about using a different product!

You can use one of these ten tips or all of them! Hopefully they will help you live greener and keep our planet green too!