By Madelyn Schwilke, SNCW volunteer and eCampus student at Oregon State University, studying Natural Resources and Sustainability
There is nothing more important than everyday actions when it comes to reducing your impact on the planet. In fact, many small actions repeated on a daily basis add up over time to make a huge difference. There are many things happening in the world that are outside of our control. However, what you choose to do everyday IS within your control, and has a major positive impact for the planet.
In this “Day in the Life”, come along with me through a sustainable daily routine based loosely on my own daily habits. While my day to day can vary, all of these products and habits are things I implement in my life. Nobody is perfect, but I think everyone can make their routines a little more sustainable.
To start the day, I wake up and make myself some coffee. I drink coffee from home, but if you choose to purchase coffee, buying from a small business is a great choice for supporting the local economy. And good news, don’t forget your reusable cup because most businesses are allowing reusable coffee cups again! For me, I buy organic, Fair Trade coffee to ensure my coffee is being grown and produced as sustainably as possible. To cut down on dairy, I use oat milk creamer. Plant based milks have a smaller carbon footprint than cow’s milk, so I like to use that in my diet whenever possible. (Check out the local plant-rich eating guide here).
After I enjoy my coffee, I shower and get ready for the day. I have swapped pretty much all of my hygiene products from “traditional” ones to more eco-friendly, non-toxic versions. I choose my products based on ingredients, packaging, and the company as a whole. For me, it’s best to choose products that have more natural ingredients, minimal (or non-plastic) packaging, and ones that come from local or sustainable companies.
For hair products, I use a brand called Plaine Products. You order online, and their bottles come in aluminum. As you finish a bottle, you order another one online and they send you a shipping label with your order. Once the new bottle comes in, you use the same packaging to mail back your empty bottle and the company reuses it. All ingredients in their products are planet friendly, and the company holds several certifications such as B Corp and 1% For the Planet. They are also vegan, cruelty free, and carbon neutral, so you don’t have to worry about emissions from transport and production.
For soap and lotion, I buy locally from my favorite company KR Farms. I’ve been purchasing my bar soap and lotions from there for a couple of years now. The products leave out all the extras and harsh ingredients most traditional products have, so they’re better for you and better for the planet. The bar soaps come without any plastic packaging, and are made locally. That means minimal carbon emissions for transport, less waste from packaging, and support for a small local business.
Another great local option is The Suds Shack. In addition to bar soap, they also sell bar lotion. My favorite is their Lavender Lotion Bar. Bar lotion is a great alternative to traditional lotion since it uses less water, is more concentrated, and comes in plastic-free packaging. The Suds Shack also makes their products with clean, natural ingredients.
After getting ready for the day, I pack my lunch for work. Although I’m not vegetarian, I do try to reduce my meat consumption as much as possible and eat more plant based meals. I usually eat plant based meals for lunch, so I opt for local produce like pears, apples, or cucumbers. I get my local produce mostly from family, but the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market has lots of high quality produce as well. For those that do eat meat, there is still a more sustainable option you can choose! Two options that are often at the farmers market are Gau-Sco Farm (pork from Malaga) and Oberg Brothers Natural Beef (from Okanogan County). Buying your meat locally not only supports local business, but it reduces your carbon footprint since it doesn’t have to be shipped far. Another option is to choose USDA Organic, humanely raised meat products from the grocery store.
During my work day, I make sure to stay hydrated. The best way to do so of course is to carry a reusable water bottle with me. This means I don’t have to purchase single use plastic water bottles, and also means less plastic pollution.
After getting off work, I head home to get my schoolwork done and relax for the rest of the evening. With the shorter days of fall and winter getting closer, most of us get off work when it’s already dark outside. With our community having hydropower, it’s easy to forget that we should still conserve energy when possible. During those dark and chilly evenings, remember to turn off lights in the house when they’re not being used, and make sure all your light bulbs are energy saving LEDs.
To get ready for bed, I take off my makeup and wash my face. One of my favorite swaps I made a couple years ago are my reusable cotton pads. Instead of buying disposable makeup wipes or cotton rounds, I use reusable cotton pads that I can just throw in the washing machine to reuse again.
Once I’m finally ready for bed, I like to wind down with meditation or a sleep-cast on the Headspace app. While this is my way of caring for my mind, there are many other forms of self care. Whatever you choose, I believe it’s important to end your day with some kind of self care. In my experience, not only does it allow me to make healthy choices for my body, it also helps me make healthy choices for the planet.