*Climate change deniers, I will not debate this topic with you here or anywhere. Sorry not sorry.

The Amazon Rainforest was on fire. Extreme weather is destroying entire cities. Miami, Florida, will be under water before we know it. Entire species are being wiped out. Our land and our oceans are becoming piles of trash. Australia is burning RIGHT NOW.

We hear this stuff every day. It’s all terrible and scary, and a lot of times, our fault.

Okay, so now what? If you are like me, you feel helpless.

But, there is so much we can do to help.

Reversing climate change is very possible, for the time being. So we have to act now! Here are a list of seven simple things you can do today to reduce your waste, your carbon footprint and your impact on the environment. These are in no particular order and are all of equal importance.

Start small and pick a couple of things to start doing right away! If you have a stockpile of single use items, use them. Don’t waste it, just don’t buy anymore.

  1. Bring your own supplies when you eat out. Yes, reusable straws are important, but so are reusable utensils, napkins, coffee cups, water bottles, bags and to-go containers. Keep them in your bag or your car so you always have them with you. Some places even give you a discount if you use your own cup or bring your own bags.
  2. Don’t use single-use items in your home. I know paper plates are convenient, but it’s worth spending a little bit more money at once to save money and lower your waste in the long run. You can even get reusable coffee filters, reusable K-Cups for Keurigs and reusable sandwich bags. You can also cut up old T-shirts to make rags and use washcloths for napkins.
  3. Pay attention to packaging while you shop. Check your county’s recycling policies to see what they accept and then buy accordingly. If you have access to bulk bins, farmers markets or any other place where you can use your own containers to store the items you purchase, do it. If you live in or around Winchester, Virginia, check-out Oak Hart Farm in the spring for your local, low-waste needs. And don’t forget to bring your reusable bags everywhere you go!
  4. If you can, walk or carpool. Any time you don’t have to get into your car, which releases harmful toxins into the air, do it. Even carpooling with your loved ones can save you money and lower your carbon footprint. (An exception to this would be owners of electric cars. If any of my readers are electric car owners, hit me up. I want to take a ride.)
  5. Buy secondhand, local and ethical. Purchasing secondhand clothing insures that that item doesn’t end up in the landfill for the time being and can oftentimes support good causes. Supporting local businesses not only helps grow your local economy, but decreases the energy and waste it takes to ship things that are made in other countries. Lastly, shop ethical brands because they typically use better materials, are more conscious of their environmental impact and treat their employees right.
  6. Learn the difference between want and need. Needs usually fit into food, water, clothing, shelter, hygiene and a couple of personal categories that you can decide. Medical or health needs are a good example. As with everything, make sure YOU actually want the thing. With clothes, I try to think of five ways I am going to wear the item. With food, I want to make sure I am only getting enough for Logan and I to eat. Just because bulk is a better deal, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it. I’m not saying be a minimalist, I am saying materialism is harmful to the environment and your bank account.
  7. Reuse and recycle before you buy. Before you buy something new, look around your house and ask your loved ones if they have something that meets your needs.

If all else fails, remember these three words: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Shout out to my bestie, Claire, for suggesting that I write this post in the wake of the Australia fires and for being my editor on this post. There are a myriad of places you can donate, but I will list a few below.

Please also see my Low-Waste Guide for helpful links to educational resources, products and ethical fashion brands. You can also check-out my Thrift Store Guide to see my go-to secondhand shops.

Rockstar, Aussie comedian Celeste Barber is raising money for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades; donate here.

The Australian Red Cross

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors run by the Irwin family

Salvation Army of Australia

St. Vincent DePaul Society

WIRES Wildlife Rescue