Sustainable Swaps

Now, more than ever, we are being called to save this planet. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of global warming; whether it’s government-controlled, one of the biggest issues our planet is facing right now, or just not a thing, it’s evident that things are changing rapidly for the worst.

grayscale photography of a factory
Photo by Karl Gerber on
  • Wildfires in CA: In 2020, there were 330 fires in January that damaged of 1,178 acres of land. This is more than double the number of fires in 2019, where there were 157 fires in January and the loss of 110 acres of land. As Ron Burgundy would say, “That escalated quickly!”. The scale of fires jumped and these wildfires displace hundreds of families and caused smog that spread for miles.

I have had experience with the extreme smog these fires produce. In 2017, shortly after achieving my Master’s in Film & Media in Burbank, CA, I relocated to San Francisco. During that wildfire season, the Bay air was so thick with smog, you would have thought there was COVID-19 because everyone had on a face mask outside. It was reported that those fires caused the deaths of 44 people and the destruction of 8,400 structures including homes and businesses.

  • Fast Fashion: More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so if and when our clothing ends up in a landfill (about 85 percent of textile waste in the United States goes to landfills or is incinerated), it will not decay. Nor will the synthetic microfibers that end up in the sea, freshwater and elsewhere, including the deepest parts of the oceans and the highest glacier peaks. Future archaeologists may look at landfills taken over by nature and discover evidence of Zara.

Our footprint on this planet grows by the day and it doesn’t seem like there is much that we can do to decrease it, but that’s not true. We need to make a conscious decision to be more sustainable for this planet. I am doing my part in little ways, because believe it or not, the little things matter, and those are the things that tend to add up the most. I have found some simple swaps for a more sustainable life.

Sustainable Swap Suggestions:

1. Thrifting for fashion

Thrift for clothing and household items. Thrift stores are a treasure trove of hidden vintage gems. They have been a saving grace to the lower and middle class for decades and they’re not going anywhere. In fact, they’re trending. In my childhood; the late 90s, early 2000s, it was considered uncool to have parents that shopped at the thrift store and made you wear Keds. Nowadays, my YouTube feed is riddled with, “Come thrift with me” videos, even in the midst of Covid!

It may seem like an odd thing to do, buying someone else’s old clothing in the midst of a pandemic where everyone is finally washing their hands the way they should have pre-pandemic, but that’s what gloves, Lysol, washing machines, and antibacterial laundry detergent are for. When we clean the things we bring into our homes to wear and use, we are merely doing our part as responsible adults.

Thrift stores such as Goodwill (also known as GCF), Out of the Closet, Plato’s Closet, Rumors, and Buffalo Exchange are just a few examples of great places to find amazing pieces for affordable prices. The latter mentioned stores also offer the option of trading or selling your clothes for store credit or cash at a percentage. Pretty cool right? Google the nearest thrift store/consignment shop near you, there’s a whole world of thrifted greatness for you to explore!

2. Replace biodegradable containers for plastic containers

There are so many packaging options when shopping for household cleaning items: sealed plastic bags, boxy plastic containers, plastic spray bottles,etc. These plastics don’t break down so wonderfully and I’ve honestly never seen the results of a recycled detergent bottle, but nowadays, there are so many companies producing sustainable options, that you can’t help but consider the options.

Brands like Patch (Natural bamboo strip bandages), Planet Pods (Compostable pods and powder), and Huppy (Organic toothpaste tablets) are a few examples of sustainable companies that I have had great experience with and I highly recommend them to others. These companies have found marketable and reasonably affordable ways to produce sustainable and even biodegradable products for rooms like the kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.

How great would you feel if you knew that your kitchen and bathroom counters were being cleaned by eco friendly cleaners free of toxic chemicals? Wouldn’t it give you peace of mind to know that the sponges you’re using are biodegradable? It gives me peace of mind, and these are just a few ethically sourced brands of household cleaning items. Please feel free to scour the internet for some other brands that I haven’t listed here today, we have a world to save!

3. Repurpose instead of recycling

Our recyclables, like plastic bottles and plastic bags have a way of making it out into the ocean. A solution to this issue is to find a way to repurpose them in your homes and lives. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately into the world of crafting. There are so many crafts to try that it can seem overwhelming to choose, but one craft that caught my eye was crochet crafts and there are so many things you can crochet. Would you believe, however, that one source of material could be the very same plastic bags that you probably have a hefty supply of in your kitchen pantry?

I didn’t believe it, at least until I saw it come together before my very eyes. I scrolled through page after page of plarn (plastic yarn) content and came across some ideas that I’m eager to try out for myself. Here is a quick video below of a few things you could do with plarn.

Now that you’ve gotten some tips on how to contribute to the health of our planet, it’s time you choose a swap that fits best into your life. Maybe you can tell me about some of your results! Remember, when we all do our part, the world truly can become a better place for us all.


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