Easy, Everyday Steps for Sustainability

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As human beings, we exist in a unique relationship with our mother earth, unlike any other animal. For better or for worse, our actions make a difference — both collectively and individually. 

Every time we eat wholesome food, breathe in oxygen, drink clean water, or go into nature to explore, relieve tension, and feel refreshed — those are all acts of giving, from the earth to us.

Most people are well aware of that fact — we've heard reports, seen devastating videos, and some of us have even experienced the impacts of climate change firsthand, in our local landscapes and communities. We're familiar with the science of the effects that humans have made on the fragile ecosystems around us, as well as within the planet's atmosphere, as temperatures fluctuate and continue to rise. Plastics and other non-biodegradables have also begun to clutter our communities and clog our shared waters. 

All this can feel so disheartening. We want to make a difference, but how can we, in the face of such great challenges? Can one person really change the state of the world?

At Sageborn, we believe that, yes — our individual actions matter. Starting with our own lives, we can help create the movement to energize systemic transformation. Every effort, no matter how small, is important and has worth. Your intention does not go unnoticed by this planet we are so lucky to call home. It's time to show our gratitude for mother earth and for her presence in our lives. Every time we eat wholesome food, breathe in oxygen, drink clean water, or go into nature to explore, relieve tension, and feel refreshed — those are all acts of giving, from the earth to us. We are receiving the goodness of the natural world. We can say "thank you" through the following sustainable practices.

Help care for the environment with these everyday shifts

First, let's reduce (or if possible, eliminate) our use of plastic. Not only is plastic harmful to the environment and animals, but it is also harmful to our bodies, as it can contain things like BPA and phytoestrogens that interfere with the body's natural rhythm. We might not even notice how much plastic we use, particularly single-use plastics. So, we can begin by taking a day to observe our plastic habits. Make a note of each time you use plastic, and then write down an alternative option.

Let's start where many of our days do — with coffee, tea, or whatever favorite morning beverage might be. Most coffee shops allow customers to have a custom-made drink poured into their own mug and often give a discount if you bring your own, as well! This is a win-win for everyone involved. Note that tea bags are often made with plastic, so when in doubt, we recommend going with loose-leaf and a filter, or even creating your own fun infusions at home.

Next, consider your trips to the grocery store, and other stores that commonly place purchased items in plastic rather than paper bags or cardboard boxes. Bringing reusable tote bags is a simple switch to make, and local co-ops and other markets will typically offer a discount for carrying your own. If you tend to run last-minute shopping errands, try keeping a packable, reusable bag or two in your vehicle or purse, so you're never caught empty-handed. 

Further plastic alternatives include reusable bamboo toothbrushes, where you'd change out the bristle head once a month, compared to disposable plastic toothbrushes. Bamboo hair brushes are also a much more sustainable option than plastic hair brushes. In the kitchen, we can remember to reuse containers, such as glass jars, whenever possible, in lieu of Tupperware or plastic bags. If we often grab a bite to eat or a hot or cold drink to-go, we can stash reusable cutlery or metal straws someplace we'd have easy access to them, like our bag, purse, or car. 

Another way to help the planet is to purchase products with minimal packaging, and do research on the companies that we purchase from. We love to support companies that are doing their best to save the planet through sustainable packaging processes and minimal to no plastic.

"Fast fashion," or the trendy, super affordable clothing we see from brands like Zara and H&M, can be enticing, as it speaks to the inner trend-chaser that lives within most of us. Unfortunately, these clothes tend to have a significant — and harmful — environmental and socioeconomic footprint, often invisible to us because they are mass-produced overseas. And from the first wash cycle in our laundry, these lower-quality fabrics tend to shed microparticles of polyester — aka plastic — before often ending up in the dump once they start to wear down. Luckily, many sustainable and beautiful alternatives to fast-fashion exist — from shopping local, responsible stores, to opting for upcycled clothing at a thrift or consignment store, to Google searching "ethically sourced" and "sustainable" fashion brands.

This brings us to the importance of recycling. We all know the common phrase: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. To cut down on the overwhelm when it comes to what can and what cannot be recycled, we suggest starting with the first two pointers, Reduce and Reuse, in any way that we can. The word recycling says it in itself— it is better to recycle something than to throw it into the landfill. In southwest Montana, our local recycling options tend to be somewhat limited. So, it's a good idea to know what plastics and other materials can be recycled in your area, and what materials to avoid — checking the bottoms of yogurt containers and other purchases to see if we should consider looking for a more sustainable alternative.

One of our favorite ways to help the planet is to start a garden — no matter how small. If you don't have access to outdoor green space, different edible and decorative varieties of plants can easily be grown indoors. Or, if you live in an area with a community garden project, you can share plots of land with other folks who gather together to grow fresh veggies and flowers. Sageborn's hometown of Bozeman, for example, offers three community garden plots, with lotteries held each spring for participation. In big cities, community gardens often transform unsightly or unused spaces into green and productive areas. Gardens increase the biodiversity of the local ecosystem and offer a sustainable and personally rewarding way to acquire herbs, vegetables, fruits, or flowers, depending on the environment and length of the growing season in which you live. 

Compost is another environmentally-friendly practice in which our eligible food scraps are set aside and repurposed to help create nutrient-dense soil. Gardening is a beautiful practice to begin if you're interested in getting in touch with the cycles of the natural world, and tapping into the earth's innate wisdom.

If gardening isn't up your alley, we suggest buying locally whenever possible. Buying locally or regionally decreases environmental impact by reducing the length and time that the food takes to get from the farm to your hands. Further, most local farmers use organic practices, which is the best choice for our bodies. In Bozeman, we are fortunate to have two local options for summer farmers' markets: at Bogert on Tuesday evenings and the Fairgrounds on Saturday mornings. During the long winter season, an indoor farmer's market provides ongoing access to fresh produce, baked goods, and other handmade supplies.

Finally, when you're in the market for a new car, think electric! The lack of fuel in electric cars decreases air pollution and offers a bigger bang for your buck. In the coming months and years, more and more auto manufacturers will be stepping up to the plate with great electric models of their cars, trucks, and SUVs.

When it comes to saving our planet, it's easy to feel overwhelmed sometimes and worry that our impact may not be enough. However, it starts with each one of us — and how we share our knowledge with others — to create a ripple effect in our communities.

Share this post with friends and family to get them started on a path towards a more environmentally-friendly future!

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