( r e )define your life: 6 tips from ( r e )ˣ to live more sustainably starting today, no purchase necessary

Sustainability is everywhere these days.

You’re bombarded with Instagram ads touting a brand's sustainability, only to go to their page and find absolutely no explanation.

Everyone loves to talk about how great and eco-friendly it is to use a reusable bag and carry a water bottle. But then you get on TikTok or YouTube and you can easily go down a rabbit hole about why sustainability isn’t YOUR responsibility. how your actions don’t matter at all.

It’s conflicting, it’s intense, and frankly, it’s exhausting. Right?

You just want to live more sustainably, but you don’t know how to get started!

The sheer amount of information (and opinions) can leave you overwhelmed not knowing where to even begin.

This piece covers 6 things you can do *literally* right now, without buying anything, to help you begin — and follow through with — your own sustainability journey.

What Is Sustainability?

Let’s get back to the basics first. The actual definition of sustainability is to do something in such a way that can be maintained on a long-term basis. Get the UN definition here

  • Is your new diet sustainable? 
  • Is your workout routine sustainable?  The same applies to sustainability in terms of the environment. 
  • Are we treating the planet in a way that makes sense for the long term? 
  • Will future generations benefit from what we’re doing now?
  • Are we setting up practices and mindsets that will help future generations? 

    Right there we can see that there’s a lot involved in sustainability. It’s a collective mindset, it’s how we all work together as one. But anything good that ever happened had to start somewhere — and that’s where you come in.

    What Is the Single Biggest Thing You Can Do Right Now To Be More Sustainable?

    Use what you already have! 

    It’s actually quite simple. And if you don’t have everything you need, when you do get it, look for something that will last you a long time.

    6 Ways To Be More Sustainable, Starting Now!

    There are many tips, tricks, and hacks for being sustainable. We could easily make 7 listicles right now, but if you don’t have the basics down, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up. It’s not your fault, it’s the information you’ve been given! 

    Give these 6 steps a try and watch your sustainability journey unfold! 

    You see this a lot in sustainability and with ‘sustainability influencers’ because it works. What are your reasons for pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle? 

    • Do you want to do something good for the community? 
    • Do you want to see cleaner water? 
    • Do you want to leave the planet a better place for your kids/grandchildren/ future generations?
    • Are you tired of seeing green space being converted into luxury apartments?

      Having a reason (or two) helps you stick to your goals. It holds you accountable for what really matters to you and it makes it easier to share with other people.

      At ( r e )ˣ  our ‘why’ is that we want to see less plastic pollution. Less single-use plastic, less plastic waste, and less plastic in our oceans.

      2. Observe Your Habits

      The first step before you try to change is simply to observe. 

      Keep track of them in a notebook, in a note on your phone, or just a mental note. Try it for 30 days and see what you notice. 

      Here are a few examples to get you started:

      • How often do you use 2-day shipping?
        • Challenge: Try to cut it in half next month
      • How quickly do you buy something when you decide you want it? 
        • Challenge: Wait 30 days next time (as long as it's not a necessity)
      • How many items in your wardrobe do you actually wear? 
        • Challenge: Turn your hangers around each time you wear something. Head to your closet before purchasing something new. 
      • How many times do you accidentally use a plastic grocery bag? 
        • Challenge: Start carrying a reusable one
      • How often do you use single-use plastics? 
        • Challenge: Try swapping one item at a time for reusables (not all at once now)

        3. Prioritize Your Values

        While you’re observing your habits, notice which ones are most frustrating and which ones make you feel like you’re ‘doing something bad.’ Additionally, try to identify what your biggest sustainability concern is/are. 

        • Is it sustainability itself? 
        • Is it water usage? 
        • Is it food waste?
        • Is it fast fashion?
        • Is it recycling?
        • Is it how much plastic you use?

          Find and try to rank what values or priorities are the biggest triggers for you. Think about which ones you would like to change first and which ones would be the easiest to do. 

          We’ll come back to this list in the next step. 

          4. Get Started With 1 Thing

          Using the list you made in step #3, whenever you’re ready to get started, pick 1 thing first.

          Depending on how much you have going on, maybe you pick 1-2 values and 1 habit to work on first. Whatever it is, set yourself up for success! 

          • If your concern is plastic, try incorporating more reusables
          • If your concern is food waste, look into composting
          • If your concern is fast fashion, see what you already own, how much you shop, and come up with a plan to change. 

            When you’re passionate about sustainability it can be difficult to slow down and separate it all, we get it! But really taking the time to put your thoughts in order can help you stick to it! 

            Here’s a tip: When doing these exercises, think about them as if you were explaining it to someone else. It might help you express yourself better! 

            5. Think Before You Buy

            Under no circumstances did we say these 6 things would be easy! But #5 on our list involves putting a little more thought into purchases. 

            Listen, it’s easy to click right over to Amazon from a BuzzFeed article listing the top 35 gadgets you need in your kitchen, but resist! 

            Before you make any further purchases, ask yourself: 

            • Do you need it right now?
            • Does it bring you joy? Will it continue to bring you joy? 
            • Can you replace it with something else in the meantime?
            • If you’re replacing something, can you replace it with something that will last longer?

              6. Shop Better

              This is a hard one but a very real one. After you’ve asked yourself the questions from above, think about where you’re getting your items from.

              If you have to get them on Amazon, choose a longer shipping time. 

              Shop Local

              • When was the last time you went to Main street? 
              • If you live in a city, when was the last time you frequented a small business? 

                Farmer’s Market

                They’re on weekends really early in the morning, but it might be worth it! 

                • If you can’t get to a farmer’s market, try a food co-op instead!
                • If you can’t do either of those, is there a butcher you could try out? 

                  Shop By Values

                  Support brands that care about the same things you do! Maybe they: 

                  • Take back empties to properly recycle them
                  • Don’t use single-use plastic
                  • Are a 1% for the planet member or a certified B corp
                  • Use renewable energy. 


                    There are so many options available, so many brands you could choose to buy from. So when you do make a purchase, your money matters

                    You’re not only telling a brand you like their product, but you’re also telling them you like what they’re doing and what they stand for. The more money they get the bigger voice they have to help others stand up for their values. 


                    TL;DR

                    What’s the secret of starting to live a more sustainable life? Go slow, do your research ahead of time, start with one to two things, and be prepared to make mistakes. You’re not perfect, none of us are! We’re all out here trying to make things better, together. 

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