“Live simply, live green” are words to live by, according to author and eco-blogger Jen Chillingsworth. Fittingly, Live Greenis also the title of her inspiring new book on sustainability, which features 52 simple ways to reduce your impact on the environment. Here are five of her best tips, so you can be more eco-conscious—starting with at home.
Plants will help you transform your home into a green oasis, because they’re calming, beautiful and act as a natural air filtration system. According to NASA’s seminal 1989 clean air study, some plants actually help remove toxins from indoor environments.
As Chillingsworth notes in her book, some plants help clean your air better than others and she (and NASA) recommends starting with snake plants, spider plants, peace lilies, Boston ferns, weeping figs and ivy to beautify your space. Elevate your houseplants with planters that match your home’s aesthetic or reuse objects bound for the bin, such as old teacups (great for succulents), wicker baskets or coffee cans (if you like a rustic, found object look).
Keep your home smelling fresh with scented solutions that are good for you, your family and the environment. If candles are your go-to, Chillingsworth says to look for products made from soy wax, beeswax, canola or coconut oil (try brands like Magnolia Home or Indigo Scents) that are better for the planet than candles made with paraffin wax.
Once your candles burn out, be sure to reuse those beautiful containers—they’re perfect for holding jewellery or household odds and ends. High-quality essential oils are another way to infuse your home with fragrance—all you need is a diffuser and your favourite scent to get started.
When it comes to cutting down on food waste, a little planning goes a long way. And it’s essential, too—more than half of all food produced in Canada ends up in a landfill. To help divert good, healthy food away from the trash can, plan your meals in advance and head to the grocery store with a list of exactly what you need for the week. Chillingsworth writes her list on her phone’s Notes app and deletes each item as she adds it to her cart.
For nourishing recipes, look to cookbooks like Damn Delicious Meal Prep, Modern Lunch or Healthyish for inspiration. Consider doubling your recipe, so you have a few meals in one and store those leftovers in containers or wrap them up in reusable beeswax wrap, instead of plastic.
Once you start planning ahead, you’ll be able to pack those leftovers for lunch in a glass container, stainless steel bento box or Stasher bag. And if you are bringing a lunch bag, be sure to take your reusable water bottle to work or school, too.
A morning cup of joe or afternoon tea are simple pleasures that bring joy to your daily life. Make this me-time ritual greener by choosing an eco-friendly brewing method. If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee, invest in a Chemex coffeemaker and metal mesh filter that you can use again and again. If you don’t have a reusable filter, use non-bleached paper filters that can be composted along with your coffee grounds. A French press brews an incredibly flavourful cup of coffee that doesn’t require a filter. Best of all, you can use it for both coffee and tea.
If you favour tea over coffee, Chillingsworth recommends buying loose leaf. To brew it, use a teapot with a built-in filter, a metal or silicone infuser or make your own reusable tea bags with unbleached, food grade cotton muslin. If you don’t want to go the DIY route, look for paper tea bags that can be composted.
For those times when you’re on the go, be sure to bring your travel mug. Many coffee shops will give you a modest discount if you decline the to-go cup.
Take your cue from Marie Kondo and clean out your closet, keeping only the items that spark joy—or the pieces you truly love to wear. Everything else can be donated. Chillingsworth suggests taking things one step further by building a capsule wardrobe, a.k.a. an edited closet with a handful of timeless items you love (think separates that can be easily mixed and matched to create a variety of polished looks). Focus on classic pieces that you can wear year after year—like a great handbag or an ethically-made robe. Not only does this process take away the stress of choosing what to wear every morning, but it also helps you be mindful of what you’re purchasing.
Once you’ve pared down your closet, you’ll quickly see what gaps you need to fill (perhaps you need a new shirt or a versatile scarf. When you do add something new to your collection, look for eco-friendly brands, such as Parkland, which crafts its bags out of recycled water bottles. Even if you’re shopping more purposefully, you don’t need to edit all of your clothes. Consider putting some of your items in storage and swap them out seasonally, or whenever you’re inspired to create a new capsule collection.