History in the Making

Living Sustainably, Part IV: The Inbetween

Hello, hello, and welcome back to the fourth and final piece in my series on sustainability! Throughout the writing of this series, I realised that there are a few different thoughts and suggestions of mine that didn’t fit into one particular theme or another, so I’ve decided to combine them into this post. These are all quite small and easy things that you can do, with very little expense and change to your existing life- if you are looking to start with small changes, this is the place!
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Walk, Bike, Carpool
This is a difficult suggestion for me, but I’m trying my best! I live outside of the city and have to commute in for work- it’s not optional. However, I do try my hardest to walk places while I am in the city and carpool as much as possible! When I am going out somewhere with friends, I offer to pick people up and drop them off to limit the number of cars being used for one outing. I also try and group my outings so that I can reduce the number of trips I take into the city! I also plan on using public transportation the majority of the time in Seattle when I move there.
Using Paper Towels Correctly
Using a paper towel doesn’t seem like it would be a particularly challenging task, but all of us are wasting countless paper towels for no apparent reason because we aren’t taking a moment to think about it. Joe Smith’s short TedxTalk on properly using paper towels actually blew my mind. This is less than 5 minutes but will help you cut down immediately on the number of paper towels that you are using every time you dry your hands. I saw this approximately three months ago, and I actually have been able to completely dry my hands with a single paper towel every single time I’ve used one since. THE MAGIC OF SCIENCE IS SAVING US!

Reusable Shopping Bags
Duh, obviously these were going to show up. We all know that they are out there and have probably purchased one or ten ourselves. However, there is a huge difference between buying them and actually using them. I have started leaving them in my car, and sometimes even in my purse, so that I always have them on hand. Put them by your grocery list if you need to in order to remember them, but these can make a huge difference! Yes, a lot of stores have paper bags now and that is a great step forward, but reusable bags are an even better step. I like to buy tote bags when I travel, so when I get home I am reminded of wherever I went AND can limit the number of bags I use. (The only exception for me is when I buy meat, and I typically have them place it in a produce bag.)
reusable tote bags
I hope that you have enjoyed this series, it has been a lot of fun to write and research! It’s a good way to take a look at yourself and see what changes you can make for the environment and yourself. Please share these posts with anyone you think may be interested! Here are parts one (Food), two (the Home), and three (the Wardrobe)!
What green changes are you making in your life? 
Until tomorrow,
The Historian!
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11 thoughts on “Living Sustainably, Part IV: The Inbetween”

  • I really like this series.
    I have to say though with shopping bags, they need to add a charge for them. In the UK we started having to pay for them last year and it caused a MASSIVE drop in people using them. I even heard it was down by 90%! It is only 5p (so, like 10cents) but the money goes to ocean related charities…so even if you do pay and use a disposable bag, you feel a little less bad about it.
    I am definitely guilty of owning a reusable bag and forgetting to use it…but everyone I know got better at remembering once we had to pay for the things!!
    I honestly think that policy should be rolled out all around the world to make people think.

    • We do have to pay 5c for them here in Manitoba, but I do think that might be decided by each province! With two dogs, sometimes it is helpful to have a few on hand and I’m happy to pay for them when I do use them 🙂 One of my biggest frustrations when I lived in Dublin were the paper bags though- if you live anywhere with rain, those bags are totally useless ? Still, why everyone doesn’t have to pay, I don’t know!! And why it’s so difficult to recycle them I will also never know ?

      • Oooh I didn’t realize it was just in BC that we don’t pay. I found it useful for the first few weeks while we were in a hotel (I’d re-use the bags to dispose of kitty poo) but I’ve gone back to trying to remember my own shopping bags now we have a place to live!
        Those paper bags *are* annoying in the rain…but when I was growing up there were always plastic bags littering the countryside out in Connemara. Since people started paying for bags, there are faaaaar fewer. Less turn up in the sand at the beaches too! So I guess on rainy days people just have to remember their own bags!!

  • I worked with a guy at the children’s museum who taught us that method with the papertowels! I am so ashamed to admit that I stopped doing it, because I hated the idea of being next to someone shaking their questionably clean hands next to me! I also got lazy ?. It’s no excuse, though…

  • I figuratively put my head down, disgusted with myself when reading this. Like an eye exam, I know it’s good for me, I know I need to do it, but don’t! I’ll be real, this is how bad I am: I literally pay every month for a recycling bin….and don’t use it. I’m such a jerk b/c I feel like I’m saving the Earth by reusing our plastic shopping bags from Kroger in our tiny waste paper baskets. Yes, I’m going to hell. I really should focus more on this. Thank you for this post!

    • I was 100% like that for YEARS!! We had a professional development day at work a few years back and I somehow ended up at the talk from the sustainability office, and it wasn’t until I had heard 2 straight hours on the easiest ways to go green did I even think about it!! And it has taken me quite some time to get where I’m at, and I’ve still a ways to go ? I need to start composting but I’m afraid of worms ???

  • There are also foldable reusable shopping bags now, so you can easily have one in your purse/backpack/car/wherever at all times! It’s been a lifesaver for me!

    • I find the thin foldable ones aren’t great for substantial shopping but they are perfect for when you are stopping for something quick and really don’t need a plastic bag for two items but it’s awkward to carry them!!

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