Sustainable Living Basics: Simple Steps to Make an Impact | Kathryn Kellogg | Skillshare

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Sustainable Living Basics: Simple Steps to Make an Impact

teacher avatar Kathryn Kellogg, Blogger, Author, Activist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Power of One Person


    • 3.

      Exercise: What’s in Your Trash?


    • 4.

      Making Simple Swaps


    • 5.

      Field Trip: Grocery Shopping


    • 6.

      Building Healthier Habits


    • 7.

      Rethinking Your Products


    • 8.

      Consuming Consciously


    • 9.

      Field Trip: Secondhand Shopping


    • 10.

      Growing Your Impact


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


    • 12.

      Bonus: Kathryn’s Story


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About This Class

Want to make a difference for the environment, but not sure how? You have the power to make small changes in your life—and a whole bunch of people making small changes adds up to a massive impact!

Discover a simple, personalized approach to sustainability that proves how easy it can be to reduce your footprint on the planet, no matter your lifestyle or budget. Guided by author and activist Kathryn Kellogg, you’ll gain a flexible framework for building sustainability into your existing routine—while finding contentment in making better, not perfect, choices. 

Easy-to-follow lessons include how to:

  • Switch your mindset from discouraged to empowered
  • Discover simple swaps based on the contents of your trash (yes, really!)
  • Shop strategically for clothes, groceries, and household products
  • Build long-term habits that save time, energy, and money
  • Communicate effectively to grow your impact beyond yourself

Plus, Kathryn reveals her favorite tips and tricks for sustainable shopping no matter where you live, with lessons on location at her local supermarket and secondhand store.

This 50-minute class is packed with actionable tips, hand-picked resources, and endless encouragement you can return to again and again. By the end, you’ll unlock new creative energy and leave empowered to make choices that add up to a positive impact for yourself, your community, and your planet!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kathryn Kellogg

Blogger, Author, Activist


Founder of, author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste, and the spokesperson for plastic-free living for National Geographic, Kathryn Kellogg breaks down zero waste living into a super simple process with lots of positivity and love!

A breast cancer scare in her early 20's prompted Kathryn to experiment with a more holistic lifestyle. This was the spark she needed to realize how intrinsically linked health and wellness of the self is to the health and the wellness of the planet.

Kathryn started her blog to help others improve their personal health, improve the health of the planet, and most importantly realize that their choices matter. Big or small, the changes we make as individuals add up to a huge ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: One of my favorite things about zero-waste living is that it encouraged me to be really really creative and sometimes that's just taking 30 seconds to think is there a better way? I'm Catherine Kellogg. I'm the founder of going, author of a 101 ways to go zero waste and the spokes for plastic free living for National Geographic. Today's class is all about living a more sustainable life. There's no one right way to be sustainable. There's not a certain way you have to live. You don't have to wear a bunch of hemp or live in a tree house. You can take all of these principles and find a way to make it perfect for you and perfect for exactly the way that you want to live. When we talk about living more sustainably, it's really about cutting out a lot of waste. It's about cutting out the excess. It's about focusing on the things that are truly important to you. In today's class, we are going to be going over simple swaps and then we're going to move into how to be a better consumer. I'm going to teach you small ways that you can make better choices and then lastly, we'll be covering ways that you can be an activist in your own town. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be a leader in an environmental movement, I would have laughed. To be honest. I thought taking the time to recycle or pick up litter was a waste of time and that it didn't matter. If you leave this class with one big takeaway, the number one thing I want you to know is that what you do matters and how you live your life has a ripple effect on the others and the environment around you. Really, excited that you're here to learn with me about sustainable living. Let's get started. 2. The Power of One Person: The first thing I want to do is I want to take a step back and I really want to talk about what sustainability means. We hear it all the time, right? It's this total buzzword. But there are so many different ways that you can be sustainable. It doesn't matter what your current lifestyle looks like. Sustainability is something that you can have work for you. One of the things I love about sustainability is that it influences every single area of your life, whether that's clothing, or makeup, or your food, or how you shop. There are so many different ways that you can make sustainable choices. For me personally, I live a zero waste lifestyle. Zero waste living is just one of the tools that I use to help me make better, more sustainable choices. The simple definition is to send nothing to a landfill. But the more complex definition that I personally really like is to completely write waste out of existence. Because when we think about waste, there's so much more than what we just put in our trash can, right? I mean, you can have a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of resources, or a waste of money. I want to assure you, as we go through this class, we will find ways for you to save time, save money, save resources, not only for yourself, but also for the planet. So I want to bust a few myths. Is sustainable living expensive, time-consuming, and do you have to be perfect? The answer is no. Every choice you make has some impact. So just go ahead and forget about being perfect right off the bat because there's no perfect choice, you can't make a perfect choice for the environment. You can only make a better choice. So we're going to be talking a lot about better choices. As far as time-consuming goes, when you truly switch over to a zero waste lifestyle or a minimalistic lifestyle, where anything that takes the focus off of material items and onto something that is more personal and more internal, your life is going to be much more streamlined. You're going to be much more focused on the things that truly bring you joy. You're cutting off all the excess and really focusing on the things that truly matter. For me, this was really manifested in my own life as just being a lot more present because I'm not busy worrying about other things because I just felt really content in my own life and with my own choices in what I'm doing. Thankfully now with technology, living sustainably has never been easier. First up, we're going to do a trash audit, which is going to be a lot of fun. We're going to go through your trash can. Then after that, we're going to go over a few simple slops, small things that you can change today. After that, you're going to come with me to the grocery store. I'm really excited. I'm going to show you how you can make more eco-friendly choices to not only reduce your packaging waste, but also talk about what's on your plate because that can have a huge impact. After that, we're going to talk about a few different ways that you can make some small lifestyle habits around the home. Then we'll talk all about different ways that you can be a conscious consumer. These are small changes that you can make and different ways to audit brands and know that you're going to be making a sustainable choice for the planet. Then we're going to take another field trip, where we're going to go secondhand shopping because I am shopping for a new parky dress. The last part of this class, which is my absolute favorite, we're going to be going over different ways that you can grow your impact. This is the way that you can take the sustainability message outside yourself and share it with your friends, your family, and your community. So now that we're done with this first lesson, I hope that you're ready to get a little bit active because it's time to go through your trash. 3. Exercise: What’s in Your Trash?: For our first step, we're going to do a trash audit. Trash audits are really common practice that businesses do. So typically when you hear waste audit, it's actually something that most businesses do to identify where they're wasting because when you waste something, that typically means there's something that you could change in order to save money. So doing a waste audit is a really common principle. We're just taking it from the business world and applying it to our personal lives. What you're going to do is go get your trashcan and don't forget your bathroom trashcan too. Then what you're going to do, you're going to dump it out and you're going go through it, and then you're going to make categories. So every single item that you come in contact with, you're going to want to write down. There is a worksheet below that you can print out and use as you do this exercise. So every single item you encounter, you're going to write down a one line and if you encounter it a second time, you're going to add a tally mark. Then at the end, you're going to want to look at the items that have the most amount of tally marks because that's where you're personally going to want to start reducing your waste. This is because this is where you will see the biggest wins. I find as you're beginning, this is a really good practice to get in the habit of. Of course, if you don't want to dump your trash out constantly, you could also just have a clipboard nearby, write down what you're throwing away. In that way, have a really good picture of what things you actually need to tackle, and the rest of the class is going to help you tackle the most common items that you might found in your waste audit. If there's something that we don't cover in the class, be sure to pop over and ask a question with a class discussion board because I'm sure there'll be many people ready to help you brainstorm and figure out solutions. Now I know that I didn't mention your recycling bin. But honestly, this would be an excellent practice for your recycling bin too because our current recycling system is a little bit in turmoil. As of January 2018, China stopped accepting all of our plastic and paper waste with a contamination rate over one percent. Contamination happens when you have the wrong item in the wrong bin or you have the right item in the right bin in the wrong way. What I mean by that is, your recyclables are dirty. The fact is we can't really recycle dirty items. Recycling is a business and it's really, really important to remember that as we're going through this class because it depends on market and it depends on our recyclables being cleaned, so that way businesses can bought them and reuse them for their own products. Something like a yogurt container. If it has yogurt left over in it, it can actually get the yogurt on the paper, and paper cannot be recycled If it is dirty or if it has food on it. So you're actually contaminating what could be an entire bale. Because you recycled it improperly, it could actually mess up recyclables from hundreds of other people. So it's really, really important that you're recycling correctly, and one of the best ways to figure out what that means, is to go to your waste management website and seen what they accept. So now it's your turn, go ahead and print out that PDF down below, do your trash on it, and then go to your waste management website, whoever handles your waste management, and double check to make sure that you are recycling correctly. In the next lesson, we'll be going over simple swaps. 4. Making Simple Swaps: The first thing we're going to tackle are some easy, simple swaps. You might have found a few of these in your trash audit, but these are four items that make a lot of trash typically out of the home on the go. They're going to be super easy to change, and these are going to be some small wins for you to get immediately under your belt and make you feel great about the next lessons we're going to go into. Up first, we're going to talk about straws. For most people, straws are completely unnecessary. So if you're out at a restaurant, you can just ask for your order without a straw. It's really something that's very easy to do. My recommendation to you is to practices your drink order 20 times, that way are automatically in the habit of saying, "I would like a water, no straw please." However, I do personally really enjoy drinking out of a straw especially at home. So I have one that is glass. They make them in many different materials: bamboo, glass, silicon, stainless steel, you name it. Up next is reusable grocery bags. We all know that we should be bringing our own reusable grocery bags to the store. The biggest problem is that most of us just forget. So I'm going to give you a few hacks to make sure that you remember to bring yours. These are my go to grocery bags. The best way for me to remember them is to simply think through my day. I know that I walk by the grocery store on Tuesdays. So whenever I leave the house on Tuesday, I'm always thinking, "I should probably bring my reusable grocery bags." I still remember the first time that I really committed to living a life with less waste. I went to the grocery store on International Plastic Bag Free Day, yes, that is actually a day, without my reusable grocery bags. At that moment, I had to ask myself, "Are you truly committed? Are you really going to do this? Or are you going to go in there on International Plastic Bag Free Day, no less, and get plastic grocery bags?" So I turned around, I went home, and I got my own bags. I have to say creating that small little pain point taught myself a very important lesson. To this day, before I leave, I always ask myself, do I need a grocery bag? So if you can get into the habit of asking that to yourself before you leave, I promise you will start bringing them much more frequently, and of course, if you still forget all the time, they make them that clip onto your key ring. That way, they will always be with you. The last swap that we're going to talk about is coffee cups and water bottles. I have grouped both of these together because sometimes you can get away with only carrying one bottle. So coffee cups as we know, the lids are plastic, they are plastic number 6 which is polystyrene. But we most often see as Styrofoam, which is a known carcinogen and we're sipping hot liquids through it. So honestly, it's probably not the best thing. Coffee cups are also lined with plastic, making them virtually impossible two recycle. In order to actually recycle a coffee cup, they have to have a special piece of machinery to remove the plastic lining so they can recycle the paper. That's crazy. The only thing actually recyclable on the coffee cup is the sleeve. So instead, you can avoid that altogether by simply bringing your own thermos to the coffee shop. But I also like to have an insulated water bottle. What's great about the insulated water bottle is that it keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. So I actually fill this up with my water whenever I leave. But if I want to get coffee when I'm out, all I have to do is take the lid off, hand to the barista, I can get my coffee or my tea to go in here, put the lid back on, and I'm good to go. This way, I don't have to carry two items on me. One of the best ways to remember to bring your reusable water bottle with you is just to have a simple checklist. For me personally, and I'm sure many of you as well, have a checklist that goes phone, wallet, keys. So I would encourage you to add water to your list. Phone, wallet, water, keys. You have all four of those things, you're good to go, you can leave your house. If I ever have a really small handbag where I can't really fit a giant bottle like this, instead I typically just bring a flask. You might get some really funny looks, but you'll be hydrated, and you won't be producing any trash, and you can feel good about that. So these were our four first easy swaps. If you want to commit to one of these big four, make it your mission this week to completely avoid that type of disposable item. Next lesson, we'll be going to the grocery store, so we can see a few of these swaps in action. 5. Field Trip: Grocery Shopping: Today, we are here grocery shopping at the Monterey Market. I'm going to share with you a few tips and tricks on ways that you can reduce your packaging waste and shop for a little bit more of a sustainable plate. I feel really fortunate to have a local market like this that's pretty close to where I live. The tips I'm going to be sharing with you today though, can transfer to Safeway or Kroger or Raley's or any other type of grocery store that you have. With me, of course, I've got my big grocery bag for all of my groceries. But on top of that I have got my produce bags, which are really going to come in handy. I find one of the best ways to prevent food waste is to make sure that your grocery shopping with a list, which, of course, I have with me right here. I wrote down a few of the meals that I'd be interested in eating this week, made note of all of the ingredients I already had, and which ones I needed to pickup. I also made a little notation next to the food that I already have waiting in my fridge for me to eat to make sure that I prioritize those meals first. The worst thing would be to buy new food and let those groceries that I already have go to waste. When it comes to figuring out which foods that you want to buy, it can be really confusing with all of the labels. Do you go for organic, do you go for low holds, do you go for the produce wrapped in plastic, do you go for the produce not wrapped in plastic? It can be really difficult to make a perfect choice. I just want you to know there is no perfect choice, it's all about doing the best that you can and take it in stride. Over time, you'll realize which products you want to buy, which ones work best for you and your budget, and which ones work best for you and your lifestyle. I've got my list, and now it's time to go shopping. When it comes to buying produce, most of our produce doesn't even make it on the store shelves because it's misshaped. One of the best things that you can do is look for the produce that is wonky and make sure that you take it home. For instance, whenever it comes to peppers, most grocery stores will not accept a pepper unless it stands up straight. One of the reasons that I really like this market is that they prioritize making sure that we have wonky looking vegetables because these taste just as delicious, even though most of the time they might be thrown out. This is the discount rack, you'll find these in a lot of grocery stores and this is one of the best places that you can buy produce. Not only is it discounted, but you are going to be saving it from going to the landfill. So much of our food goes to landfill unnecessarily. Grab a bargain, and even though it's wrapped in plastic, it's still the more eco-friendly choice. Over here we've got a giant basket of lonely bananas. These are the bananas that aren't in a bunch, there all alone. Most traditional groceries at the end of the night, will go through and find all of the single bananas and just throw them away just because they are alone. Bananas typically travel really far, meaning that their emission cost is pretty high. If you are shopping for bananas, make sure that you pick up a single one so it will no longer be alone. When it comes to reducing packaging waste when I shop, one of the best things I do as I shop from the bulk bins. I put the food in my own container, I take this picture of the PLUs, that way I don't have to use any trash and I can bring it up at the front. But most of time when it comes to shopping in the bulk bins, the food gets into the bulk bin in really large packages like this. What's great about this is it reduces the packaging waste overall. If you were to buy a bunch of small one-pound bags, it would be more packaging than if the bulk bin provides it in these giant plastic bags. But also if you don't have bulk bins available to you, you don't have to feel guilty because the food doesn't magically appear in these bins. It gets in the bins in a bag as well. When it comes to getting breakfast, I absolutely love having bagels in the morning. This is really simple. I have a closed weave bag. When you are buying things with your own bags, you want to make sure that the weave is closed. This is an open weave, so dust and particles can get all over the grocery stores, the conveyor belt, your grocery cart, you want to make sure that you have a close weave bags, that way you won't injure anyone if anyone has a severe allergy. I've got all of the groceries that I need for the week. I'm going to go home and I'm going to show you how I store them without using plastic and ways that you can make sure that your produce lasts for a really long time to avoid food waste. 6. Building Healthier Habits: Now that we're back from the grocery store, I wanted to talk a little bit about why we started here. When it comes to shopping, probably the thing that you shop for the absolute most is going to be groceries. Most of us go grocery shopping every single week, and it's one of the best ways that we can have a positive impact on the planet. Not only how we buy our groceries, but, of course, also what we put on the plate. As you went through your trash audit, you might have noticed quite a bit of food waste. For me, that was one of the number one areas that I was really struggling with. So by simply making a list and making sure that I knew exactly what I was going to be buying, being aware of what I already had my pantry, writing out a few different meals that I might want to eat for the week, I was able to have a really positive impact in that way. So one of the best ways to prevent food waste is to simply make sure that we are storing our groceries properly. I like to use glass jars not only because they're very aesthetically pleasing, but it's great because I can look at a jar and immediately know how much food I have inside that container. When it comes to produce, we want to make sure that we are storing our produce properly. When it comes to greens, my favorite way to store them is inside of a glass container with a small cloth napkin on top and then have a lid. This prevents any excess air and any excess moisture from getting inside of those greens, and they will stay crisp for up to two weeks. When it comes to other produce items, I really like to display them and put them out. So that way, they're easily within reach. You're going to want to make sure things like zucchinis or peppers or eggplants, make sure that you just keep those out in the open, and that way, you can see them, grab them, and make sure that you use them up. One of the best ways to make sure that you're actually using your produce, instead of throwing it in the trash can or compost, is to prep it just a little. I find that when I come home from the grocery store, immediately dicing, chopping, and getting a few things that are easy and ready for me to throw into my meals is one of the best ways to make sure that I actually cook at home rather than going out to eat. You might have noticed in my grocery hall that most of the items I bought are plant-based, meaning grains, legumes plants, of course. That's because eating plant-based is one of the best choices you can make for the environment. Now, I am by no means going to tell anyone exactly how their diet should be, but the average American eats three-quarters of a pound of meat every single day. That is a lot. That's really taxing on the environment, and it's not super great for our health. So one of the best things you can do is simply shift your plates so it's very, very plant-forward. When you think about things like land use and water use, something like a pound of beef will take 1,900 gallons of water for one pound of beef. Whereas something like tofu, it only takes 300 gallons of water for one pound of tofu. When we prioritize plant-based foods, we're going to be using fewer resources. I do love getting takeout. Honestly, I personally feel like there's nothing better than like getting takeout and watching a movie at home. That's like my ideal night. So one of the ways I do that to create a little bit less ways is I often will go and pick my food up to go, and I'll bring my own container, which might sound absolutely terrifying, but I promise it's really easy. I'm going to tell you the secret. The secret is that you don't ask. You just very politely tell someone exactly what they're going to do. But if you just tell them what they're going to do and say, "Hey, I would really like that to go in here," present your container, smile, there'll be Jedi mind tricked into doing exactly what you say. I have about a 98 percent success rate. I love to go and get Chinese food or Indian food or even go get a salad at the local cafe right around the corner. Composting is one of my personal favorite things because it is amazing for the environment. Composting is one of the best things that you can do. You would think that when he throw organic matter into the landfill, that it would break down, but it doesn't. That's because landfills aren't aerated for the proper decomposition of organic matter. If you really want to make a huge impact on the amount of waste that you're throwing out, composting is a great place to start because on average, 50 percent of a household's waste is actually made up of organic matter. When I say organic matter, I mean things like hair from your hair brush or nail clippings or, of course, your food scraps like apple cores and watermelon rinds and eggshells and, of course, things like soiled paper. So if you have something like a greasy pizza box, that is actually a great addition into your compost. There are so many different options for composting, but I'm going to go over my top three, which are pretty foolproof. So the first one, the one that I currently use right now, is I'm very fortunate that my city picks my compost up. If your city offers composting, they typically provide a small bin, and they'll pick it up on your regular trash day. That's what I do. Of course, there might be a business that will actually offer that service for you. I know that there are many around. It's really, really great because they will drop a bucket off at your house. You'll fill it with your food scraps. It will come by, pick it up, turn it into a nutrient rich soil. If you need compost at anytime, you can always give them a call, and they can drop compost off at your door. The second really easy way is a tumble bin. This is great if you have a small balcony or a backyard. It stands up off the ground. They're not super big. Get one that has two compartment, and that way, you can put your food scraps in one compartment. As soon as it's full, you can start putting your food scraps in the second compartment. It's got a little crank so you can turn it. It'll aerate it and keep everything moving. So that way, the compost will break down into soil pretty quickly in about two months. The last way, which is the one of the best recommendations I can give you if you have an apartment, is a Bokashi bin. This bin is really small. It's not very big. It easily fit underneath your sink. They use enzymes to digest the food scraps. You can put anything in there. You can put your cheese, you can put your meat, you can put all of your vegetable scraps in, and then you add in the enzymes, and it will eat it. It's so cool. However, you will have to have a place to bury the compost after that. So one of the best things I can suggest is an app. There's an app called Shareways where you go on and say that you have compost that needs to be snapped up. I can promise you someone will definitely be there to get it. Of course, if you have any houseplants, they would love that snack too. For more information on what can and can't be composted, be sure to check out the class resources. Of course, you can also check out my blog, I've got a full guide on composting and apartments even if you don't have a balcony and composting in your backyard. So I have three challenges for you today. You can pick any one of the three or all three if you're feeling like it. The next time you go to the grocery store, I encourage you to check out your package-free food and try a new plant-based meal. The second one would be to identify which composting system would work best for you and your lifestyle. The last challenge is, next time you're out of the cafe and you want to get your coffee to go, bring your thermos and tell them politely with a smile to put it inside of your own reusable thermos. In the next lesson, we'll be talking all about simple swaps that you can make around your home to make it a little bit more sustainable. 7. Rethinking Your Products: Congrats on making it this far, we are a little more than halfway through, which means you're probably seeing some really awesome impacts in your own life. I'm really excited because we're going to start today where I started, which is with cleaning products. Cleaning companies legally do not have to disclose the ingredients that are inside of their product. For instance, for Breeze is marketed as only having four ingredients when the EWG found that there were over 80 different things inside of a Breeze bottle. I started by switching cleaning products because it seemed like something that was so easy, something that was so doable, and something that was very inexpensive because there are all these mystery ingredients. I wanted to find a really simple way of making sure that I was making healthier choices for my home, and this is where I just chose a start because you don't normally have a ton of cleaning products. Whereas, food might be a little overwhelming because there's so much going on there, the bathroom might be a little overwhelming because there's so much going on there. Cleaning products seems like a really easy first win for me. My favorite cleaning product is half vinegar, half water. This is so simple to make. I'm not even sure if you can actually call it a recipe, but you put it in a spray bottle and you can clean pretty much everything. You can clean your floors, you can clean your windows, you can clean your counter-tops, you can clean your bathtub, and we'll say when it comes to grouts, ovens, and occasionally tubs and showers, there's one other recipe that I always make, which is a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, bit of soap, turn it into a paste, scrub it on your tile, scrub it on your grout, your bath tub, let it sit for around 30 minutes, and any grime will just wipe away. Then lastly, I want to talk about dishes. As you transition, you will probably wash a few more dishes. I know that I wash a few more dishes now that I have reasonable products instead of disposable products. I don't want to deter you because for four years, I have not had a dishwasher, and so I have been washing all of my dishes by hand, and it hasn't been bad. But a few ways that I make dishwashing a little bit more sustainable is instead of using sponges, I have bamboo dish scrubs. What's great about these is they will be saving you a lot of money. One bamboo dish scrub which is compostable at the end of its life, will last you about a year. Whereas a sponge, do you know you're supposed to actually throw your sponges out every two weeks, which is absolutely mind-blowing. So $1-$10 investment of a bamboo dish scrub will last you much longer. When it comes to washing dishes, the best thing that I can recommend is make sure that you either shut the water off, get everything a little damp, turn the water off, scrub with a soap, and then do a light rinse. If you do have a dishwasher though, it is actually more eco-friendly to use the dishwasher than it is to hand wash. I know that I used to use paper towels, but I can't even fathom paying for them now. Because if you think about paper towels, paper products in general, you are literally paying for trash. You're buying something that you know you're going to throw away, that is like literally opening the trash can or throwing money in it. I know a lot of people tell me, "Katherine, I use paper towels, I use paper plates. I use these paper products because it saves water," and that is just not true. We're going to break that down. We're going to talk about why. So a paper plate, for instance, it takes eight gallons of water to create one paper plate, a roll of toilet paper, 37 gallons of water. There is so much water that is used in our products that we simply just don't see. By using a reusable product, well, there might be a little bit more water used in the initial production of it. Washing it will actually save a lot of water in the long run. So one of the best things you can do is to choose reusable products. As a bonus, you will be saving a bunch of money. Here are a few tips to ditch paper towels. When it comes to cleaning your mirrors, the best way I've found to do it is to make sure that you keep wiping the mirror until it's completely dry, and that's how I found to get a streak free shine on any of those counters and surfaces? When it comes to grease, things like baking grease, my recommendation is to actually strain your grease into a mason jar, save it, and actually use it for as little on some brussels sprout and you've got a great little snack. When it comes to things like gross stuff, that's the one thing that I can actually see paper towels coming in pretty handy for, because many of us don't really want to clean up really gross messes, and then wash it. But for me personally, I do have a dog, sometimes she throws up. What I do is, I just take a cloth towel, I clean it, I immediately rinse it under the sink, and I hang it to dry, and as soon as it's dry, I just throw it in with the rest of the wash. The bathroom is a really small room in the house, but surprisingly, pretty wasteful. One of my best tips is to simply take your bathroom trash can out. If you don't have it in there, it'll be way easier for you to sort not only the recyclables that might be coming out there, but also be paying close attention to what you're actually throwing away. Now, bathroom is probably one of the hardest places to go zero waste, especially if you wear makeup like I do. Makeup has been one of the biggest challenges for me personally. So one of the best ways that I have gone about reducing my waste is to simply introduce a capsule collection. You might have heard of a capsule wardrobe, which is the idea of having a few pieces that you can mix and match and wear over a long period of time to create more outfits and give you more flexibility and create less decision fatigue. Having a capsule makeup or skincare routine is very, very similar. I have a few products that I used consistently, and I am not allowed to go out buy anything new until I use that item up. I want to talk about a few other small switches that you can make in the bathroom that will add up to a huge impact. The first thing, which is one of my personal favorites slops, is the of a day attachment on the toilet, which I know might sound terrifying. I was honestly terrified to use it the first time, but it has been amazing, single-handedly revolutionized my lifestyle. On average, Americans flush 27,000 trees down the toilet every single day, and most of that is virgin pulp, so it's not recycled. Whenever you are choosing toilet paper, ought for toilet paper made with recycled content if you can try and get it wrapped and paper instead of plastic. Another simple swap, this one is so easy. Instead of opting for body wash, which comes in a plastic bottle and the majority of it, what you're paying for is water is instead swap it out for a bar of soap. Really easy to get, mostly package free. If it does come in any packaging, it's probably just in a little cardboard box which you can recycle or compose. The last simple slot for the bathroom is to swap out your toothbrush. So instead of using a plastic toothbrush, opt for one that is made from bamboo. At the end of its life, it will be compostable and you don't have to worry about creating any excess trash. As you're going to the grocery store or looking around your bathroom, you're probably going to be so overwhelmed with all of the plastic and all of the waste that you see. I just want to encourage you to remember that this is a journey, this is not a crash diet. Things will happen slowly. It will take you a time to face through the products that you currently have and to work into more and new sustainable products. The challenge for this lesson, I want you to pretend like you're going on vacation. I want you to find the items that mean the most to you for your skincare and your makeup, what would you pack? Then I want you to tuck everything else away and try just using those products for a week. I think what you'll find is most of the other products that you're using are probably unnecessary and things that you don't use very often. So instead, try and make your way through those products using them up or gifting them to friends and family who might use them. In the next lesson, we'll be going over conscious consumerism and ways that you can identify green companies, eco-friendly products. So that way, you can bring those into your life and know that you're making a sustainable choice. 8. Consuming Consciously: We've been focusing so much on different spots around the home. Now we're going to focus a little bit on outside of the home and bringing larger purchases into your life. There's no way we're going to stop consuming things. Consuming is something that's very important obviously, groceries, things like soap, these are all things that we need even clothing. The problem is when we overconsume. So the first tip that I have for you is to simply buy less. The very first thing that I like to do is I implemented a 30 day personal buy ban. Marketers prey on immediacy. It's those impulse buys, it's the things right at the checkout counter. It's something just to tempt you and you just get caught up in this vortex of wanting it right now, but if you can wait no matter what that time frame is for you, a little while longer, you have the messaging fade away and you can truly make a smart rational decision and ask yourself, will this product add value to my life? Will this enhance my closet or my wardrobe? Will this enhance my belongings? Do I really need this kitchen gadget? Whatever you might be bringing into your life, you can ask yourself some really critical questions and make sure that what you're bringing in is going to be something that you will use, something you will love, and something that will last. One of the things that I absolutely loved about implementing a personal buy ban is that it really encourages me to find creative solutions, and being more creative and thinking a little bit more outside of the box has been one of my favorite aspects about living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. A great example is camping gear. I've gone camping once in the last two years. Me owning a tent, and storing a tent, and having a tent, and having all of this camping gear, isn't a really good use of resources because I'm not using it very often. So instead, now I can just go to the store, there's a great story here it holds sports basement where you can check out gear and items, you can take it, you can go on a trip, you could also even borrow it from your friends and your family. There will be times whenever you can't find a creative solution or you do need to buy something, and that's totally fine. You just want to make sure that whenever you're buying something, that it's something that's truly going to add value to your life, it is something that is meant to last, it's something that you can repair, and most importantly it's something that you absolutely love. When you love something, you are so much more likely to repair it and keep it in your life for as long as possible. Every time you buy something, you are voting for the kind of future that you want. So if you buy a really poorly made item, you're saying, ''I want more poorly made items to be made.'' If you buy something that's sustainable and well made and supports ethical business practices you're saying, ''I want more of that in the world.'' There's a few different ways that you can get more ethical purchases in your life. For instance, supporting local makers. One of my favorite things to do is to go to the farmer's market, and there's always a local soap maker or someone who hand makes candles, and it's really cool to be able to talk to the person who's making your goods, and thanks to the Internet this is easier than ever. If you don't have something local to you, you can of course always check out Etsy, there's so many different handmade goods and you can feel really confident in the artisan that you're supporting. There's also sustainable brands. There are so many of them now that are trying to make a really positive impact, and I love being able to support them. This is one of my favorite brands here, Amour Vert. One of the ways that you know they're sustainable is they just talk about it. It is right there upfront. The a brand is doing good, they want you to know that they're doing good. They are not going to hide it. If I scroll all the way down, they talk about their fabric, the mulberry silk, and they talk all about their factories. We have got the cutting factory, the San Francisco factory, it tells the number of employees, where it's located, how it was started. That way, you feel really confident about the people that you're supporting when you buy this garment. So I pulled up this one dress which I think is absolutely beautiful, and the first thing I'm going to look at is the fabric composition because I want to make sure that I'm not going to be buying something that is made out of plastic. Plastic isn't breathable, it causes you to sweat a lot more, you have to do way more laundry, and of course it sheds those micro plastic pieces. This dress is made with silk, which is a great natural fiber, and it is made in the USA. Now, one of the things you might have noticed is that this dress is a little spendy. It is definitely more expensive than going into H&M or going into Forever 21, and buying a dress, but that is for so many reasons. One of the main ones is the fact that their workers are actually paid a living wage. Many of the times in fast fashion, people aren't paid a living wage, and we have a really altered view of what something actually cost. If a T-shirt costs $5, then how on earth could that have been made sustainably? It's practically impossible. So instead about thinking about buying more and more, it's about truly looking and buying less, and only adding in those pieces that's truly going to add value to your life. Luckily thanks to Google, finding sustainable brands is easier than ever. If you're looking for shoes, just type in ethical and sustainable shoes, and you'll probably be presented with a bunch of roundup posts that share all different types of brands that make ethical and sustainable shoes. If you're looking for underwear, just Google ethical and sustainable underwear and a bunch of companies will pop up. Since shopping sustainably can be a little bit more expensive, one of my best recommendations is to buy sustainable pieces that are basics that are going to last you for a very long time, and then shop for the fun pieces a little bit more stylish second-hand because that way, I can feel a little bit better about getting the trends without having to worry about hurting the planet. My challenge for you for this lesson though, is to implement a 30-day buy ban. Next time you see something that you really want, I want you to make a mental note of it, and then about 30 days later if you're still thinking about that item, then absolutely go out, grab it, use it, you're going to love it. But if it doesn't cross your minds anymore, then maybe that item wasn't right for you. 9. Field Trip: Secondhand Shopping: I'm so excited today. We are here at one of my favorite shops, Hello Vintage. It's a vintage store. So of course everything here is second-hand. Shopping second-hand is one of the best ways to be more sustainable, one of the most eco-friendly things you can buy is something that has already been bought. What I love about vintage clothing is the quality is so much better than most of the quality that we find in today's stores. Of course, there's also tons of online options, whether that's going to Etsy and finding something vintage, or shopping at a secondhand website like PoshMark, Depop, or thredUP. These pieces are made so well, they're made to last. Obviously, they are many, many years old, and it's just so great because many of the fabrics are also natural fabrics, which is something I do prioritize when I'm shopping. I prioritize natural fibers because many of the fibers we use now are actually made from oil. They're plastic, things like polyester, acrylic, and all of these fabric shed micro plastic pieces every single time they're washed. A new study by Plymouth University found that the average load of clothing can release up to 700,000 micro plastic pieces into our waterways. Many of these fibers are so small that they can't be filtered out. A study by OR Media found that 84 percent of drinking water worldwide is contaminated with these fibers. So one of the best choices that we can make is to opt for natural fibers, and make sure that we're washing our clothing less. On my list today, the first thing that I'm looking for is a really fun party dressed. Let's get started. So I'm going to try and stay on track. So I look through this rack trying to find a really great dress for the event that I'm going to. However, I probably will be slightly distracted by many of the amazing things over here. But the first thing I do is I just really try to stick to the color palette that I know I have in my wardrobe. This dress is from the '80s. So I'm guessing that this lace is probably synthetic. However, I would never throw this piece in the washing machine. So when it comes to fabric, I'm not going to be super adamant about making sure that it's a 100 percent natural. When it comes to dry cleaning, there are several options that are more eco-friendly. My suggestion is just to bring your own garment bags. That way you can avoid all of the plastic bags that's involved. But typically, you're going to be fine if you just let your clothes air out in-between washes, put your clothes on a hanger, let them hang, and let air circulate around them. I also use a half vodka, half water mixture, and I can spray the clothes, just to kind of spray them down, get any funk out of them, let them air out, and this way I can stretch my clothes for a very long time before ever actually putting them in the washing machine or taking them to a dry cleaner. I absolutely love navy blue polka dots. I actually have four navy blue and polka dot dresses. One of the best things to do when you're shopping is to be really familiar with your wardrobe. Typically, when we're out, we're drawn to the same types of pieces. For instance, I have two navy blue polka dot dresses. I also have four pink sweaters. I love pink sweaters, love navy blue polka dot dresses, and so just by simply knowing the types of items that I'm drawn to, and being aware of the clothing I already have in my wardrobe, it prevents me from making repeat purchases on something that I might not wear as often as I should. Alright, so I absolutely love this dress. As a bonus, this dress is silk, so it's a natural fiber, which means that it will regulate body temperature really, really well. What I love the most about it though is I can wear it as a dress, but also it completely unclips, and it's a fabulous coat. So it's something that I would definitely get a lot of wear out of, especially because pink is probably the number one color I wear most in my wardrobe. Well, I got exactly what I wanted. So now I'm going to head home. 10. Growing Your Impact: This is my absolute favorite lesson. I'm so excited that you've made it this far because honestly this is the most important part I think, this is about taking the method outside of yourself. All of these small changes you're doing are amazing. Individual action is so important, it's the most important piece of the puzzle because in order for businesses and politicians to react, the citizens must first act, they're reacting to what we are doing. So this is such a vital step, but honestly we absolutely need businesses and politicians working on this as well. One of the best ways to spread the message outside of yourself is just simply talk to your friends and family. You don't have to tell them what to do just share what is making you very excited. I find the best way to approach it is to approach it from a very selfish point of view. So instead of telling people you're doing it for the planet, talk about all the benefits that you are personally gaining. You are saving money, you are living a more streamlined, more present, more joyful life, you are living a healthier lifestyle. If you can talk about all of these benefits that you're personally seeing, people will be much more interested and much more receptive. Because when you talk about something from a selfless point of view, I'm doing this for the planet. No matter if you are being self-righteous or not, people will automatically perceive it that way. So when you're framing your speech, come from a place of pure joy, come from a place of absolute excitement, share what you're doing in a really kind way. Another really simple way to be actively involved is to support a group, an organization. I personally have several reoccurring monthly donation setup for a really small amount, just $5-$7, because I want to support organizations who are doing really amazing work. This is a great way for me to help influence policy because I'm supporting groups and organizations that are advocating for that. A few of my favorite organizations that I consistently donate to are Plastic Pollution Coalition, Earthjustice, Project Drawdown, and Oceana. Of course there are many others and I would love for you to check them out down below. If you're looking for a place to find like-minded people, I would absolutely recommend looking into your local Sierra Club, of course, looking into the Citizens Climate Lobby or just checking out a place like Whether or not there's a specific Zero Waste group or a sustainable living group, you can typically find a group that is interested in some type of eco-friendly activity and you can plug in and find your people. Of course there are number of other ways to get involved and won of my personal favorite ways is to email your legislators or fax them by paying attention to what bills are currently in the house and telling them that you oppose or approve of those bills that are happening. I know that sounds crazy. Like how do we even get started? Thankfully, there's a great organization called the Sierra Club and they have done all of that legwork for you. I'm going to show you how easy it is to find all of the bills that are currently in your state legislature so that way you can figure out which builds his support and oppose and email your reps and hopefully they will listen to you. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm just going to Google Sierra Club Bills California, and the first thing that pops up as California legislature and priority bills Sierra Club. I'm going to click on that, and what you can seen right here, it says for a list of priority bills in 2019 and their status click here. So I'm just going to click there and then I've got this great PDF and everything is color-coded for me and I can see where the bills are and whether or not I should support or oppose them. Then I can read more, learn more about it, make sure that aligns with my personal values and my personal beliefs, and then I can email my representative and ask them as their constituent to please vote how I would like for them to vote. That's it, it's that simple. I can just copy and paste. It is so easy. It's something that sounds really complex, but once you start doing it, I recommend that you make a monthly practices of it. Which brings me to this lesson's challenge, which is to check out your local Sierra Club website, see what bills are going through your state legislature right now, and please email your representative and ask them to oppose or support bills that you're interested in. Another few ways for you to get involved, talk to your friends and family, one of the best ways is to incorporate them in some way. So throw a really fun zero waste dinner party, show up maybe some of your new plant-based cooking skills and invite them and just chat about how things were prepared and how excited you are about all of these new skills that you've learned. If you're feeling really adventurous and really up for it, screen a documentary at your local library and give a small talk afterwards, encouraging members of your community and sharing different ways you found to be more sustainable around town. If you're unsure what to talk about at your local library, you can follow a really similar structure to what I've talked about today. One of the best ways to get other people involved is to give them ownership over something. Just kind of how you filled out that PDF yourself, I'm hoping that you feel ownership over this journey, and I hope that you'll be wanting to share it with others. 11. Final Thoughts: Congratulations. You have finished the class. I am so excited. I hope that you have learned so many new skills that you'll implement in your life. We have done simple swaps. We've gone grocery shopping, we've talked about being a more conscious consumer and most importantly, we have talked about how to take this message outside of yourself and spread sustainable living far and wide. I would love to hear about your progress. Please pop over to the project gallery, share it. If you'd like to share it with me personally, you can found me on Instagram I will link it down below so that way you can checked it out. That's all I have for now. So I hope you get out there and save the world. 12. Bonus: Kathryn’s Story: I grew up in Arkansas, which is not the most eco-friendly, or progressive state in America, so I'm sure many of you know. I loved my home state. But when I moved out to California, there's certainly a lot more access here. I started writing my blog because I wanted people to know that no matter if they lived in Arkansas, where the only thing in town was a Walmart, or if they lived in progressive New York or California, that there are small changes that you can make for your personal health that are not only better for you, but also better for the planet. For me, I did not approach zero waste, sustainable, eco-friendly living, whatever we want to call it, for the planet. That was never my goal. I had a breast cancer scare when I was 20, and it completely turned my entire world upside down. I started making these small changes. I stopped eating a heavy processed food diet, started focusing on more whole foods, and more plant-based diet. I majored in musical theater, I did professional theater, and I'm sure as we all know, actors don't make the most money. I started making my own cleaning products. I got interested in making my own beauty products, because it was a way for me to save money, and also a way for me to make a green choice, and know exactly what I was putting into the products that I was using. Eventually, I wound up in California. If you've ever been to San Francisco, then you probably know there's a lot of litter on the streets. When we think about trash, it's something we put in a bin, and someone comes, and they pick it up, and they take it away. We never have to really see it. For the first time, I actually saw it. Being so close to the ocean, I realized that all of this trash whenever it rains, is going straight into the storm drain, and right out to the sea. It was the first time it really clicked for me that the changes I was making for my personal health, weren't only better for me, but also better for the health of the planet.