How to Lead a Low Impact Life in 2021

Blog Contributor: Shannon Ruzgys

There’s no better time than the start of a new year to commit to lifestyle changes that can better you and the planet! Here are 10 ways you can lead a lower impact lifestyle in 2021:  

Minimize food waste in the kitchen: 

  • Nearly 1.3 billion tons of food are thrown out every year, which is enough food to feed all 815 million hungry people in the world 
  • In North America, 61% of food that is wasted is done so by consumers (not producers) 
  • How we can help:  
    • Avoid buying food in bulk: research has shown that buying bulk leads to more food waste 
    • Store foods properly: improper storing of fresh produce can lead to premature ripening and waste 
    • Shop ugly: food doesn’t have to look perfect to taste perfect, misshapen foods and those with minor blemishes are often discarded while being perfectly edible 
    • Organize your fridge: a properly organized fridge will help food from getting lost and discarded, never to be eaten 

Ditch disposables: 

  • All of the following items have reusable options that can be easily found online or in store – try swapping out what you can: 
    • Paper towels 
    • Makeup wipes 
    • Water bottles 
    • Utensils  
    • Shopping bags 
    • Grocery produce bags

Become engaged with the food you’re eating: 

  • Start thinking about where the food you’re eating comes from. Here are some questions you can ask to guide your grocery shopping: 
    • Where was this food produced? 
    • How was this food produced? 
    • Is there an environmentally friendly option that is accessible to me? 
    • Is this a necessity?  
    • Can I find an option with less packaging?  

Make your protein green: 

  • It is well established that mass produced factory farmed meat is damaging to the environment 
  • Choosing environmentally friendly proteins is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of your diet, here are some options: 
    • Choose grass fed/pasture raised meat  
    • Grass fed meat is generally produced in a much more sustainable and even environmentally beneficial way 
    • Choose less meat 
    • Meatless meals can be easy, tasty, and a great way to reduce your impact 
    • Reducing consumption is a great way to reduce your environmental impact 
    • Choose plant based options 
    • Most restaurants and take out places offer delicious plant based options 
    • A variety of plant based proteins can be found a nearly all grocery stores 

Shop second hand 

  • The greenest way to consume is by consuming products that are already produced 
  • Things like clothing and home décor can easily be purchased second hand (and are often much cheaper than buying them new) 
  • There are plenty of high quality items just waiting to be given a second life. Just because it’s not new doesn’t mean it’s not good!

Upcycle before you recycle 

  • Plenty of items just need quick DIY project before they can be put to good use 
  • Sauce jars and old candles that come in glass jars can easily be upcycled for reuse 

Use your voice in your community 

  • In the age of at home and takeout, avoiding waste can be difficult  
  • If you love a restaurant but hate their plastic packaging, write to them and let them know that sustainability is important to you 

Use your voice on social media 

  • There are plenty of Instagram accounts that produce great educational content about climate change and the environment  
  • Following and sharing these pages is a great way to engage yourself and your followers in environmental education 
  • Some great Instagram pages that focus on environmental issues: 
    • @wwfcanada 
    • @yearsofliving 
    • @greenpeace 
    • @futureearth 
    • @nrdc_org 
    • @ancientforestalliance  

Avoid food, cosmetics, and cleaning products that have palm oil in them 

  • Palm oil is grown in tropical rainforests and the clearing of these forests for oil has largely been unregulated and uncontrolled. The conversion of tropical rainforest to palm oil plantations has led to widespread destruction and loss of irreplaceable ecosystems. Many endangered species are directly impacted by palm oil production, including orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.  
  • WWF has a great page that explains how palm oil is used in everyday products:Here’s a list of products you may not know use palm oil: 
    • Oreos
    • Doritos 
    • Nail polish
    • Skittles 
    • Lipstick 
    • Dairy milk chocolate 
    • Smarties 
    • Margarine  
    • And so much more….
  • However, avoiding palm oil can be difficult so if you can’t avoid it look for products that use RSPO sustainably sources palm oil  

Shop local 

  • Supporting local not only reduces transportation emissions but also supports your local community and those who live within it 
  • In the grocery store, many products have a local alternative for a similar price (i.e. Chinese garlic vs. Canadian garlic) 
  • Due to COVID-19 small businesses are everywhere and supporting them has never been easier! 

As you can see, lowering your impact on the environment can occur in a variety of ways and it’s important to make changes that work with your current reality. Be kind to yourself and follow us on social media @BUsustainable for more tips! 

Categories: Student Contributor