15 Steps To A More Eco-Conscious Morning Routine
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
We asked Bonnie Culbertson, a freelance travel and sustainability writer and Co-Host of the Podcast 101 Ways To Save The Planet, how to help make our morning routines as eco-conscious as possible.
One of my favorite ways to approach living a more sustainable life is by re-evaluating my daily routine. While I may not be able to afford solar roof tiles or to drive an electric car just yet, the little things I do every day can still add up to make a big impact. And being intentional about my daily decisions - vs simply choosing for convenience - has benefits that extend beyond the good of the planet. I choose foods that are better for my body. I save money by being mindful of waste. But the best part is getting to experience the very real joy - every day - that comes from living a life in line with your values.
If you’re looking for a routine refresh that feels more in sync with your love of the planet, look no further. Here are 15 simple steps you can start to take every day. By the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll realize these swaps have been as much a gift for yourself as they have for the planet.
1. Make your bed - You might be surprised to see bed-making on a list of steps to help the planet, but hear me out. Making your bed has been shown to support mental health. When you start your day with this small, positive accomplishment, you’re primed to continue tackling challenges throughout the day. Getting your mind right first thing is so important when it comes to living with intention. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Meditate - Our world was built on convenience, so making intentional decisions throughout your day is decidedly inconvenient. Living an inconvenient life is a beautiful thing, but first you must take back control from your inner auto-pilot. Meditating every morning is my way of doing that. On days when I’m pressed for time, I’ll at least spend some time thinking of things I’m grateful for. In addition to myriad other benefits, a daily gratitude practice keeps us in a mindset of abundance. This can arm us against impulse purchases and shopping habits that result in short-term satisfaction but leave a long-term impact on the environment.
3. Drink some water - We all know it’s important to hydrate, the thing to switch up here is to make sure you’re NOT drinking water from a single-use plastic bottle anymore. Recent reports say that Americans are consuming more than 70,000 microplastic particles each year thanks to plastic waste making its way out of landfills and into our environment. The kicker? The same study found those who drink from plastic bottles consume even MORE. Time to invest in a water filter!
4. Wash-up waste-free - If you haven’t already discovered bottle-free shampoo and conditioner, allow me to make you a convert. They are so easy to use, made with amazing ingredients (a side-effect of being made by an already ethical brand) and many times last way longer than your standard bottle. Plus, you can take them with you on any trip without getting stopped by TSA! My favorite brand is Viori, but other great brands include Aspen Kay, Lush Cosmetics and Ethique.
5. Switch up your shaver - Opt for a reusable razor over single-use plastic alternatives. I love the sleek and customizable Leaf Razor - unlike its plastic counterpart, when it gets a bit gunky you can easily flip up the blades to quickly rinse everything out. When it’s time for new blades, you can recycle the old at any scrap metals collection.
6. My favorite, coffee - Sitting, smelling and slowly sipping my morning coffee while the sun takes its time coming up is maybe my most sacred AM ritual. Getting a French Press is the most eco-friendly option for your home-brew. Unlike traditional machines, they don’t require separate filters, which may be compostable but often come in packaging that is not (read: more single-use plastic). If you have a Keurig, consider upgrading to reusable pods.
7. Stay sustainable on-the-go - Heading out the door? Don’t forget to pack a reusable coffee cup. Not only will it come in handy when you’re ready for that mid-morning pick-me-up, but it also becomes an important opportunity to set an example, and inspire the people behind you in line to pick up their own reusable mug. As a bonus, many coffee shops will even offer a discount or special reward for bringing your cup with you.
8. Drink your breakfast - I make the same, vegan green smoothie for breakfast just about every morning. For me, it’s one less decision to make in my day and that much more brain power to devote to other tasks (hint: Obama also swears by the same rule). The recipe is simple - a cup of almond milk with a handful of spinach or other leafy green, plant-based vanilla protein powder, banana and palm oil-free sunflower butter - YUM!
9. Take your sustainable supplements - In addition to fueling my body with my nutrient-rich smoothie, I give myself an extra little boost with one fatty15 capsule, which helps keep my cells in tip-top shape so I can face whatever the day throws at me. I love that the company avoids all plastic waste, sending customers a reusable glass jar to start out with, and paper packets of refills when you start running low.
10. Brush your teeth - Now that breakfast is done, you’ll want to make sure none of those aforementioned leafy greens are stuck in your teeth. Did you know that more than one billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills each year? Let’s move away from that mess and upgrade to a bamboo brush, which is biodegradable and made from a fast replenishing resource - a single stalk of bamboo can grow up to 3 feet in a day! While you’re at it, consider switching your standard tube toothpaste for waste-free Bite tablets, which are also TSA-friendly for all you travelers out there :)
11. Get dressed - Since making the switch to a more sustainable lifestyle, my wardrobe has transformed from fast-fashion to unique, thrifted pieces and beautiful, high-quality and ethically produced basics that will last. Now, when I look in my closet, each piece has meaning, reminding me of strolling through second-hand shops with my sisters or evoking gratitude for and connection to the artisans who crafted the garment - and were paid a livable wage to do so!
12. Move your body - Staying healthy - both physically and mentally - is essential to living an intentional, eco-conscious life. After all, when we’re tired and rundown is when we’re most susceptible to choosing convenience over ethics. That’s why I make time to move my body every morning. Usually, this is as simple as a 20-30 minute walk around my neighborhood.
13. Feed your brain - My daily walk or run is also a great time to catch up on your latest podcast episode or book-on-tape. If you’re new to a low-waste and sustainable lifestyle, seek out resources to help you understand not just the problems posed by our waste and warming climate, but the beautiful solutions that already exist to correct those problems. Might I suggest, 101 Ways to Save the Planet?
14. BYO-Tote - Before you head out the door, grab one or two reusable totes to stash in your bag or car. You’ll be prepared for any last-minute grocery needs or other plastic-free alternative goods you’re feeling newly-inspired to buy.
15. Have fun! - You don’t have to make all 15 of these changes to your routine today. Take it one step at a time, and pick the ones that feel especially right for you. Everyone is different and I know not everyone’s day will look the same as mine. No matter what you choose to do to refresh your routine, know that you’re making a difference and there are people - and animals! - all over the world who are so grateful for the choices you’re making, myself included.
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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