This is What I Use and Do to Live More Sustainably

Earth Day, the one day of the year many people do things to show they care about the Earth. We turn out lights for an hour. We stop using plastic for a day. We have a no trash lunch day. I work in a school, and those are the typical things I see. But after Earth Day ends, do any of these behaviours or ideas stick? I feel like they are starting to but it’s only just the beginning. There is so much more we can be doing. But just cause there is more you can be doing, don’t fall into the trap that you have to be perfect or just not do it at all.

I am consider myself a sustainable traveler. I am aware and conscious of the ways in which I travel and impact the Earth. Am I perfect? Far from it. Some who do more might look at me like I am a phony, because I could be doing more. Such as vegans who think I am a hypocrite cause of what the meat industry does to animals and the environment. And I get it but I also know that in order to make a point, it’s better to focus on the positives than the negatives, and to call everyone out for what they do wrong, usually makes them not want to try at all, more than it makes them want to do all the things.

Even the most highly regarded sustainable humans out there, they aren’t perfect. They mess up. They order at a restaurant and forget to ask for no straw. They love a certain drink that they can only get in plastic bottles. They travel and adore street food and forgot to bring their own dish. They forgot their reusable grocery bag at home, cause they weren’t planning to stop at the grocery store. NO BODY’s life is perfectly sustainable/eco-friendly… so when you think about trying to reduce plastic in your life, or make it more eco-friendly, it’s okay to start slow. I am.

Originally I wanted to have a plastic-free year this year… I live in Vietnam, where regardless of my failing memory to bring all my things I have to help with that, it is very difficult. So I reevaluated it. Instead of making myself feel awful every time I bought something that came in plastic, or forgot my cup to get my iced coffee in, I decided I would just commit to reducing my plastic use, and buying more long-lasting products, instead of all the throwaway items out there in the consumer world.

So I made a list of things I wanted to buy, specifically for when I went back to Canada for Christmas, because it’s not always easy to find these kinds of products here in Vietnam, and I didn’t need them right away. Remember, being sustainable isn’t throwing out everything you own to buy the same stuff in more eco-friendly materials. That’s just adding to the waste. If you genuinely don’t want something anymore, such as clothes, by all means donate it. But don’t throw out your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one, just cause it’s more sustainable. Buy the bamboo one, sure, but wait until it’s time for a new one to throw out the old plastic one.

My list was small and very specific. I want to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of plastic (and waste in general) in my life, specifically getting rid of any single use plastic I can. I bought and sent home a couple things, but I put a few items on a list for others to buy me for Christmas, even though I didn’t really want any presents. Now only one of those was actually purchased and put under the tree for me, and another one that was kinda the same thing. Here’s the deal about why I never want Christmas presents… it’s because I’d rather buy exactly what I want than have others buy things that are kinda what I asked for but not really.  No offence, and I know it’s silly but sometimes a girl wants a specific pattern or brand. But I digress… (I always digress)

So anyways, I honestly bought most of the items I wanted on Amazon, but they can also be bought straight from the brand’s website and/or in stores in places that it’s easier to buy this stuff. Here is a list of the things I obtained and why I wanted them/how they will help, specifically in relation to my travels.

Keep Cups

keepcups

I learned about Keep Cups when I was searching for reusable cups to rid myself of the throw away cups you find at coffee shops. Though disposable coffee cups are often paper and actually recyclable, they are lined with plastic polyethylene to make them able to hold liquids. But the fact that they hold liquids makes the recycling process different for them, and to be honest most people don’t end up putting them in the recycling. I was pleasantly surprised to not only find Keep Cup, but find cute colourful ones to boot. And best part, Star Wars ones for my partner; he’s a Star Wars nerd. Win-win in my books. Now to remember them when going out for coffee, always the hard part when you randomly decide to grab a coffee while already out. But something most of us can easily throw in our purse, or backpack, just in case.

I have been using my Keep Cup for a few months now. I bring it to work every morning with my homemade smoothie in it for breakfast, and wash it out to go get my iced coffee from the store in it by morning break. I am so happy with it. I have even managed to fall while walking to work, with the cup flying out of my hands, and it didn’t even break open or spill a drop of smoothie out of it. Needless to say, I am a big fan and you should be too. I will most likely be buying a glass one for my collection in the future.

Click here to buy your own, or just check them out on Amazon.

ToGo Utensils

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These are something so simple, and small, that can be easily slid into a purse or backpack, or luggage when traveling. These bamboo utensils are the perfect way to reduce your use of single use plastic. We order our salads for lunch every day (perks of living in a country that has a terrific delivery food system) and started bringing our bamboo utensils to work and requesting that the place we order from stop sending us forks and chopsticks every time. It took a few times for them to figure it out, with the notes on my order. But now even when I forget to write it, they know my order and don’t throw them in the bag. Now to figure out how to get them to deliver without it being in a plastic bag… small steps.

This is something important. I live in Vietnam, where plastic utensils are used more than I have ever seen. And maybe I am not making a huge impact with my choice not to use them, but if everyone thought that way, no one would make the change. And if I can inspire others to start thinking about it and make the change to, we can eventually make a difference. But don’t beat yourself up when you end up at a restaurant, without your utensils, and you forgot your bamboo ones. Eventually you get into the habit of having them with you but it takes time and routine.

Click here to buy your own, or check them out on Amazon.

Bamboo Toothbrushes

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To be quite honest, I didn’t start using these right away after getting them. Why? Though I ordered them and received them at Christmas, my current toothbrush wasn’t ready to be thrown away and I wasn’t going to just toss it out just to start using my new ones. They say to get a new toothbrush every 3-4 months, or when the bristles are frayed. Now I know thats not ‘that much’ plastic, but small changes wherever you can will make a difference in the long run. When you are ready for a new toothbrush, make the switch and see what you think. If bamboo is not for you, there are other alternatives as well.

Click here to buy your own, or check them out on Amazon.

Metal Straws

img_6528.jpgHave you seen all the videos on social media lately talking about plastic straws and their effect on the environment? Specifically their effect on our oceans? It’s rather sad and depressing. Something so small, but so overused, can be hurting the environment so much. I bought a pack of metal straws, and I keep one in my utensils pack. It takes awhile to remember that you have them, and to be honest, many times when I ask for no straw people don’t listen and send one anyways. But eventually you remember and start making it clear that you don’t need one. My advice, show your straw when you order and ask for no straw, to make sure they understand. Effective when you are ordering a drink in a country where they don’t speak the same language as you.

Some people complain about metal taste, but I personally haven’t noticed any, and we have been using ours a lot with our shakes at dinner. But if you are concerned about it, there are alternatives like glass straws or bamboo. Anything but single-use plastic!

Click here to buy your own, or check them out on Amazon.

Sanuk Sandals

Ever since I bought my first pair of Sanuks, I have never wanted to wear another pair of sandals. The reason I originally bought them, well before I became more aware of purchasing more sustainable products, because who wouldn’t want the soles of their shoes to be made from soft, comfy yoga mats. The thought of that sounds glorious, for a girl who lives in flip flops and sandals (living in hot countries year round). And they definitely live up to that standard of comfort.

When I started looking into the brands I already buy from, I was pleased to find all that Sanuk does in regards to corporate responsibility (found here). Their commitment to ethical sourcing and minimizing their effect of the environment makes me happy to wear their products. Personally my favourite are the Yoga Sling, but would be willing to wear anything they create.

Click here to buy your own, or check them out on Amazon.

Cabin Zero Backpack

Phnom Penh-11.jpgYou may have seen these wonderful Cabin Zero backpacks on Instagram. If you haven’t, you should have a look. My favourite part about these bags, initially, was that they come in fun colours. Can I tell you how bored I have been in the past looking for a good travel backpack that wasn’t boring ugly. dark colours? Granted the colour I chose made Nick say I look like backpacker Barbie, but I am okay with that, cause I mean, check out this colour…

But alas, colour alone isn’t good enough for me. What is the company doing for sustainability? On this page, the company discusses their dedication to social responsibility. The materials they use limit the environmental impact of their products. One of the most important things, to me, is that I am using a product that will last. All is well and good when the materials are sourced properly, but if I have to replace a product often, I am contributing to a waste problem. The reviews of Cabin Zero that I have read highlight a product that is built to last. And that is something I support.

Go check out Cabin Zero bags and order your own here.

Thanks to Cabin Zero for gifting me the Classic 44L in Lipe Blue.

Rice Love Bags

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For an every day bag, something to carry around while walking around a new city or on a hike to throw some water bottles and snacks in, I use my Rice Love bag. To be fair, I even use it every day as my work bag to bring my laptop and other things with me. I love this bag, not only for the pretty colours and style part of it all, but it’s functional and practical… and made from eco-friendly ,cruelty free materials (hello! Handmade from used jute/burlap rice bags, the bags in the Recycled Collection are made from plant-based fibers, are biodegradable). And even better, every purchase provides a kilogram of rice to a family in need in India. And when asked about it on an Instagram picture, the company said they buy the rice from local sellers to give back to the local economy. Can I love this company anymore? Probably not!

Head over to ricelove.org to check out their bags, and use my code: THELIFEOFASOLIVAGANT to get 20% off!

Kate Wood Originals

IMG_4824.JPGI am not going to lie to you, glasses used to be my obsession. I unfortunately probably own about 30 pairs of cheap plastic sunnies from my days living in Thailand. Add in that I also had prescription glasses, and liked matching them to my outfits. But I have changed my ways. I see the importance in choosing a quality brand of sustainable materials, instead of a bunch of cheap ones now. And wooden sunnies are definitely my jam. I was thankful to come across Kate Wood Originals at a store close to my apartment, here in Saigon. The design of the Barcelona pair work so well with my style. And honestly, if I could buy one of their bicycles here I would too! Such great quality sunnies, and with renewable sources, can’t go wrong. And they have such great styles. Whether you want one pair, or more, these are a quality brand that will last you awhile.

Click here to buy your own.

Yoga Pants

MySon

I hate working out. And I hate most work out attire. It’s just not my thing. To me it’susually uncomfortable and/or just ugly. Yes I am that vain, I need something cute to work out in. Okay maybe not even cute, just colourful and fun. Mostly because my kind of working out is hiking, walking around cities and so on. And let’s be honest, as much as I love my dresses, they aren’t always the most practical attire for some of the hikes I end up doing in my travels. Insert Teeki, a brand of yoga pants created from recycled plastic bottles. And my favourite part, they come ins one beautiful and colourful designs. I will still opt for a dress whenever I can, but when a dress isn’t in the cards, these are my new go-to pants for working out, hiking or even sometimes just our dog walks with the shelter here.

Click here to buy your own; you get 10% ordering through my link.

So don’t go throwing out everything in your house just to substitute it all for more sustainable products, with eco-friendly materials. But perhaps starting thinking about the ways in which you can change aspects of your life to make a difference, even if it is only something small. This list was merely a chance for you to looks at the things I have bought and used to make a difference in my world, take it and do with it how you choose.

This post contains some affiliate thinks, when clicking the link, or using a code, to make a purchase, I receive a small commission from it.

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