In a special Earth Day episode of the Good Together Podcast, Laura and Liza, co-founders of Brightly, talked with Kamea Chayne. Kamea is one of the OG sustainability podcasters with her interview-based show, Green Dreamer. Kamea shared some actionable ways for all of us to be more curious, conscious consumers. With tips on supporting ecological restoration, growing your food, washing your clothes safely, and using your car strategically, there’s a useful, quickly-applied tip here for anyone interested in supporting a greener future.
1) Focus on Restoration, Not Just Reduction
So much of the conversation around climate change focuses on reducing our impact, especially reducing our carbon emissions. But even if we stopped burning fossil fuels and emitting CO2, it wouldn’t be enough to address climate change.
Kamea encourages listeners to consider how they can not only reduce their environmental impact through their carbon emissions but also how they can have a net positive effect.
When measured by volume, 90% of all greenhouse gases are water vapor. That’s why restoring our natural ecosystems is vital, on top of trying to reduce our carbon emissions. Without healed ecosystems, water cycles, and carbon cycles, climate change will continue.
2) Compost Your Food Scraps
How can you contribute to the revitalization of your local ecosystems? One fundamental way to help is to work towards healthy soil regeneration. If you have a patio or backyard, you probably have access to soil. Adding plant species that are native to your area can support your bioregional landscape and wildlife.
Even if you don’t have a patio or backyard, consider learning to compost. Composting is a great way to add healthy nutrients to the soil and reduce the amount of food you waste. If you don’t have a personal garden where you can use your composted material, you can always give your compost to a green-thumbed friend, drop it off at your community compost center, or share it with a community garden.
3) Start an Heirloom Garden
If you have space, you can grow a small garden in just a few planter boxes. Focus on growing heirloom vegetables—they taste better, are more nutritious, and you can save the seeds to use again and again. Growing your food is not only satisfying, but it allows you to customize your vegetable selection and avoid imported, shipped, and generic options found in supermarkets.
If there isn’t a community garden in your area, you could always be the one to start it! Community gardens are joyful spaces that allow diverse groups of people to work together. They are a great way for neighbors to connect, for children to learn more about healthy foods, and for everyone to find a common point of connection.
4) Look out for products with this new certification
If you can’t start a garden or join a community garden, your next best bet is to keep an eye out for the Regenerative Organic Certification, which should be on products later this year.
The certification has three main components: animal welfare, fair treatment of farmworkers, and soil regeneration. That means that food grown under this certification is ethical to animals and laborers and that the farms follow strict guidelines to regenerate their soil in healthy, sustainable, and organic ways.
5) Capture the Microplastics Shedding Off Your Clothes
It’s essential to clean waterways both locally and globally to restore our water cycles. Ocean cleanups and beach litter pickups are significant steps, but what can you do at home to help? Start by considering one of the sources of water flowing out of your home: the washing machine.
The chemicals used to make certain colors or performance properties in all plastics, including those in synthetic fabrics, can end up in waterways. These microplastics are harmful to wildlife and us. In a typical laundry cycle, up to 700,000 plastic microfibers can fall off of clothing made from synthetic plastic materials and enter our waterways.
If you want to reduce the amount of microplastics flowing into waterways from your load of laundry, you can use a product like the GuppyFriend bag. You add your clothes made from synthetic materials into the bag, seal it up, and then the hem of the bag catches the microfibers.
6) Switch to a greener laundry detergent
Switching to a greener laundry detergent can also help send cleaner gray water out of your home, with the bonus of not leaving chemical residue on your clothing. Environmentally-friendly options like Dropps and EcoNuts are popular. You can also check out the Environmental Working Group’s laundry guide for environmental ratings of nearly 1,000 different laundry products.
7) Buy Clothes Made From Natural Fibers
Kamea also recommended buying clothes that are made from non-synthetic materials like cotton, linen, wool, or bamboo to avoid microplastics altogether. She loves and recommends the brand Gaia Conceptions for their customizable options and the plant dyes they use to color their fabrics.
8) Use Your Car & Other Transportation Strategically
Driving is part of daily life for many people. We all know that driving less is a worthy goal to strive for, but if you live in a far-flung suburb or another lower-density area, driving becomes a requirement because of a lack of speedy public transportation options.
One way to lower your car emissions starts when you buy your next vehicle. Searching for a new-to-you used car, an electric car, or another eco-friendly vehicle is terrific. If you’re not in the market for a new car, consider using public transportation when you have time to spare.
9) Cut Down on Paper Waste
While the carbon footprint of our paper waste is relatively small compared to more intensive categories like transportation or food waste, it’s still worth thinking creatively about ways you can cut down on the amount of paper you use.
Swap paper towels for reusable rags, bring cloth bags with you when possible, and avoid unnecessary printing.
If you’re a business owner who frequently hands out business cards, consider going digital to reduce the amount of paper you use. You can easily create a card using free online software like Adobe Spark, and even include a QR code to your website. It’s a smart and straightforward way for you to network without creating waste.
10) Keep Learning & Make Small Changes
As Kamea shared with us, it can be overwhelming and even saddening to learn about all of the things affecting our environment. The best way to combat that is to make the small changes that work for you. At Good Together, we like to focus on everyone doing what they can and collectively making a difference.