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Top 6 Ways to Live More Sustainably

While these actions may seem small, if everyone becomes just a little more conscious about the simple changes they can make, it can lead to big results over the long term.
Feb 20, 2024 | Joy McCarthy

With Earth Day coming up in a couple of months, I thought it was a great time to reflect on how we can live like every day is Earth Day. Last year I wrote a post with 8 Ways to Make Every Day Earth Day and today I’m following it up with 6 more suggestions on how to live more sustainably.

When it comes to caring for the planet, we can all play an active role by making small choices to live more sustainably. While these actions may seem small, if everyone becomes just a little more conscious about the simple changes they can make, it can lead to big results over the long term. Below are some simple, but effective ways to bring sustainability into your life so that we can live joyously on Mama Earth for years to come!

1. Save Your Glass Jars

One of my favourite ways to reduce my carbon footprint is by saving my glass jars from things like pasta sauces, salsas, spices, condiments, and other products. Just remove the label, run the jar through the dishwasher (or hand wash), and you’ve got a perfect storage container for everything from grains to spices to tasty leftovers .

Not only are you keeping trash out of the landfill, but glass is a safer alternative than plastic for food storage, since it doesn’t contain toxic ingredients that can disrupt our endocrine systems.

Joyous Tip: I love to label my jars and use them to organize my spice cupboard and pantry–it’s sustainable and it looks so pretty! They also make great options for portioning and storing your meal prep. Developing a weekly meal prep routine helps reduce food waste and saves money–a win-win for you and the planet!

2. Ditch the Plastic Wrap

Did you know that it takes most plastics at least 4000 years to decompose?

That means almost every plastic ever made still exists on Mama Earth in some way. A study published in 2017 found that of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has been produced in the past 60 years about 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste.

Much of the growth in plastic production is due to the demand for plastic packaging. It accounts for 40% of all non-fibre plastics worldwide. What’s even worse is that only about 9% of all plastic waste is recycled. 79% of this waste ends up in landfills or the environment while 12% is incinerated, releasing a ton of toxins into the atmosphere.

If our current obsession with plastics continues, scientists estimate there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste in the environment by 2050.

While these numbers may seem overwhelming, this knowledge is actually incredibly empowering! If much of the plastic produced globally is required for packaging, we can do our part to lower our footprint by using sustainable alternatives like beeswax or silicone wraps to store food. You can also use those glass jars you saved as a great way to store leftovers and organize your pantry.

It’s important to remember that plastics aren’t just clogging up our landfills and polluting the oceans, they also contain harmful chemicals, such as phthalates, that can have long term negative effects on health and hormones. Listen to this great podcast episode with Dr. Shanna Swan on the link between phthalate exposure and fertility.

Joyous Tip: See if you can go plastic free for a whole week. Shop for produce that isn’t wrapped in plastic, skip the plastic bags at the store, buy products that come in glass or cardboard, and stock up on bulk items using reusable jars–see below for more bulk shopping tips! And get yourself some beeswax wraps! I've had the same ones for years and they are amazing for items like cheese or just to cover a food container, basically anytime you'd use plastic wrap, you can use beeswax instead. I do find that beeswax wraps that are a blend (sometimes they have cotton) are far more durable and don't break down after a couple of months.

3. Shop in Bulk

We know how much waste is created through single use plastics so a great way to be more sustainable in your habits is to start purchasing products in bulk. There are shops popping up all over the place that sell things like shampoos, conditioners, hand soaps, dish soaps, all purpose cleaners, body washes, lotions, bath salts, and massage oils. In fact, there are a few bulk stores (refilleries) that sell our Hello Joyous products!


These shops are a great place to start lowering your plastic consumption and possibly get to try some fun new products as well! As a bonus, most zero-waste shops source clean, sustainable products so it’s truly a win-win situation.

Another area where you can save some plastic is by shopping for food products in bulk. Most grocery stores have a bulk section and there are also many shops that are specifically designed as bulk shopping locations. That means you can stock up on your healthy faves, like nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and other goodies, all while caring for the environment.

Joyous Tip: You can use your clean glass jars as containers to purchase and store your bulk food items. Many stores will weigh your reusable containers upon arrival so that you can save the plastic and store your products safely.

4. Shop Sustainable Food

Another important consideration when living a sustainable life is by supporting food producers who make the health of the planet a priority in their practices. With farmer’s market season fast approaching, it’s a great time to get to know your local farmers. Talk to them as you shop and ask about their growing practices for food and livestock. Then you can make informed decisions to support the growers who have sustainable practices in place.

As a bonus, buying local food reduces your carbon footprint and supports the local economy. If your local area doesn’t have a farmer’s market, look for certified organic and humanely raised products at the grocery store. We support the amazing Sunday Farms who deliver pasture-raised, ethically sourced local meats right to your door. I feel confident feeding their products to my loves because they are guaranteed to be free of GMOs, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. You can really taste the difference in quality in their products and we love knowing the animals were raised with care and compassion.

Joyous Tip: Save money and support Canadian businesses by purchasing your staples from Rise Market. They have a strict vetting process and all producers are also required to meet their standards for production, environmental footprint, and company mission. They also offer these amazing products for 20%-40% cheaper than the grocery store. You can save 20% off a yearly membership with the code JOY20.


5. Shop Sustainable Clothing

Investing in long-lasting, sustainable clothing is a great way to keep textiles out of the landfill while supporting sustainable agricultural practices. In fact, about 80% of Vienna’s clothing is made from sustainable bamboo or second hand. I love buying products made from bamboo because they are soft and cozy as can be and grow super fast, making this textile a planet-friendly choice.

A theme you may have noticed in this list is reducing our reliance on plastics. Not only are plastics endocrine disrupting and major contributors to pollution, they are also completely reliant on fossil fuels for production. If we want to move away from the effects of fossil fuels into a world of sustainable energy, reducing our reliance on plastic products is an important step.

What does plastic have to do with clothing? Well I bet you didn’t know that clothing made from synthetic materials is a major contributor to plastic pollution. These items shed microplastics as they are worn, washed, and dried. Microplastics are tiny, but they can have a big impact on the environment, especially the health of our oceans. For all the details on the dirty secrets of the fast fashion industry, listen to this podcast episode with Kristi Soomer , the founder of Encircled, one of my favourite local, slow fashion brands.

Even though sustainable clothing may be more expensive up front, it will typically last a lot longer and it won’t shed harmful microplastics into the environment. I’ve had one dress from Encircled for over five years and it still looks amazing, despite regular wear.

Joyous Tip: Shop for clothes made from other sustainable textiles. In addition to bamboo, look for clothes made from organic cotton (conventional cotton is one of the world’s most highly sprayed crops), organic hemp, organic linen, tencel, or recycled cotton.

6. Hit the Thrift Shop

If shopping for sustainable clothing made from bamboo or organic cotton isn’t in your budget, you can still help keep textiles out of landfills by embracing the thrill of thrift shopping.

Every year there is an estimated 92 tonnes of textiles that are wasted and about the equivalent of one garbage truck’s worth of clothing ends up in a landfill every. Single. Day.

Making a switch from fast fashion to thrift shopping is a great way to shop sustainably and still find unique and cute clothing. Remember that a tailor is your best friend when it comes to thrift shopping. A few quick stitches can take something from drab to fab in no time.

Joyous Tip: Thrift shopping isn’t just great for clothing. You can find everything from furniture to home decor to books and kitchen appliances at thrift shops, in online marketplaces, or on trade websites such as Bunz. The thrill of the hunt for the perfect piece makes thrifting fun and sustainable.

I hope these tips inspire and empower you to take small actions to live more sustainably. We only get one planet to live on and if we don’t take care of her, who will? I know I want to leave behind a world for Vienna that is healthy and beautiful, which is why I’m committed to living these practices every day.

Joy xo

Allison V.   •   February 20, 2024

Great tips! Thanks, Joy!


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