Mornings are all about fresh starts, so why not use a daily wake-up routine to be more sustainable and eco-friendly?
And that leads to the next big question: Where to begin?
The answer, according to Mimi Ausland, co-founder and CEO of Free the Ocean, a company that works to educate people on how to make the planet more sustainable and rid our oceans of plastic, is simple: start small.
"It can be a little overwhelming to try and make everything sustainable all at once, so I recommend starting with one area. Take it a step at a time," Ausland told TMRW. Here are some ideas.
When you roll, stretch or spring out of bed ...
1. Set the mood for sustainability
"I try and keep it really simple in the bedroom — minimalist. I try not to keep phone next to me, I have an old-fashioned alarm clock, I keep plants in the room. I'm a strong believer that if you're surrounded by more plants and more natural lighting, you're going to wake up and try to live more sustainably," Ausland told TMRW.
2. Choose bedding that makes an impact
Some companies are aiming to use less water in production and use materials that are recycled or made from natural fibers. If your bedding is past its prime or if you want to support home decor brands with sustainable initiatives and donate what you have now, there's a lot of good options out there. While materials that are less taxing on the environment often cost more, like Parachute sheets, they also tend to last longer. Ausland recommends thinking of budgeting for this as an investment in what you own (and an investment in the Earth, of course).
Avocado Green Mattress, for example, was the first in its field to become Climate Neutral Certified. In addition to mattresses, the company also sells furniture to help maximize space and minimize clutter with various materials like reclaimed wood.
3. Need furniture? Buy used
A cost-saving solution for living sustainably is to tap into the endless supply of already used goods. We're not saying to grab a dirty mattress of the side of the road, but finding a used teak nightstand? Why not!?
"If you can avoid buying new from the bigger, more well-known furniture companies, you can find some really great reused things that are reducing your impact," Ausland told TMRW.
When you get ready and wash up ...
Before buying sustainable products for the bathroom (or anywhere else in the house), it's wise to verify the brand. If you're searching for some bamboo toothbrushes, for example, do a little research on the manufacturer directly. This will help you determine if it's the type of brand you want to support. Following Instagram accounts of sustainable nonprofits or environmental activists can also be a helpful way to find reliable brands that follow green initiatives.
4. Brush your teeth
"In the U.S. alone, 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are purchased and thrown away every year. Bamboo is fully compostable but can also be used for cleaning," Ausland told TMRW. "I choose bamboo toothbrushes over electric, which may last longer but will still end up being part of the waste."
Once your toothbrush has had its share of use, try to repurpose it to clean other items, like sneakers or dusty corners of the house.
And instead of buying plastic toothpaste tubes over and over (and over) again, try an alternative, like toothpaste tabs, which you chew before brushing your teeth. There are also mouthwash tablets or liquid oil pulling mouthwash alternatives that come in recyclable and refillable glass bottles.
"The bonus is they look really cute," Ausland added.
5. Moisturize your face
Ausland suggests buying face creams that come in a glass jar and makeup that comes in paper tubes, glass or compostable packaging.
"They typically contain more natural, easy-to-understand ingredients. These two things usually go hand-in-hand, so (they're) often better for your skin," she added.
6. Care for your hair
When it's time for a shower, Ausland recommends using products that don't come in plastic bottles. With a quick search on Pinterest or Instagram, there are DIY formulas made from easy-to-find ingredients that are worth testing out. Ausland, who dyes her hair blonde, has also found that shampoo and conditioner bars (packaged just like a typical bar of soap) work really well and have no packaging — i.e., no waste!
She also opts for bamboo hairbrushes and elastic-free hair ties, which break down at the end of their lives.
"They look exactly like normal hair ties, (but they) pull the hair less," Ausland told TMRW.
When you enjoy some breakfast ...
7. Limit meat and buy fresher ingredients in bulk
While a big, meat-filled breakfast can be a nice treat, limiting meat consumption (especially beef) has been proven by scientists to help the environment and be better for your body.
Buying produce, grains and cereals in bulk can also be beneficial for reducing waste and saving money. And when you find produce for smoothies or fruit bowls, try and buy options that aren't prepackaged. If it's hard to buy fresh, some brands, such as Pitaya, package their frozen fruits and veggies in recyclable bags and use environmentally friendly methods like regenerative farming.
8. Try reusable products for coffee and tea
Whether you prefer herbal teas or a strong espresso, Ausland says that this part of your morning routine is a great place to go green. For tea, try brewing looseleaf in a reusable strainer. For coffee, French presses can last decades and come in various sizes to brew as much coffee as you'd like without a disposable filter. For those who prefer an automatic drip coffee maker, try metal sieves or cloth coffee filters that can be washed over and over for years of delicious brew.
9. Learn how to compost
"Composting: That's one of the best things you can do," Ausland told TMRW. "Composting helps reduce 50% of landfill waste."
There are simple ways to compost whether you have a garden or live in an urban area where you can donate your old produce and food waste. This can of course be done morning, noon and night but it's a perfect way to kick off your day in the most sustainable way!