Let's face it: We're all too busy these days. We're overworked, spread too thin, and in desperate need of vacations, and so it's hard to find time to be as environmentally friendly as we could be. Naturally, high-effort things—like composting and raising chickens—fall to the bottom of our well-intentioned to-do lists.
Don't let the green guilt get the better of you! We put together a list of things you can do right now (seriously—right this second!) to live a more environmentally friendly life. Remember: Small changes make huge impacts.
1. Consider Buying Second-Day Flower Arrangements
A gorgeous flower arrangement can brighten your day but instead of buying brand new buds, consider nabbing some gently used blooms from Rebloom. Launched in December 2013, Rebloom resells opulent floral arrangements the next day for up to 90 percent off. The best part? A generous portion of the proceeds—usually 20 to 40 percent—go towards the charity of the donator's choice.
Here's how it works: brides, bar mitzvah moms, and event planners reach out to Rebloom to donate their flowers. "You literally just tell us when your event is ending and then we raise money for a charity of your choice," says Jennifer Soffen, founder of Rebloom. They'll coordinate a staff member to the event breakdown to pick up the flowers. Rebloom then emails local subscribers (they currently service Boston and New York City) to tell them what the arrangements look like, the original price, the Rebloom price, and which charity a portion of the proceeds will be donated to. "We usually do it within 12 hours. So usually if we pick up at midnight we deliver them the next morning."
2. Quit Your Plastic Water Bottle Habit
We're all for staying hydrated, but the environmental cost of plastic water bottles is far too high. A reported 88 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled and, instead, accumulate in landfills at an alarming rate taking thousands of years to decompose. Ditch your plastic bottle habit for a reusable container (the InStyle offices are huge fans of bkr's sleekly minimalist glass bottles). Not only will you be helping the environment and your wallet, you might even improve your health since the EPA's standards for tap water are sometimes more stringent than the FDA's standards for bottled water.
3. Stop Throwing Away Food
Did you know that food scraps are the No. 1 materials sent to landfills? In New York state alone, food garbage makes for one third of all residential trash—that's more than paper or plastic!
4. Pay Your Bills Online
By some estimates, if every household in the U.S. paid their bills online and switched to electronic statements, we'd save 18.5 million trees, 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste each year.
Not only does paying your bills online save paper, it also saves you postage—no more stamp scrambling!
5. Skip the Mall and Start Shopping Green
It's no secret that we love our wardrobes, but amount of clothing currently developed annually is making us rethink our shopping habits. The U.S. alone generates around 25 billion pounds of brand-new textiles per year—that's 82 pounds per U.S. resident! Eventually, 85 percent of that ends up in landfills.
Shop smarter by buying vintage and browsing eBay for gently used clothes you can give a new life to.
Got a wedding coming up? Consider renting a dress instead of investing in a beautiful, but one-time-wear outfit. Try Rent the Runway where you can borrow designer dresses like Lela Rose, Vera Wang, and Reem Acra for rates starting at $30.
—Additional reporting by Samantha Simon