Support sustainable cotton

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Updated on October 25, 2019

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Growing cotton is energy and water intensive. It can take 2,700 liters of water to produce enough cotton for a single t-shirt. To put that into perspective, that same amount of water could supply one person with drinking water for 900 days. In addition, cotton is considered one of the dirtiest crops due to its reliance on insecticides and other chemicals that decrease biodiversity and contaminate local water sources. Organic cotton is currently the most sustainable cotton available because it doesn’t rely on insecticides, soil nutrients and biodiversity are preserved, and it allows the soil to retain more water, thus needing less irrigated water. By choosing clothing made with organic cotton, you’re signaling that you value efforts to make the production of clothes and textiles more responsible. Also, look for brands that support The Better Cotton Initiative, which seeks to improve the social and environmental issues associated with cotton. Alternatives to cotton are slowly gaining traction and include hemp, tencel, bamboo, and even recycled plastic bottles.

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If you see restaurants, stores, or other types of companies that are incorporating sustainability, consider choosing these options and make your support for sustainability known. It encourages other businesses to become sustainable as well. You may also come across a nonprofit or community organization that you believe is doing valuable work. Why not donate or reach out to see how you can support their efforts? You can consider volunteering, even if it’s only for one day, to give back to the local area you’re visiting.

Carry and use washable, reusable utensils when possible.

Many airlines are now offering passengers the option to purchase carbon offsets when booking a flight, which means you can pay extra to fund a project that reduces GHG emissions, “neutralizing” your flight. Carbon offset projects include supporting forest conservation in California, capturing GHG emissions from landfills in South Carolina, or renewable energy in Texas. Airlines are also taking measures to reduce their own environmental impact such as making planes and fleets more energy efficient and looking for alternative sources of energy.

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Using reusable bags (cloth, paper, or plastic) or hand-carrying items (if you’re only picking up a few things) both are ways to cut down on plastic waste. Many cities have banned plastic bags altogether, and some stores now charge for bags that just a few years ago were free. Even if your city hasn’t made the move on plastic bags yet, you can take matters into your own hands by remembering your reusable bags.

We tend to make too much food for parties. This is especially true during the holidays since it’s usually part of the holiday culture to make sure everyone has all the food and beverage they can handle, and then some. This excess is ultimately bad for the environment. However, tracking your RSVPs closely and keeping a headcount should help you avoid making this classic mistake that ultimately contributes to food waste. Of course, some extra food is not disastrous (everyone loves leftovers), but it is something to be mindful of.

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