5 Sustainable Hacks to the City

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Hi, everyone! I'm so happy to have one of my best friends, Erin Moylan, on the blog again. Erin has strongly influenced my transition to a more environmentally friendly way of life and she's has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. Not only that, but she really practices what she preaches. I asked if she would be willing to give some tips on how to start that transition to a more environmentally friendly, sustainable lifestyle for a) people just starting out who want to make a change and b) for city dwellers. She gave us five (plus one bonus) easy, affordable tips and I provided plenty of links so you can find the products she recommends. Without further ado, here are Erin's recommendations:

5 Sustainable Hacks to the City

1. Stainless water bottle

We all need to hydrate more anyway and you can refill it anywhere (Starbucks is the real mvp here, they’ll fill it at the counter for you). Take it to the movie theatre and use one of those cool coke machines to fill with water--or if you’re feeling frisky, a little diet coke--but I never do that.

Stainless bottles are a little pricey, but they are such a smart investment. My boyfriend still uses the Klean Kanteen I bought him 6 years ago, everyday. You can buy different mouth pieces along the way too which minimizes cabinet space--one water bottle can become a carafe, coffee mug, etc.


2. Reusable shopping bags

I know, we all forget them. But find one you can fold or wad up tight to toss in your bag. If you forget your bag, always get paper if it’s an option OR if they only have plastic bags, do you really need a bag for the items you’re getting? I end up carrying a lot of things which just don’t warrant their own bag. I love canvas totes because you can launder them and you probably have a few lying around.


3. Fork & Spoon

I swear this is the easiest one--just make your life easier and do it. Keep a fork & spoon in your bag. Grab them from your silverware drawer now and put them in your bag. At least if you get take out, you have your own cutlery and you can leave the plastic ish behind. Those plastic forks suck anyway...unless you enjoy eating your salad one spinach leaf at a time…


4. Reusable container of some sort

If you’re planning to go out to eat, bring something for potential leftovers. Even if you’re going on a date, don’t you want to spend time with someone who thinks your waste consciousness is cool?! Bring your reusable tupperware, you nerdy, sexy beast!

I’ve been using this stainless tiffin for a couple years. It’s airtight so I know nothing is going to leak in my bag if I pack my lunch. Also, look around at home. You definitely have some tupperware, or next time you finish something that comes in a glass jar, i.e. salsa, peanut butter, sauerkraut, yogurt, keep the container, wash and reuse for leftovers or meal prep.


THESE tiffins are great, too.

5. Cloth bulk bags

Ok, this is a little bit more involved, but still very easy once you get in the habit. When you go to the grocery store, do you shop in the bulk bins or head straight for the package of whatever you’ve run out of? If you’ve stared at the bulk bins and wondered, wtf, you might meet your newest favorite thing. I love the bulk bins for the variety and price. If you’re sick of quinoa, try some wild rice this week, switch up what kinds of beans you’ve been getting, and it’s perfect for getting things in bulk like oats and nuts. You can get however much you’d like without worrying the rest of the package will go bad. The best part is skipping the packages entirely! There are usually plastic bags around the bulk area for you to fill, but I say, screw them and bring my own bags. I eventually broke down and bought bags specifically for this purpose, but I used to use whatever little cloth bags I could find. Then there are little pieces of paper or stickers to write the SKU or PLU numbers on, but I put them in my phone and read them to the cashier.

Wet these bags and use them to keep produce fresh in the refrigerator or pack some nuts and snacks in one for the day. You can also launder them with your canvas shopping bags!

These are the bags I use for everything:


Bonus: My most favorite hack--WF and most other natural foods grocers have a station to grind fresh peanut butter. I bring my big peanut butter jar (you can reuse one, but I invested in a larger jar so I could really stock up) which I fill every couple weeks. I end up saving a lot of money and I don’t have a dinky little pb jar to toss every time I’m finished--I just wash my jar, fill it to the brim, then put it right back in my cabinet. You can skip all the pricey designer pb (when did this become a thing) and get the freshest, yummiest, least artificial stuff there is.

Just weigh you jar beforehand (mine weighs 1.39) and tell the cashier the tare of the jar so they only charge you for the PB, not the weight of the glass. Insider tip: write the weight on the bottom of the jar in sharpie.

I use a 750 ml Le Parfait terrine for my PB. You can usually find them & a lot of other similar glass jars at Home Goods!


Other brands & companies I love:

Keep Cup - Laura's favorite on Amazon:


Thanks, Erin!! You can find Erin HERE!

As always, if you have tips or environmentally friendly products you're loving in particular right now, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to link them below in the comments and if you have questions for Erin or myself, we're definitely here. :D

What's your favorite sustainable hack?

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Erin is a yogi, writer, artist, reader and environmentalist. She currently lives in NYC! Find her here.