One of the things I love about living in Iowa City is its commitment to reducing, reusing and recycling. Most American towns this size don’t have electric buses, multiple vegan restaurants or such a strong cultural predilection toward preserving the environment. That predilection does occasionally result in things like being late to work because a bunch of hippies caused a traffic jam while picketing the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile (a thing that actually happened to me in 2016), but for the most part, it’s awesome!
However, as with anything you’re passionate about, it’s easy to go overboard. So, without further ado, here is my guide to saving the planet without losing your mind.
Thrift responsibly. Buying secondhand clothes is a great way to save money, reduce your carbon footprint and avoid supporting the exploitative fast fashion industry, but it’s not for everyone. For example, the girl I saw buying sexy lingerie from the secondhand section of Ragstock. Remember that pit-stained 2XL Hawaiian shirts are not, in fact, appropriate for every occasion.
Be considerate of those around you. If you want to save water, take shorter showers, not no showers. If you want to avoid exposure to chemicals, try natural deodorant, not no deodorant. If you want to reduce plastic waste, use a bamboo toothbrush, not no toothbrush. (Jason who has the cubicle next to mine, this one is for you, buddy.)
Put your health and safety first. “Liberating” discarded food from grocery store dumpsters is fine, if we’re talking about bruised apples or canned soup that’s a little past the sell-by date. Not so much when the food in question is slimy, green-ish chicken breast. Biking everywhere to save fuel is a good idea, but after two bottles of organic fruit wine, it’s probably a better one to lock it up and call a cab. I’m sure Gaia will forgive you.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 306.