We live on such a beautiful, diverse planet, and I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced so much of it. From lush and green spaces, rainforests, beautiful beaches and oceans, mountain ranges, glaciers, and tropical paradises, there are truly endless natural wonders.
It’s sad to think that future generations may not get to experience everything we have today, but it’s a very real possibility. The decline in our natural resources and environment that we’ve seen over the last few centuries is happening at an alarming rate.
I don’t want to dive too deeply into the fragile state that our ecosystem is in, but to put it simply, our current practices are not sustainable. If we don’t make some drastic changes, our resources will quite literally run dry.
If we each take accountability for our everyday actions and do our part, these small steps will have a big impact!
There are many simple ways that we can help sustain our resources and reverse some of the damage that has been done. Below are just 10 ways to be more eco-friendly as a travel nurse.
Ways to be more eco-friendly
Avoid single-use plastic and waste items when possible.
Plastic is made to last, and when it’s not reused or recycled, it can persist in a landfill for centuries—or even worse, float in our waters for thousands of years, broken down into microplastics. Over the last couple of years, I’ve slowly been replacing all of my household items with alternatives that reduce my plastic consumption.
I love my reusable water bottle, reusable sandwich bags, grocery bags, and mesh produce bags. Items sold in glass or metal are always a great choice too! Even better, bring your own containers and buy your produce and shelf staples from the bulk section instead of pre-packaged items.
Use eco-conscious cleaning and household items.
There are so many amazing products out there, and new ones are constantly being released. Try plastic-free laundry detergent, dishwasher pods, cleaning sprays in reusable glass bottles, paper products made of bamboo fiber, beeswax wraps instead of cling wrap, or reusable straws.
With so many amazing inventions, there’s almost no need to only use something one time! Utilizing compostable or biodegradable materials when possible is also better than regular plastics.
Throw your recyclables into the bin, and they get reused—simple enough, right? Well, recycling is actually pretty complicated and can take a couple of extra steps. For example, make sure there’s no food residue left on the items, labels are removed if necessary, mixed materials are separated, and that the materials you’re putting out are actually in need.
Sadly, if there’s no market demand for certain materials, the suppliers won’t pay to reprocess them, and they’ll still end up in the landfill. In addition, some items that are recyclable need to be taken to special drop areas, such as plastic bags. Unfortunately, less than 10% of plastic used is actually recycled, and this is in need of reform. For more information on what/how to recycle, check your city’s regulations.
Eat less meat products and eat more plant-based.
Livestock farming is absolutely non-sustainable for our planet, and the amount of meat products we consume as a population is absurd. The amount of land and water it takes to produce enough grains to feed the animals is eroding our topsoil. As a result, we have less viable land to produce our own needed grains and produce that we could be eating instead of meat. Secondly, the byproducts of the animals and farms produce an enormous amount of greenhouse (carbon) emissions.
Eating more plant-based and vegan foods reduces these waste products and the resulting harm to our ecosystem. I’ve transitioned into a mostly plant-based diet and absolutely love it. I’m not expecting everyone to go vegan tomorrow but start small by cutting meat out of your diet for just a few meals each week. Then slowly cut back more and more—this helps ease into new habits.
By reducing our meat intake, we could actually practice responsible, pasture-raised livestock. This could work in harmony with the environment and allow us to consume healthier meat products in moderation. Plus, eating a plant-based diet has huge health benefits!
Use responsible means of transportation.
One day, we’ll all own electric cars, and gasoline-run engines will be long gone. But for now, choosing to walk, bike, carpool, use public transportation, or even opt for Uber Green are ways to cut down on carbon emissions.
Fun fact: ground transportation uses a fraction of the greenhouse gases that airplanes do, so opting to travel by car, train, or bus instead of flying when possible helps. This also means supporting local businesses or companies who use only ground transportation is beneficial.
Grow plants and start a vegetable garden.
Plants consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. House plants and herb and vegetable gardens are great ways to contribute and even save on some grocery costs! Another great practice some major cities are using is vertical gardening on the outside of buildings to help combat some of the carbon emissions.
Not going to lie; composting is something I’ve just started to research, and as someone who travels for work, taking a compost with me isn’t very practical. However, I finally have a rental unit with group compost and I’m so happy to contribute!
Composting helps keep a wide variety of paper and organic materials out of landfills. So instead of releasing greenhouse gases, they add rich material to enhance the soil we grow plants with, which then consume carbon. It’s such a win-win!
Eat less take-out and to-go food.
Have you ever noticed how much space take-out boxes and containers take up in the trash and recycling? It’s so unnecessary! If you want to eat out, opt to dine in when you’re not cooking at home.
Conserve energy at home.
It’s easy to forget that the power you use in your house costs more than what you see on your utility bill. Electricity, water, and gas all have an impact on the environment, so being conscious of what you’re using is important.
Unplugging electric devices when they’re not being used, using only necessary lighting sources and LED bulbs, and using water sparingly are ways to save energy at home. And although many of us are not homeowners yet, utilizing renewable sources for power such as solar paneling is idealistic.
Support B-Corp certified and local businesses when possible.
If you’re not familiar, B-corp certified businesses are accountable for their environmental impact and have full transparency of their practices—among many other strict qualifications.
There’s no doubt that being environmentally friendly takes extra effort and is usually more costly but supporting these types of businesses allows them to continue their conscious efforts and encourages other businesses to do the same.
Be mindful of where you shop, especially when online shopping. Avoid mega-corporations that mass produce, package, and ship their items irresponsibly. Many of your local businesses use significantly fewer resources—the products don’t have to travel as far to reach the store, and they also save on packaging. I love finding unique products that I can feel good about spending the extra dollars on. Plus, it supports your local economy.
By reducing our carbon emissions and finding ways to reverse the damage that has been done, there is hope for a greener future. Everyone leaves a carbon footprint—let’s make it as small as possible!
We can make these changes not only for ourselves to breathe cleaner air and put more natural substances into our bodies but so future generations can experience this beautiful Earth.
Smile at the world, and she’ll smile back!
We hope you found this article on ways to be more eco-friendly helpful. Do you try to be more eco-friendly? What ways have you found to be eco-friendly that we didn’t mention in this article? Comment any eco-friendly tips you may have below.