PEOPLE Staffers Share the Tips, Tricks and Products They Used to Become More Eco-friendly This Year

In honor of Earth Day 2021, PEOPLE staffers are sharing the changes they made and how they did it — from switching to sustainable beauty products to going off the grid

01 of 13

Buying Used, Reselling and Donating

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Getty Images

"Being a parent feels impossibly planet-destroying: The diapers! The car seats! The fact that they outgrow shoes every four minutes! So I've tried to use the time I got back from my commute on spending a bit more time on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace finding things used and researching places to resell or donate the stuff my kids outgrow. I've also become a big fan of resale site ThredUp, both to help clean out our closets and to restock on the next sizes up."

— Alex Apatoff, Digital Lifestyle Director

02 of 13

Trying Out a Subscription Service That Helps Eliminate Food Waste

"This year, especially as we all tried to stay inside more often and limit our trips to the store, I found myself signing up for a subscription for Imperfect Foods. You can choose the frequency of your deliveries, saving money and saving food from going to waste. Some of the items have cosmetic imperfections, others are irregular sizes — I got some truly giant carrots that I wouldn't stop showing people on FaceTime — and others are just surplus.

My first order alone saved 12 lbs. of food waste, conserved 480 gallons of water and prevented 41 lbs. of carbon dioxide, to put it in perspective!"

— Andrea Wurzburger, Features Writer

03 of 13

Going (Sort of) Off the Grid

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Courtesy Charlotte Triggs

"This is the year I became an amateur doomsday prepper. I invested in a generator, as well as a decent backstock of canned goods, and of course toilet paper. But the biggest change came when my husband Freddy and I decided to move our family from the huge media commuter town of Montclair, New Jersey, a little farther out, where suburbs start giving way to farmland. We're growing our own fruits and vegetables, making jam, keeping bees (though, like straight out of a cartoon, a bear came in the middle of the night and ate all the honey last fall), and, most recently, keeping chickens and ducks. It's not totally easy … all those nature-inspired clichés turn out to be based on real things: pecking orders exist, foxes really do try to get into the hen house … But we've finally got the hang of it and I hope my daughters Tatjana, 6, and twins Ofelia and Indira, 3, will learn some kind of life lesson they wouldn't have otherwise, every time I have them throw a cup of dried worms in for the chickens."

Charlotte Triggs, Managing Editor, People Digital

04 of 13

Chatting With the Electric Company

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Getty Images

"I called ComEd and had them change my energy source to CleanChoice, which means I'm still getting electricity from the same place for about the same cost, but it comes from wind/solar plants rather than fossil fuels. It was a snap — the most annoying thing about it was waiting on hold."

— Alex Apatoff, Digital Lifestyle Director

05 of 13

Trying Out Solar Energy

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Courtesy Diane Cho

"My all-time favorite eco-friendly swap has got to be my window solar charger from Grouphug. All you need to do is hang it in a sunny spot in your home and you can use solar energy to charge any of your electronic devices. I use it to charge my phone and iPad, and everyone who comes over always asks about it. It's an awesome item to gift to friends and family to jumpstart their sustainable journey."

Diane J. Cho, Features Editor

06 of 13

Attempting Composting

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Courtesy Kate Hogan

"Composting is something I've been wanting to try for a while now, and I got lucky: just a few weeks ago, our town started a program. We drop our food scraps and food-soiled paper products into a small bucket in our kitchen (no smell, I promise!) and every week our waste management company picks it all up along with our garbage and recycling. I think a taxpayer program like this is still a rarity, but there are a lot of affordable private companies near major U.S. cities that will take your food scraps — and some will even process and return them to you to use in your yard. Food waste accounts for more than 25 percent of landfill material and can emit harmful gases when decomposing, so this small step we're taking as a family feels like it could eventually lead to big change."

Kate Hogan, Digital Specials Director

07 of 13

Sourcing Food Locally

"If you like the idea of a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share but are afraid of getting buckets of zucchini every week, try again! We found that many of them got super tech-savvy over the pandemic — the Chicago-area one we chose, Tomato Mountain, lets you customize your box weekly and add on other goodies like bread or dairy right in your online cart. There are also cool new concepts popping up, like Evanston's Village Farmstand (where you can place an order online based on what they have in stock and pick it up a few hours later) or Cornelia McNamara's flower subscription (you sign up for four weeks of delivery and get an arrangement of whatever's freshest/prettiest from her Chicago farm that week)."

— Alex Apatoff, Digital Lifestyle Director

08 of 13

Remembering Reusable Bags!

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Getty Images

"It's not much, but I have finally started making it a priority to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store most weeks. I use the plastic ones they give out for cat-litter waste at home, but in the past have been lazy about just letting them pile up at my house and told myself since I was recycling the extras, it was okay. Now, I always keep the canvas bags in my car so I don't forget to bring them, and only go for plastic at the checkout when I'm running really low at home!

I also regularly lecture my mom about single-use plastic water bottles, and I think I might be finally getting through — but stay tuned."

— Jen Juneau, News Writer

09 of 13

Buying Usable Sustainable Items

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Courtesy Amazon

"Eco-friendly products don't do anyone any good (including the planet) if we just buy them and leave them sitting in our kitchen drawers. When the reusable straw craze began, I wanted to be doing my part, but I barely used the metal straws I bought because it never felt like I could get them clean (even with that tiny little brush). This year, I bought Rain straws, which snap apart for easy cleaning. Knowing that there isn't bacteria lurking around makes me feel better and I actually use them every day."

— Andrea Wurzburger, Features Writer

10 of 13

Switching to Natural and Sustainable Deodorant

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
By Humankind

"The beauty industry is one of the biggest culprits of plastic waste. Luckily, it's also easier to opt for more sustainable alternatives to things like shampoo, floss and toothpaste. I decided to zero in on one cosmetic product in particular: deodorant. Deodorant packaging is composed of many small plastic parts, making it tricky to recycle. So I switched from single-use to By Humankind's refillable deodorant. You buy a container and only need to refill the deodorant stick, available for one-time purchase or on a subscription basis in many different scents. Plus, you get periodic emails updating you on how much waste you've reduced — I've eliminated 4 oz. of single-use plastic waste so far!"

Amelia Langas, Digital Platforms Writer

11 of 13

Using Refillable Cleaners

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers

"I'm a huge fan of Cleancult and their refill bundles. They sell glass spray bottles and containers for their soap, cleaning solutions and laundry detergent, so all you need to do is purchase their 100 percent recyclable refills and you're good to go. I've used one glass container for hand soap for my bathroom and one for my kitchen for years, and I just got their new foaming hand sanitizer that I keep near my front door. They've also committed to a shipping model that's sustainable and carbon neutral, and I love how they use non-toxic chemicals in their formulas."

Diane J. Cho, Features Editor

12 of 13

Switching from Single-Use

Earth Day Advice from PEOPLE Staffers
Courtesy Amazon

"I stopped buying single-use cotton rounds and got 100 percent organic reusable ones on Amazon. I've also cut down on buying paper towels and have used kitchen towels to clean up my messes. They're small changes but they add up once you realize how much you're buying and only using once before throwing everything away."

Diane J. Cho, Features Editor

13 of 13

Get a Reusable Water Bottle

Earth Day tips
Morgan Smith; S'Well

"Did you know more than 60 million water bottles are thrown away in the United States every year?! That fact was enough to scare me into buying a reusable water bottle — and it's one of the best investments I've ever made. My S'Well bottle comes everywhere with me. It keeps liquids cold for hours and reduces your carbon footprint. It's a win-win."

— Morgan Smith, Editorial Assistant

Related Articles