Good Questions is our regular Goodnewspaper segment — here to help you learn more about the topics that matter to you. For this issue, you asked us questions about sustainability on Instagram. The Good Answers on this page come from the Good Good Good team and community.
Q: What is the single most impactful everyday change you can make? — Chelsea
Q: I'm a freelance artist, and I've been wanting to get some eco-friendly shipping products. Any good items? — Kajira
Q: How big is the initial investment in living sustainably? From what I've seen, it seems cost-prohibitive for me and others. — Stephannie
GGG: A lot of influencers show off their expensive and cool sustainable products, and it makes sustainability feel like a big investment. But the number one thing you can do is not buy things you don't need. Use what you have. And slowly buy sustainably when you need something new.
Q: Can leaving chargers plugged in overnight (with or without devices) cause emissions? — Claudia
GGG: According to a New York Times article, leaving devices (like TVs, routers, and appliances) in idle power mode makes up a quarter of all residential energy consumption. A MacBook charging cord alone is probably fine, but leaving a charged MacBook plugged in will use a lot of power. The article recommends using a power strip to easily turn off groups of appliances and electronics at once.
Q: How can I make sustainable food choices with a lot of dietary restrictions and no car? — Yadi
GGG: Generally, minimizing animal products is the best diet change you can make for the environment. If your dietary restrictions make that challenging, just try to reduce where you can and then find a different way to be sustainable. (Not owning a car is already making a difference!)
Q: How can teenagers make a difference? — Alexandra
GGG: You have a unique advantage over adults in creating change. Can you and fellow students lobby your school district to change suppliers on various products to be more green? Can you request more meatless cafeteria options? Can you get a meeting with an elected official or a CEO easier than an adult can? (Yes!)
Q: What's the best way to go about starting to wear clothing that is more sustainable? — Mary
GGG: 1. Start with just buying less and remixing what you already own. 2. Try buying secondhand IRL or on Poshmark to cut down on new manufacturing and potential waste. 3. Lastly, when you recognize a need for a piece of clothing (a staple or capsule piece), choose to buy a higher quality, sustainably made version. It'll be more expensive, but it'll make up for it by lasting years longer than fast fashion. (Fast fashion workers are treated poorly, and the quick turnover of textiles is bad for the environment.)
Q: How can I make takeout meals more sustainable? — Christopher
GGG: Even though it's potentially annoying, always specify that you do not need extra utensils, sauces, or plastic bags. Leave positive reviews with restaurants that use paper-based packaging. And if you live in a city like Portland, Oregon, look for services like goboxpdx.com, which share reusable containers.
Q: Should I feel guilty if I have medical needs that conflict with sustainable practices? — Marissa
GGG: Not at all! There are a million ways to make a difference, and it's OK if there are certain things that aren't possible. Just do what you can. No shame.
Q: How can I make sustainable health and beauty choices with lots of common skin allergies? — Katelyn
GGG: Check out the app and website thegoodfaceproject.com for details on ingredients. And cross-reference with sustainability blogs like goingzerowaste.com. And we'll be keeping an eye out for an easier solution too that combines both.