My sustainable weekly routine

If you’re trying to save the world (even one step at a time), the most effective way to stay consistent is to form a sustainable weekly routine. Occasionally remembering your reusable water bottle is great, every little bit counts. But using your water bottle each and every day can save thousands of tonnes of plastic from landfill over your lifetime.

Eco-friendly routines and habits allow you to easily live a sustainable lifestyle. But to successfully do this in a world that prioritises convenience is not an easy task. My sustainable weekly routine has been crafted from lots of trial and error.

What began as a weekly meal prep to lose weight helped me realise how much plastic (and money!) I saved each day compared to my colleagues who bought their lunches. From there, I switched to an eco-egg for laundry, saving plastic and toxins from entering the ocean (+ $$). Next, I looked for ways to bulk buy with less plastic, which forced me to organise all of my meals for the week.

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My sustainable behaviours became easier each week and my healthy habits continued to grow. Gradually phasing out meat and dairy as well as shopping at bulk stores allowed me to save a whole lot of money too.

If your life needs eco-friendly and sustainable routine, just start. Pick three things from below and commit to doing them one day this week. Afterwards, reward yourself with a vegan burger, a few episodes of your favourite TV series, a magnesium bath or another reward of your choosing!

My sustainable weekly routine at a glance:

  • Sustainable self-care Sunday
  • Getting in the garden
  • Meal prepping meals
  • Zeroing in on food waste
  • Bulk bins for the win
  • Eco-friendly cleaning
  • Supporting small businesses
  • Creating a zero waste bag
  • Composting food scraps
  • Airing out the house

Find out more with my sustainable routines series:

Self-care Sunday: Sustainability edition

It’s important to take some time for yourself each week to rest and recharge. This can involve mental relaxation such as meditation, journaling or gentle walking. It can also involve chucking on a face and hair mask and catching up on reality television. If the latter is your jam, aim for beauty brands that have sustainable and ethical products.

There’s also been a movement towards face masks and exfoliators that come in powdered forms for you to mix with water yourself. This method saves carbon by not shipping around water and allows for more product in the same amount of packaging. Don’t forget to use a washable cotton makeup round instead of a disposable to apply your toner.

Get in the garden (or pots!)

Gardening is a great pastime that allows you to reconnect with nature. Some of gardening’s biggest fans include Oprah, Nicole Kidman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julia Roberts and Gwyneth Paltrow. Whether you’ve got a big garden to work with or room for only a few pots on your window sill, growing anything is a satisfying hobby. If you grow something edible or bee-friendly, even better.

Meal prep

The rise of single-portion meals and pre-prepared convenience food has fuelled the plastic crisis. Cooking your own food is one of the easiest ways to save money and plastic.

Here in the UK, I often see people buy a two-ingredient sandwich wrapped in cardboard and plastic for lunch. It takes them two minutes to finish their sandwich, but the plastic packaging will be on the planet for the next 500+ years.

Meal prepping is the easiest solution. There are three simple paths you can choose:

  • ‘Muscle-food’ prep – Made famous by gym junkies ‘gramming their weekly meal preps with five to seven identical meals in matching containers.
    • Pros: One big cook (and one big clean up) can set your meals up for the whole week.
    • Cons: A lack of meal variety.
  • Leftovers prep – As simple as cooking extra for dinner the evening before and throwing the excess in a container for lunch the next day.
    • Pros: Allows for variety by effortlessly providing new lunches each day.
    • Cons: Requires on-the-day effort that can be forgotten/thrown out the window on busy days.
  • Ingredients prep – For fussy eaters or those who enjoy cooking, Sundays can be used for planning meals and prepping ingredients to easily cook later.
    • Pros: Any kind of meal organisation will reduce food waste.
    • Cons: Requires on-the-day effort that can be forgotten/thrown out the window on busy days.

When beginning your sustainable weekly routine, lean into the first pathway that jumped out at you. A little bit of prep work can save you a whole lot of time, money, wasted food and single-use plastic.

This eco-friendly and sustainable weekly routine features plastic-free meal prep, natural cleaning products and other zero waste ideas. It'll save you money and help the planet!

Zero in on food waste

Meal prepping and general food organisation is also a great way to prevent food waste. It’s estimated that 1.3 billion tonnes (yep, with a B) of food is wasted globally each year which equates to 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. In some countries, more than 1/3 of this waste occurs in households.

I was previously a serial food waster, buying ingredients that were on special and grocery shopping without a plan. These are the easiest ways to waste food. Stop food waste by taking a few minutes each week to find a recipe or two and buying just those ingredients, especially when it comes to fresh produce.

Buying in bulk is only cheaper if you use all of the food.

Bulk bins for the win

Old-fashioned bulk shopping has made a comeback in the anti-plastic revolution. It’s quite a bit of fun too. Bulk shopping is dependent on whether you have a bulk store nearby. Zero Waste Home has a helpful resource for this and a Google search can do wonders.

Bulk buying is great for the planet as your ingredients don’t come in single-use plastic. Meanwhile, buying ingredients in their dried forms (think pulses and rice) means less carbon was used to transport them around than their canned or packaged counterparts. Packaging accounts for around 15% of a product’s cost, meaning you’re saving money too.

For those who haven’t bulked before, here’s a rundown:

  1. Find a local bulk store.
  2. BYO glass jars, plastic containers, cotton produce bags and/or paper bags.
  3. If using your own containers, tare the weight of it before filling it (as you’re paying per gram/ounce). Depending on the system, you may get a printed tag or someone will write the weight on the container to subtract.
  4. Fill your chosen vessel with whichever product you desire. Rice, oats, chickpeas, lentils and dates work well.
  5. If using an automated sticker system, scan the tare weight first, weigh the container and then select the product you’ve filled it with. A price sticker should be generated. If the store has a manual system, find a human and ask them how to pay for your goods.
  6. Voila, plastic-free and cheap groceries.

As previously said, bulk buying is only cheaper if you actually use all of the food. Take it easy when you first add bulk buying to your sustainable weekly routine and start small.

Eco-friendly cleaning

Most of us are aware of the toxic chemicals lurking in conventional cleaning products. It’s no surprise these nasties are bad for the planet too. Not to mention all the single-use cleaning items and difficult-to-recycle packing most cleaning products come in.

Try switching to eco-friendly products with refill options or concentrate forms. You can also have a go at making your own. If you pay for a cleaning service, provide your cleaner with non-toxic products to use. Bonus points if they’re refillable or plastic-free.

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Environmentally-friendly laundry

How you wash and dry your clothes can have a huge environmental impact. A sustainable laundry routine should focus on reducing plastic waste and microplastic runoff while conserving water and electricity. Here’s how:

  • Re-wear clothes a few times before washing, especially with synthetic fabrics
  • Only wash once you have a full load
  • Wash using cold water and on an eco setting
  • Use non-toxic washing liquid/powder or an eco egg
  • Capture microplastics while washing
  • Air dry clothes (an extra spin cycle can help)

Support small businesses

Whether you need to buy something specific, are heading out for a meal or you’re shopping out of habit or boredom, take a minute to think where your money is going.

If your online shopping cart is full, save the postage plastic and delivery carbon emissions by going to the store. Switch out malls and shopping centres for farmers and craft markets. Go to a local independent cafe for a coffee as opposed to a big chain. Shop around for your groceries as opposed to relying on supermarkets.

There are endless ways to vote for a better world with your dollars, you just have to look.

Create a zero waste kit

Avoiding single-use plastic and creating less unnecessary waste requires organisation. After all, you only need a disposable coffee cup if you forgot your reusable one. Packing a day bag with zero waste essentials can be a game-changer.

Depending on your lifestyle, these could be a combination of the following:

  • Reuseable coffee cup
  • Cutlery
  • Reuseable container or jar
  • Menstrual cup
  • Produce bags
  • Reuseable water bottle
  • Foldable shopping bag or plastic bag
  • Handkerchief
  • Stainless steel straw

Having essentials in your bag at all times is the best way to avoid single-use waste. Sunday is a great time to ensure they’re all clean and ready to go.

Compost your food scraps

Composting is one of the most important things we can do individually to limit carbon emissions. In most places, the linear economy doesn’t see the nutrients from food waste return back to the earth. Instead, they are left to ferment in plastic bags in landfill which forms methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28x more potent than carbon dioxide.

If you have a backyard, even a tiny one, you can compost at home. If this isn’t an option, check to see if your council collects food waste. No help? Check for local services that do. You can also explore apartment composting options such as worm farms, bokashi bins or electronic composting. It’s the perfect eco-friendly habit to include in your sustainable weekly routine.

Air out your home

Growing up in Australia, I’m accustomed to homes with open windows, screen doors and lots of fresh air. And rightly so, indoor air is usually three times more polluted than the air outside – even in major cities!

This has led to the rise of air fresheners that allow consumers to spray synthetic and toxic chemicals around their home to cover up musty and mouldy smells. Of course, these usually come in difficult-to-recycle plastic or aerosol containers. Oh, and they cost money.

The best thing you can do for your home is to open your windows and let fresh air circulate for at least 20 minutes per day. In the London winter, I try to do this when I’m out of the house running errands. If you just enjoy the smell of air fresheners, switch to an essential oil diffuser instead of conventional artificial fragrance bombs.

Don’t forget to pin this routine for later:

My eco-friendly and sustainable Sunday weekend routine involves meal prep, bulk shopping and eco-friendly cleaning.

Our convenience-focused and unsustainable societies have allowed many people to do away with weekly routines such as this one. Why spend a Sunday at the farmers market, in the garden or cooking up a storm when you can buy ready-made meals perfectly portioned and wrapped in plastic?

The answer to that is simple: it’s enjoyable. Sustainable weekly routines are good for our health, the earth and the bank balance.

If you’re not a routine person, you may find this all a little overwhelming. Check out the handy free guide I put together on how to create sustainable routines. It’s nearly impossible to live a more eco-friendly existence without being organised, yet we’re never taught how to do these simple sustainable activities in school! This guide fills that gap:

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If you vibed with this post, check out my sustainable routines series:

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