At the end of 2018, I wrote an article called '10 Easy Ways to Live More Sustainably' which went into detail on various methods that can help us be more eco-friendly. I look back at it frequently to remind myself that doing my best to help our planet isn't generous, it's vital and can be easy, too!

Incorporating environmental consciousness into our everyday lives is more important than ever, because according to the UN global climate change report, we only have 12 years to protect Earth from catastrophe. Scary stuff.

In writing the article, I realized I had to make some investments in order to supplement becoming a more conscious consumer. Reusable water bottles, sustainable clothing, chemical free makeup, bamboo utensils... you get the picture.

The most difficult part was making a decision on which products to buy, as there is so much awesome technology out there now. It induced way more stress than being green should, which is why I compiled a list of the best of the best. It includes everything you need from beauty to food to fashion in order to be more successful at sustainability.

1. Water Bottles

As trivial as it may sound, it was almost impossible to choose a water bottle, as there are truly a million options out there. However, I narrowed it down. I'm a pretty clumsy person who's always on the run, so big-mouth water bottles don't really work for me. I want to walk and drink and not think about spilling. Plus, I messily throw everything into my bag and have spilled more water on my essays than I'd like to admit.

This is why I love bottles with straws, like the CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle for everyday. It's light, comes in a bunch of colors, and can take a fall. When working out or for the summer days I want to keep my water extra cold, I love the Contigo Autoseal Chill Stainless Steel Water Bottle. IMO, these are the best of the best when it comes to hydration.

2. Coffee Cup

I drink a crazy amount of coffee. One cup in the morning, one in the middle of my school day, and another at night so I can avoid crashing at my desk (if you're wondering—no, I don't sleep). Anyway, drinking at least one coffee out of my house means one single-use coffee cup a day. This sucks for the environment, as the "paper" cups we're using are actually lined with plastic, not to mention the plastic lids that are crowding landfills worldwide.

This is where rCUP comes in. It's a 360-degree coffee cup, meaning you can drink from any side, made from recycled paper coffee cups, and is unsurprisingly the brainchild of former Dyson designer, Dan Dicker. On top of all that, it's 100% recyclable, leak-proof, insulated to keep your drink hot, and lasts for at least 10 years. However, if you'd rather drink with a straw, this Contigo bottle will do the trick. At last, a sustainable way to fuel my caffeine addiction!

3. Utensils

Grabbing food on the go is a big part of some people's lives, but that sadly comes with being forced to use plastic utensils. By now, you can probably guess I'm gonna say that one-time use, plastic utensils are sh*t. To avoid this bad habit, I decided to keep a small pouch of reusable bamboo utensils in my bag. The light pouch includes 2 spoons, a knife, a fork, chopsticks, a straw, and a straw cleaner. It is small, easy, cheap, and sustainable.

4. Straws

I feel like this whole article is me ranting about how much I hate plastic, but I can't be done complaining until I mention straws—the antithesis of all things eco-friendly. There's genuinely no reason to use them anymore, as they're f*cking up our planet. Fortunately, there are tons of awesome alternatives.

If I'm being honest, paper straws are kinda gross, so I stick to silicon, glass, or collapsible stainless steel. The silicon option comes with 12 straws for under $9, and the glass ones come with 4 bent straws and 4 straight for about $8. Though the collapsible steel is a little pricier at $15 for 2 straws, it's the easiest to remember, as the straws fold into little cases that can attach to your keys or backpack.

5. Shoes

Yeah, even your sneakers can be bad for the earth. All the negative environmental repercussions of eating meat (greenhouse gas emissions and rainforest destruction, to start) are also associated with wearing leather. Tanneries rely on hexavalent chromium to make leather, which is a carcinogen that has seeped into the water supply of 34 cities in America. To make matters worse, one kilogram of leather is responsible for 10 times as much greenhouse gas production as synthetic or natural options. Shoe models without leather are way more sustainable in all environmental impact categories, such as acid rain production, human toxicity, and eutrophication of waterways. Phew.

When I decided to start buying eco-friendly shoes, I thought I'd be stuck with some sort of burlap-lentil hybrid. Luckily, I was wrong. There are tons of eco-options out there, from high fashion brands like Stella McCartney, to big companies with a couple options like Nike and Adidas, to fully vegan companies such as ConverseMATT & NAT, Beyond Skin, and Koi Footwear

6. Clothing

Fast fashion is a huge problem, not only in terms of human and animal wellbeing, but sustainability. Fast fashion is defined as inexpensive clothing mass-produced at rapid rates. Because it's so quickly produced, it's undeniably sh*tty, falls apart, and ends up in the trash. 13 trillion tons of clothes currently sit in U.S. landfills, leaving toxic contaminants in the soil and water. Though it may not seem logical to spend a larger sum of money on one item, buying ethical, pricier clothing will save you money, as each piece is made to last.

My favorite eco-friendly clothing brands are Reformation for cute, unique items ($$$), Everlane for everyday wear and jeans ($$), Girlfriend Collective for activewear ($$), and PACT ($) for basics like white t-shirts.

7. Grocery Shopping

Most people shop for groceries weekly, if not more. In that time, we purchase unsustainable food, which may be wrapped in plastic, and then take it home in multiple plastic bags. It's really easy to up your sustainable grocery game.

All you need is reusable mesh bags (for loose vegetables, dry goods, etc.), glass jars (instead of using plastic boxes for dry pasta, granola, nuts, etc.), and any sort of reusable bag to take your groceries home in. I linked Amazon products, but the Package Free Shop carries all of this too. Plus, an even more progressive step one can take is shopping at a waste free grocery shop, if your area has one (do ya' research!).

8. Kitchen Products

Kitchens can be the least sustainable place in our homes. From paper towels, to Ziploc bags, to dish soap, to plastic wrap, there are so many ways we can improve our eco-consciousness in that area. An alternative to paper towels are dish cloths, and these come with 5 durable, fast-drying, bamboo towels. Sandwich bags are made from single-use plastic, and by using reusable, silicone ziploc bags you won't only save money but the earth.

Speaking of plastic, plastic wrap is used so frequently to preserve food but is one of the worst kitchen-based offenders for the environment. Good thing there's an option for organic reusable food wraps. Lastly, I'm frequently grabbing food from my house on the go, and if I don't wanna use a silicone bag or am packing a salad, reusable food containers make it super easy.

9. Cleaning Products

Speaking of kitchen products, cleaning your home with safe and environmentally friendly products is super important. Green cleaning products are more eco-friendly, being that they use sustainable manufacturing practices, more efficient packaging, and biodegradable or renewable ingredients. Plus, standard cleaning products are harmful to our health, as they may contain carcinogens, neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, and/or endocrine disrupters. Keep in mind, we're putting these harsh chemicals on the surfaces we eat off of.

There are a million brands out there ethically revamping something as mundane as cleaning. Common Good is the paragon of green products, as they have refillable packaging, are 100% sustainably sourced, biodegradable, and use essential oils. However, two much more accessible and cheap brands are Method and Mrs. Meyer's.

10. Body products

From soap, to moisturizer, to scrubs, body products are used by pretty much everyone. Unfortunately, a lot of these products come with palm oil, plastic packaging, or chemical ingredients. Luckily, sustainable body products exist.

Regarding soap, I will say that the best option is bar soap that comes in a metal tin from waste free shops, grocery stores, or Lush. However, I'm not perfect and hate bar soap, so I do use a bit of plastic in this area. The Alaffia Everyday Shea Body Wash is full of hydrating, natural ingredients so you can use less moisturizer after showering. Plus, it smells great and Alaffia helps relieve the cycle of poverty in Togo while empowering West African communities to become more sustainable.

Eco-friendly lotion is way easier to locate, as you can use anything from accidentally zero waste coconut oil to a more high-end brand. Using just coconut oil from a glass jar is a great option, but the French Lavender Whipped Body Butter from 100% Pure is vegan, organic, and comes in sustainable packaging.

Though nontoxic deodorant does require reapplication, it's way safer physically and environmentally. Plus the one from the Package Free Shop is pretty effective.

Lastly, I wanna thank all the states that finally banned microbeads, otherwise we'd still be mindlessly using some chemical laden orange burst body scrub, unaware of the detrimental effects it was causing us and the environment. If you are looking for a scrub on the market, try the Coconut Milk Body Scrub from Majestic Pure. It is sustainable, natural, and full of effective ingredients.

11. Haircare

Same with products we use for our body, keeping what we put in our hair eco-friendly and non-toxic is pretty important—many of us are putting chemicals on our scalps, and 64% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies. Plus, plastic is so heavily utilized in this area of beauty.

My favorite shampoo and conditioner are from Seed Phytonutrients—a vegan company with packaging made from recycled paper, resulting in 60% less plastic than the average brand. My favorite hair styling/smoothing cream is by R+Co, which does use plastic packaging but is 100% vegan, while remaining effective and aesthetically pleasing. For when your hair needs some TLC, instead of opting for a mask with plastic packaging, save some money and buy a glass jar of coconut oil. Disperse it in your hair, leave for an hour or more, then rinse.

Though I don't use this brand yet, I want to mention Plaine Products, the ultimate eco-friendly hair brand. They have an awesome system of sending you your desired products in a metal bottle, and when you run out, trading you for your old bottle, which they reuse.

12. Makeup

A topic like this may seem frivolous or inconsequential, especially in conversations regarding sustainability, but makeup can be an important form of self-expression that shouldn't be associated with damaging the environment.

The best store for all of your eco-friendly beauty needs is The Detox Market, but for individual products, Milk Makeup's Kush Mascara comes in metal (plus a little paper) packaging and contains all vegan ingredients.

The best non-toxic, eco concealer I've tried is from Alima Pure. It's full coverage, natural, and, most importantly, refillable so to reduce the amount of packaging used. Kjaer Weis offers all refillable, organic products that come in metal cases and are great quality. I love their blush, and though I don't wear foundation, I know people rave about it. Kjaer Weis may be expensive, but their refills are much cheaper than the first buy.

Lily Lolo has a moisturizing bronzer that works for all skin tones, various eyeshadow options, and dye-, paraben-, talc-free eyeliner. Lastly, the powder, lip to cheek, and highlight from RMS are awesome and have steel and glass packaging.

13. Skincare

Skincare is something a lot of people take seriously and implement heavily into their self-care routines, if not their lives. Now that there are so many options for so many different types of skin, it can be hard to decipher which products will work for you, especially while trying to be eco-conscious in the process.

There are a few brands that do an awesome job of providing green skincare that is effective for all skin types. My favorites are Indie Lee, Youth To The People, and One Love Organics, who all have earth-friendly packaging and amazing products. Acure is also an awesome company with a lower price point, and Detox Market lets you shop skincare by concern (with all eco products) if you don't want to limit yourself to a few brands!

14. Honorable mentions

Sooo, pens and toothbrushes are a little too niche to write an entire section about, but I do wanna highlight a couple more products that help me be a more sustainable person.

Basically everything from the Package Free Shop is on my holy grail list. If you're looking for a bunch of basics to get you started, their Zero Waste Starter Kit: The Basics is for you. They also have a Shave Kit, a Drink Kit, a Lunch Kit, and an Oral Hygiene Kit.

If you're not looking to go all in yet, getting a non-plastic toothbrush is a good way to start. On the subject of teeth, typical floss is not only made of plastic, but contains perfuoroalkyl substances, which are toxic for humans. Cocofloss is an awesome alternative.

My last few honorable mentions go to these vegan and 100% waste free lip balms, this cute soy wax candle, and these recycled cardboard pens.

If you read until here, you've already done quite a bit to become a more eco-conscious consumer. This subject may feel overwhelming at times, but doing something, no matter how small, is always better than stagnation. Whether you're a sustainability novice or someone who dedicates their life to being 100% waste free, helping the environment in any way is an achievement to be proud of.