top of page

Small Changes Make a BIG Impact

by: Laura Simpson, Programs + Distribution Coordinator, City Sprouts

Learn simple ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle and reduce your carbon footprint - small changes make a BIG impact.

Minimize Single Use Plastics

Single use plastic bags and plastics are extremely detrimental to our planet. Unfortunately plastics are hard to avoid because of how so many of the products we buy are packaged. 4 countries have banned single use plastics all together. If you need a little more convincing, here are some statistics from World Counts; 5 trillion single-use shopping bags are used per year worldwide. That amount averages to 700 bags per person. Less than one percent of those bags are recycled; meaning by the year 2050 the world's oceans could contain more plastic than fish. Here are some simple ways to minimize your consumption of single-use plastics and reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Opt for reusable shopping bags made of natural fibers like cotton, hemp, or linen

  • Avoid single-use water bottles and opt for an insulated steel cup instead

  • Minimize use of paper products and switch to re-usable or compostable options (paper towels, tissue, paper plates, cups, bowls, silverware, tissue, etc.)

  • Switch to more sustainable household products by sourcing locally or making products at home

Laundry Detergent

  • Soap Nut Berries are indigenous to the Himalayan mountain region. They contain natural saponin which creates a mild lather that is gentle on skin so is great for those with sensitivities. Depending on how often you do laundry a single ounce of soap nut berries can last 3-6 months. Soap berries can be purchased through various online retailers or locally (Omaha, Neb.) at EXIST Green for less than $1/ounce.

  • 3 ingredient DIY Laundry Detergent Bar of soap, Borax, Washing Soda This RECIPE makes 5 cups of powdered laundry detergent Try adding ¼ cup vinegar to your rinse cycle for extra cleaning power

  • Detergent Sheets Similar in appearance to dryer sheets, but intended for washing. These are usually sold in biodegradable packaging so they are much more environmentally friendly.

Sponges Most commercially available sponges contain plastics and polyester that do not decompose. Simply switching to a natural biodegradable material will help reduce environmental impact over time.

  • Luffa Squash are a long season squash/gourd that can be grown here in Nebraska. Once they are completely dry the skin is removed and they can be cut into various sizes; perfect for all your cleaning needs

  • Coconut Husk Another natural fiber that, when dried and compounded, makes for a great alternative

Bar Shampoos, Conditioner, Body, and Dish Soap Ditch the plastic and buy a bar! I will admit as a person with thick curly hair I was skeptical of using a shampoo/conditioner bar. I decided to give it a “solid” go and am very pleased with the overall health of my hair. I’ve had the same bar for nearly six months and it’s only about half gone. When I was using liquid products in plastic bottles I was buying them every couple of months. I’d recommend checking out your local farmers market for handmade soap bars.


Consider buying used products as much as possible.

Thrift Stores, estate sales, and garage sales are great places to find a bargain. There is also a plethora of websites at our fingertips to buy and sell products no longer in use.

Consider doing swaps with friends, family, and/or co-workers.

Swaps are an effective way to keep products in use and also helps build community relationships.

Reuse products and give them new purpose!

Whether it’s turning your favorite old t-shirt that is sprouting holes in the armpits into a simple no-sew tote bag or reusing jars and containers for household or office use- challenge yourself to think creatively before tossing something out.

Consider alternative modes of transportation

According to the EPA transportations sector accounted for 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Out of all the modes of transportation 57% are light duty passenger vehicles. Transportation is a major challenge for many nationwide.

  • Walk, Bike, or Scooter

  • Check out Heartland BCycle

  • Carpooling

  • Public transportation

Minimize Food Waste through Mutual Aid and Composting

  • Cutting back or completely eliminating household food waste is one way we can collectively make big strides to help our community and reduce food waste.

  • According to an article by RTS that provides statistical research on food waste in America, one third of food produced in the United States ends up in a landfill. It accounts for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions which is 3 times the amount of airline travel. These statistics are heart breaking considering the USDA reports 10% of the U.S population is food insecure.

  • Mutual Aid

    • Have large amounts of food that is near expiration or leftover from an event? Consider donating that food to a local shelter or food recovery program who will do the work of making sure it gets into the hands and mouths of community members in need

  • Composting

    • Composting is easy and just takes a little extra effort and planning.

    • Attend a workshop or visit your local library to learn more about composting and find a method that works for you and your lifestyle.

    • Commercial composting; local services through Hillside Solutions


Questions about sustainable practices?

I hope you have found this guide helpful and it will inspire you to make small changes to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Want to share your experiences? Have questions? We would love to hear from you!


bottom of page