Caring about the planet and trying to reduce the impacts of climate change can seem like a daunting task. And if you feel like the clock is ticking, you might be driven to take some action in your own life to lessen your impact on the Earth. While there are many things you can do to help, from driving an electric vehicle to using recycled toilet paper, it can be hard to know what actually makes a difference. That’s why we talked with 19-year-old Harvard student and sustainability entrepreneur Devishi Jha for her favorite tips on living a more planet-friendly life.
Jha has been a climate organizer for five years and her concern for the planet started after watching a video on climate change in 6th grade. “I was astounded by the catastrophic impacts that climate change could have on the planet during my lifetime, and was driven to act,” says Jha. “I became an organizer two years later.” Since then she has been a member of the UNICEF USA National Council, partnerships director at Zero Hour and currently serves on the board at the American Lung Association as a climate activist advisor, all while being the co-founder and CEO of Voyagers, a youth-led platform that works with companies to implement sustainable practices.
Jha says that any action you take can help in the fight against climate change. “It’s becoming increasingly easier for individuals to take small actions to preserve the planet’s resources. According to the UNEP, Count Us In organizers estimate that if 1 billion people take practical action in their own lives, they could reduce as much as 20% of global carbon emissions,” Jha says. “Everything from shopping with reusable bags, reusing containers, recycling, composting and more play a role in increasing global sustainability.”
Jha does a few simple things to reduce her own impact in her day-to-day life. “I personally do not eat red meat, shop using reusable shopping bags, recycle and compost, and try my best to reduce waste and energy consumption whenever possible,” she says. “All of these actions seem small, but together aid in reducing my carbon footprint and impact on the environment.”
Jha also recommends going to thrift stores and buying clothes secondhand, along with doing plenty of research when you’re buying from an eco-friendly brand. “Find sustainability reports to look at the actual impact that a company is making on the environment, human rights, DEI and transparency,” she says. “There is a lot of work being done in sustainable reporting in the private sector, namely measuring and reporting sustainability analytics, so ensuring a brand’s environmental impact will likely become easier in the years to come.”
To help you get started on reducing your impact, here are some products to help you live a more environmentally-conscious life, either recommended by Jha or one of our own favorites.
$14 at Baggu
“I love using reusable bags that fold up and are easy to carry around me when I go shopping — these can be found almost anywhere,” says Jha. We love Baggu’s bags that roll up into a tiny pouch that you can easily toss in any purse or backpack.
$12 at Package Free
This stylish tote from Package Free is made from 100% organic and fair trade cotton.
$38.49 at Amazon
One of our favorite reusable bags for grocery shopping sustainably, these bags have a flat bottom that makes loading them in your cart a breeze.
$5.95 at Public Goods
Skip the plastic produce bags at the grocery store and use these reusable mesh ones instead. Plus, the mesh makes your produce easy to identify at the register.
$9.95 at Public Goods
Whether you want to use this as another tote or as an oversized produce bag for large items like lettuce, this bag is a must.
$149 at Patagonia
“I also like Patagonia,” says Jha. “Their products are long-lasting and the company is doing good work in ESG and taking accountability for the continued work they have to do as a brand.” We love Patagonia clothes too, especially its Torrentshell jacket, which is our favorite rain jacket.
$48 $32 at Bite
“There are a lot of up and coming startups that I love for their ingenuity in creating sustainable products,” says Jha. “One of my favorites is Bite Toothpaste Bits, which is a great alternative to regular toothpaste and reduces waste while being 100% cruelty free and vegan.”
$22.98 at Amazon
“I’m also a huge chocolate lover, and one of my favorite ethical, sustainable chocolate brands is Tony’s Chocolonely,” says Jha. “Tony’s chocolate is 100% slave-free and works with farmers directly, making sure that all steps of the supply chain in producing to consuming their chocolate is ethical and gives back to local communities.”