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Saving Water & Energy Is Simpler Than You Think — Just Ask These Sustainability Experts

If the news cycle is any indication, it’s more crucial now than ever to make an effort to live more consciously and sustainably. But this can feel like a pretty intimidating commitment to take on, at least initially. Where do we begin? Do we need to overhaul our entire lives? Not necessarily — in fact, an effective place to start is within our own homes, making simple (and typically, free) tweaks that help save energy and water.
Whether that entails shortening our showers or ensuring unused electronics are unplugged, it’s all about taking baby steps, explains sustainability content creator Sally Garcia. As a resident of often drought-ridden Los Angeles, she’s well-versed in the importance of saving water and has quite a few tricks up her sleeve for doing so. And however “baby” these steps may seem, Austin-based sustainability content creator Jhánneu Roberts reminds us how much of an impact they can actually have: “When you’re around other people, they pick up on your good habits, and that’s making an impact,” she says. “Sure, it may not be impacting millions of people, but if you can influence one person to make a small change in their life, it can have a ripple effect.”
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In celebration of Garnier’s #OneGreenStep initiative, which encourages folks to make small tweaks to their daily routines that benefit our planet, we asked Garcia and Roberts to show us the simple ways they reduce their water and energy usage and, overall, live more sustainably at home. Read on for their stories, and if you’re looking to join the movement yourself, head to your socials and share a photo or video of the steps you’re taking to conserve water and/or energy to enter for the chance to win over $500 worth of sustainable products.
@refinery29 Small steps = Big impact. @garnierusa #onegreenstep #ad ♬ Vibes - ZHRMusic
Where did your sustainability journey begin?
“Sustainability was something that my family practiced my entire life. I didn’t know it as 'sustainability’ growing up; it was just how we lived. For example, we’d often reuse food containers, sometimes for other purposes than storing food. To this day, my dad still uses hot sauce bottles as dish soap dispensers — it’s really effective, actually.
“As I got older and began working as a full-time outreach manager for a national park non-profit, I learned more about climate change and began to really see the effect plastic waste was having on our planet. That fueled a fire in me to get even more involved with sustainability and share that knowledge with my friends and family, eventually leading me to take it to social media.”
In your opinion, why is water and energy conservation a great place to start when it comes to living more sustainably?
“Saving water and energy is a great place to start because it involves things you can very easily do at home. As someone who lives in Los Angeles, where we often have droughts, I’ve been programmed for years to save as much water as possible. What’s easier than timing yourself to see how short of a shower you can take in order to use less water? It’s kind of like a fun little game, and it’s cost-effective as well. Not only that, but the greater effects of saving water and energy at home can positively affect more things than you can imagine [such as greenhouse gas emissions].”
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What advice would you give to someone who wants to be more conscious at home but isn’t sure where to begin?
“You have to give yourself grace. No one — not even the most zero-waste person that you follow or have read about — is perfect. We also live in a world and a society that doesn’t equip us to live a ‘100% sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle.’ A circular economy doesn’t fully exist yet, so you can’t let that weight be on you. Instead, start small. That could mean finally getting a reusable water bottle you love or reusing whatever containers you already have. It all starts at home and with baby steps.”
What do you hope to see for the future of the sustainability movement?
“I hope to see more people getting together, whether they’re family or friends, and taking tangible action as a group. When everyone comes together, it doesn’t seem like this big, scary problem because you have the help of others — everyone has that one thing they’re good at that will help this movement move forward. I hope that people tap into their gifts and whatever skills they have because they are needed in this movement. We’re better together. I also hope people become less afraid of writing to and calling their representatives. That’s the best way to get them to take action and make the changes you want to see in your community.”
@refinery29 Ok the freezer idea is genius. @garnierusa #onegreenstep #ad ♬ Lofi Vibes - Gentle State
Where did your sustainability journey begin?
“My journey began after I watched the documentary The Minimalists: Less Is Now, which is all about how to live with less and the importance of being intentional about the things that you own — values I think are very similar to sustainability. My journey of living with less led me to be more conscious, which led to me becoming more sustainable. I definitely own more than two T-shirts, but I’d say I probably have fewer items than the average woman.”
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In your opinion, why is water and energy conservation a great place to start when it comes to living more sustainably?
“The biggest reason is that it will save you money [on your electric and water bills]. Conserving water and energy is also one of the easiest ways someone can be more sustainable — and it’s something you can do right this second. You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy something or even do much research. For example, I wash my clothes in cold water because it uses less energy, plus it’s such an easy thing to do. My hair takes forever to wash, so sometimes I’ll wash it in the sink versus the shower because I know I’ll use less water than I would by standing in the shower for 10 minutes. I also know someone who plays a specific song while they’re in the shower so they can keep track of how long they’re in there. These are all simple, tangible steps you can take right now that will make a difference.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be more conscious at home but isn’t sure where to begin?
“My number-one tip is to stop buying things you don’t need. I also recommend starting with a single room or area of your home, like the kitchen or bathroom, where we tend to produce the most waste, and focus on one specific topic. How can you use less water? How can you reduce food or beauty waste? It becomes much easier when you start with one area and topic at a time before moving on to the next. These small tweaks become habits, and without even thinking about it, you become more intentional and sustainable.”
What do you hope to see for the future of the sustainability movement? 
“For me, it’s about having more diverse faces in the sustainability space. I think it’s important to have people from all different backgrounds talking about it so we can get more people involved and more people to care.
“I’d also like to see sustainability become more accessible. There has been some progress — for example, big-box stores are beginning to sell more low-waste or recycled plastic products. There are also package-free bulk shops in some major cities like New York and Los Angeles that accept food stamps, and I think it’s great that these brands that come off as very high-end are open and accepting to people of all incomes. However, we need more stores like these. They’re actually not much more expensive than traditional grocery or bulk stores, so I’d like to see it be as easy to buy something package-free in bulk as it is to pick up your regular groceries.”
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