Sustainable Living: Small Changes, Big Impact

Sustainable Living: Small Changes, Big Impact by Kristen Vander Woude, MS, RDN, LDN

Hey there, eco-friends! It’s Kristen Vander Woude here, another green-hearted Registered Dietitian eager to share some personal sustainability wins and aspirations. Our planet is a shared home, and I find that personal wellness overlaps with the planet’s health — every little action counts towards keeping all of us healthy. These are some of the things I’ve incorporated over the past few years:

The Magic of Composting
Dog sitting next to compost bucketRecently, I’ve become a huge fan of curbside composting through services like Garbage to Garden. It’s incredible how much can be composted beyond your typical fruit and veggie scraps—think paper towels, and even dryer lint. This service has truly revolutionized how I view waste.

Urban Gardening Dreams
While I dream of a sunny backyard garden, my current setup includes a modest collection of herbs and tomatoes that my rental’s windowsill can support. It’s a small start, but every sprout brings me joy and a pinch closer to sustainability.

Bagging the Plastic Habit
Switching to reusable grocery bags was a no-brainer, especially when you consider the cost of paper bags. This simple change is not only good for the environment but also encourages me to plan my shopping trips more thoughtfully.

A Plastic-Free Mission
A couple of years ago, I took a hard look at my plastic consumption and decided it was time for a change. From shampoo bars to reusable cleaning product bottles from Grove, every swap has been a step towards reducing my plastic footprint. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect dishwasher pods, though!

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials
Like Melissa, I’ve embraced reusable paper towels and Swedish dish towels. They’re perfect for everything from wiping spills to doubling as napkins—and they’re so easy to clean.

Sourdough Love
Jar of sourdough starterMy sourdough starter, Zelda, is more than just water, yeast, and flour; she’s a connection to my great-grandmother and a source of homemade bread, pizza dough, and more. Baking from scratch reduces waste and adds a touch of love to every meal.

Reading Responsibly
This year, I’m challenging myself to borrow books from the library instead of buying new ones. It’s a small commitment to both the environment and my local library community.

Supporting Local and Sustainable Programs
From TerraCycle for recycling snack wrappers to Maine’s Clynk recycling program, I’m always on the lookout for ways to support recycling and sustainability efforts. Local Brewer Allagash also has an interesting recycling program, incentivizing and driving participation. And, of course, supporting local farmers and businesses is a weekly joy at the farmer’s market.

Hydrate with Care
Carrying a reusable water bottle is such an easy habit with a big impact. It’s astounding how this simple act can significantly reduce plastic waste.

Conscious Consumerism
Donating unused items, exploring thrift shops, and moving away from fast fashion are all part of my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Every choice to reuse or recycle is a vote for the planet.


In our journey towards sustainable practices, it’s essential to remember that no action is too small. Whether it’s composting, supporting local farmers, or making eco-friendly swaps in our daily lives, every effort counts.


Kristen Vander Woude, MS, RDN, LDN