Sustainable Living 101

Looking to live more sustainably? Consider 15 small changes that can have a big impact on the environment.

Creativity 10 min read Feb 13, 2024
Sustainable Living 101

When you think of sustainable living, what do you imagine? Maybe a babbling brook, a trail through the woods, or an old-growth forest? These are all beautiful images that evoke a sense of peace and belonging. But what does sustainable living actually mean?

A sustainable lifestyle is about safeguarding the earth for future generations. It’s about conserving and reusing the resources we have left. To help you on your journey towards greener living, here are some tips to help creating a sustainable future.

1. Eat locally grown food

The food you eat can have a huge impact on the environment. You can help by eating locally produced food, choosing plant-based meals over meat dishes, and reducing your carbon footprint by making small changes to your diet.

Locally grown fruit and vegetables are usually in season, meaning that they’re fresher and have not had to travel very far. Buying these foods not only reduces pollution caused by long-distance shipping, but also helps support your local economy.

Eating more plant-based meals such as salads and stir fries can also help the environment because meat has a larger carbon footprint than vegetables and grains. If you do eat meat, consider choosing organic and grass-fed varieties whenever possible.

2. Reuse old items

Admit it or not, you don’t really need to buy new stuff most of the time. Many old items can be repurposed into something new and useful. For example, you can reuse old T-shirts and towels instead of buying new rags, and old pillowcases can be used as drop cloths when painting walls or furniture. You can also use glass jars for storage, and plastic bags for trash bags.

3. Take public transportation

It’s a good rule to take public transport whenever possible. Using public transportation is more efficient than using your own car because it uses less energy and produces fewer emissions. It also helps reduce traffic congestion and can make it easier to get around in large cities.

If you live close enough to your work or school, consider taking the train or bus to where you need to go.

4. Carpool with workmates

Carpooling is another great way to save on fuel costs. If you own a car and live close to someone who also needs to get somewhere near (or the other way around), consider carpooling with them. It will help reduce congestion and pollution, as well as save petrol consumption.

If you are going to buy a new car however, look for something that is fuel-efficient. You can even trade your old car in for one that uses less fuel. This way, you’ll be helping the environment as well as your wallet.

5. Walk or cycle

Walking and cycling are both great ways to stay fit and healthy, as well as being environmentally friendly. If you can walk or cycle to school, work, or the shops, you’ll be doing a great service for the environment as well as yourself. It’s also a good way to save money on petrol or public transport tickets.

6. Repair broken items

Before throwing away broken items, think about whether you can fix them first. This will not only reduce the amount of waste you produce, but also save you money.

For example, broken pottery can be transformed into something beautiful through the art of kintsugi. You can also check out repair cafes in your area for free repairs on small appliances like microwaves and coffee makers.

7. Buy secondhand items

Buy secondhand items such as clothes, furniture, and appliances whenever possible. Buying preloved items will reduce the amount of materials and energy that go into manufacturing new products.

In addition, buying second-hand clothes is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment. It’s cheaper, and you can help reduce clothing waste. These items can often be found in good condition at thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, and other places.

8. Reduce food waste

It’s generally a good rule to buy only food that you can consume. If you plan to cook a meal, make a shopping list and stick to it. You can also try freezing leftovers or using up food that is about to expire.

If you buy fruit and vegetables that are not ripe or ready to eat, store them in the fridge so they don’t go bad. If you have too much leftover food, consider giving it to a friend or family member. Also donate any extra food you may have to local charities or shelters.

You can also use leftovers for other meals whenever possible. For example, you can use scrapings from vegetables and meat to make broth, which is a great way to reduce food waste.

9. Go paperless

It’s 2023, and there is practically no reason to use paper anymore. Instead of printing documents, store them digitally. This will save paper and reduce your carbon footprint overall.

Other ways of reducing your paper use include using online banking instead of going into a branch, or receiving bills and statements by email. Not only will these save paper, but they will also save you some time and unnecessary effort.

10. Save energy at home

Conserving energy is one of the most simple yet impactful ways to reduce your carbon footprint. When you leave a room, make it a habit to turn off the lights and appliances. If an appliance has a standby function, turn it off when not using it for long periods of time.

11. Conserve water

Using less water will help reduce your carbon footprint as well as save you money on your monthly utility bill. You can start by fixing leaky faucets and toilets, using a clothesline instead of a dryer when possible, and making it a habit to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. You can also use a bucket to collect rainwater for plants and lawns. Every drop counts!

12. Use eco-friendly pest control

Many pest control products are toxic and harmful to the environment. Instead of using chemicals to get rid of pests, try eco-friendly methods instead. For example, you can use diatomaceous earth or boric acid to kill ants and other insects that invade your home. Also consider using sticky traps to catch fruit flies.

13. Recycle old batteries

Batteries are hazardous waste that can pollute the environment if they’re not disposed of properly. Recycle old batteries by dropping them off at a battery drop-off location near you or mailing them to an approved recycler. If there are no nearby locations for recycling, place the batteries in a plastic bag before throwing them into your regular trash.

14. Cut back on air travel

Cut back on air travel by combining trips and using public transportation. For example, if you need to go from New York City to Los Angeles for a business meeting, consider traveling from New York City to Chicago, then taking a train or bus from Chicago to Los Angeles instead. This will reduce the carbon emissions released into the atmosphere, as well as save you money on airfare and the hassle of going through security twice.

15. Ditch the disposables

Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world especially for disposables, but it can take up to 500 years for plastic to decompose. Try avoiding single-use plastics whenever possible. Bring reusable bags when shopping and avoid plastic straws and cutlery. Also buy refillable cleaning products and dish soap instead of single-use bottles.

Other reusable items include cloth napkins and handkerchiefs, which are much better for the environment than disposables like paper towels and tissues. Also consider bringing a refillable water bottle around instead of buying plastic bottles of water everyday.

We can all make small changes that have a big impact if they are done collectively. These everyday changes will help you and your family become more environmentally conscious, and they aren’t just good for the environment too. They can also help you save money on utilities and household costs!