Each year the temperature increases, the sea levels rise, and natural disasters become more common. Proof of climate change is undeniable, but instead of doom-scrolling and letting pessimistic thoughts pollute your mind, why not make some positive, sustainable life changes?
As individuals, we can’t control what large corporations emit in terms of their carbon footprint, but we can always improve our own patterns and behaviors for the betterment of our planet. You would be amazed how much of a difference a few simple, eco-friendly changes in your lifestyle can impact the globe for the good!
Change can seem intimidating, but the following sustainable living ideas are easy, accessible, and most importantly, impactful.
Keep reading and pick up on some new mindful habits you can develop, and start living more sustainably today!
This tip might seem like a given, but realistically, only about 32% of Americans actually recycle. It might seem easier to just toss everything away into the same bin, but once you develop the habit of recycling you’ll never look back.
An easy way to become a pro recycler is to separate your waste into different categories and label them. Designate one bin for cans, one for paper and cardboard, and one for regular waste that cannot be recycled.
Doing this will make you more conscious of where you’re putting your waste, and will become a no-brainer after a little practice.
Make sure you also have the appropriate bins for trash day, when it is time to leave your rubbish by the side of the road. Garbage collectors only take your trash if it’s in the correct bins, so make sure to take note of that.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the sustainable lifestyle, why not try composting?
Composting is a way of recycling organic matter naturally, and then turning your food waste into fertilizer that will enrich the soil! It is actually a simple process that will really benefit your yard and the quality of your soil.
All you need to do is designate a spot in your yard for your new compost pile and then lay down twigs and straw first, then add on moist and dry materials as well as manure. Once you have your base, you can continuously add to your compost pile.
Discard your food scraps, dead plants, and any other organic, biodegradable materials into your compost pile and witness your waste turn into valuable soil!
3. Metal Straws
By now we are all familiar with the “save the sea turtles campaign,” and frankly, it is a great cause to stand behind. Plastic straws make up a large amount of the plastic waste that ends up in oceans, and ultimately in the noses and mouths of sea turtles.
It is cruel to mindlessly pollute someone’s natural ecosystem, and potentially cause physical harm in the process. You can do your part to minimize plastic straw waste by switching to zero-waste metal straws that you can reuse!
Metal straws are fairly self-explanatory. They are reusable and dishwasher safe, and the perfect alternative to single-use straws. Besides, with the quickness with which paper straws become soggy and dissolve in your beverage, metal straws are the superior option all across the board.
Many retailers sell metal, reusable straws, so pick up some today and start sipping sustainably!
4. Donate Unwanted Clothes
Unfortunately, fashion waste is a massive contributor to the climate crisis, as 85% of clothes end up in landfills. Fast fashion is understandably the easiest option for many people, but can sometimes lead to excessive clothes waste. Though fast fashion is unavoidable, try to shop from sustainable retailers or buy second-hand when you can! Changing the way you buy clothes is one of the first steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle that leaves the planet ready to use for future generations.
We should all strive to be more mindful of our fashion consumption, but even more importantly we need to pay close attention to where our unwanted clothes end up. It is wasteful and unnecessary to just throw perfectly good clothes away, so instead of contributing to pollution, try donating.
Local Goodwill stores are always accepting old t-shirts, jeans, and other staples. Plus, you can look into your local homeless shelters and relief organizations and see if they can make good use of your unwanted clothes.
Just because you are sick of that flannel shirt, doesn’t mean someone else can’t make good use of it. The next time you purge your closet, make sure to set aside the undamaged clothes you no longer want, and plan a trip to the thrift store to get rid of them easily and sustainably!
5. Reusable Bags and Totes
Grocery store trips can inadvertently lead to excessive unnecessary waste due to plastic bags. When you have a long shopping list and come without a bag, you end up using several of the store-provided single-use bags, which ultimately end up either polluting the ocean or wasting space in a landfill and contributing to global warming.
An easy way to reduce your plastic waste and make shopping easier and more convenient is to invest in a quality tote bag or any reusable shopping bag.
Totes are a great sustainable investment, because not only are they cute and trendy, but they are also extremely versatile. Whether you are running to do errands or want to safely transport your belongings for a trip to the library, a tote is going to be a useful accessory.
Sometimes single-use bags are unavoidable, but try to get in the habit of bringing a tote bag along with you and watch as your plastic waste drastically decreases over time.
6. Reusable Water Bottles
Another key player in plastic waste is single-use bottles and coffee cups. Water is vitally important, so the need for water bottles is understandable, but why use single-use bottles when there are cute, plastic-free reusable bottles out there instead?
You can save about 156 plastic water bottles from polluting landfills annually if you make the switch to reusable. It is such a minor lifestyle change that packs quite the punch.
Aside from the environmental benefits of reusable water bottles, they are also just better generally. Certain brands can act like thermos and keep your water cool and fresh for hours. You also minimize your chances of consuming microplastics when you drink from a reusable bottle, instead of a plastic bottle.
All in all, reusable bottles are the way to go, and it is an easy, affordable change to make.
7. Use Public Transportation
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with relatively reliable and accessible public transportation, try to utilize it as much as possible. This step will reduce the number of fossil fuels and non-renewable resources you use up.
Cars can be a necessity in many locations, but if you have the option to take a train, trolley, or bus, try to do that every once in a while. Many of the country’s carbon emissions come from excessive vehicle use, so if you opt to take the bus every now and then, you can reduce your own carbon footprint.
If your place of residence is lacking in adequate public transportation, try making other sustainable commuting choices. You can carpool with a friend or a coworker. You can also get some exercise in and walk or bike if the commute is not too far.
There are several methods you can use to minimize your carbon footprint and promote sustainable living in terms of commuting.
8. Turn Off Lights
One of the simplest sustainable living tips is to just remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room.
We all do it. Perhaps you wanted a snack from the kitchen and left the light on after you left. Or maybe you went to the bathroom and just decided to leave the bathroom light on.
It seems like a harmless choice that will really only affect your electricity bill, but leaving lights on also produces more energy and ultimately more greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity is a precious natural resource, and using less energy can make a huge environmental impact on the planet.
While we discuss electricity and energy consumption, another sustainable choice you can make is to use LED light bulbs. They are more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan, so there will be less waste!
All it takes is the flicking of a switch to help our environment.
9. Reduce Meat and Dairy Intake
Our eating habits play a huge role in our carbon footprint, and a great way to minimize yours is to be conscious of the foods you consume and reduce your meat and dairy consumption.
Both the meat and dairy industries are key players in climate change as they tend to release excessive amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Unsustainable farming practices (which unfortunately make up a lot of the accessible meat and dairy products) contribute to deforestation and other harmful practices.
Of course, altering your diet can be difficult, and you do not need to cut these products out entirely. Just try to lower the amount of meat and dairy products you consume on a daily basis.
When it is possible, you should also try to shop for meats, dairy, and produce products from local farms and farmers' markets. These products are made on a much smaller scale and are typically done in an ethical manner that promotes sustainability.
Easy Living = Sustainable Living
It is time to erase the myth that it is hard or impossible to lead sustainable lifestyles. Small choices and ideas can make a huge impact on the planet, and are easy to commit to.
From using metal straws to minimizing your meat consumption, you can live more sustainably in no time!