One of the biggest problems in today’s world is climate change.
While we all know that living in a more sustainable way is important, the problem is that most people don’t know what they can do to make a difference, and they don’t know what steps to take first.
I’ve written a list of 15 ideas for sustainable living which covers the basics of going green and reducing your carbon footprint. It includes tips on how to reduce your waste at home, on the road, and at work; ways to save energy at home; easy changes you can make around your community; plus lots of other ideas for making small but meaningful changes every day.
The world is changing, and we need to change with it!
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Table of Contents
- What is sustainable living
- Why we need to be more sustainable
- Ideas for sustainable living
- 1. Turn it off
- 2. Grow your own vegetables
- 3. Go paperless
- 4. Reusable water bottles
- 5. Reusable grocery bags
- 6. Avoid fast fashion
- 7. Reduce food waste
- 8. Learn how to sew
- 9. Reduce screen time
- 10. Walk or cycle to work / school
- 11. Reduce meat consumption
- 12. Take the stairs
- 13. Switch to reusable sanitary products
- 14. Carry metal straws
- 15. Borrow and share
- Bonus: Use eco-friendly web-hosting
What is sustainable living
Sustainable living is about reducing your own carbon footprint to protect the Earth.
The idea of sustainable living has only recently started to become more mainstream with the surge in environmental concerns over the last few years
This movement encourages us all to stop using as many natural resources as possible, whether we’re talking about energy or food. This reduces our personal carbon footprints, thereby protecting the planet for future generations.
What makes sustainable living unique? Unlike other methods of being eco-friendly, such as recycling or taking shorter showers, sustainable living involves changing your day-to-day habits so that you don’t use up as many natural resources as before.
Why we need to be more sustainable
Sustainability is more important now than ever, and reducing our carbon footprint means we can enjoy a better quality of life today while knowing that future generations will be able to do the same.
The world’s population is ever increasing, and with the technology we have at our disposal, it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
We need to get better at managing how we use our natural resources if we are going to provide enough of them for everyone today and in years to come.
Read also: 25 Simple Ways to Consume Less This Year
It can seem pretty daunting when you think about living a more sustainable way; it’s a lifestyle change and changes can be hard to make.
However, the only way to create a sustainable future for our planet is if we all make changes in our own personal lives.
Ideas for sustainable living
1. Turn it off
The electricity that powers our household appliances is produced by power plants which generate an enormous amount of carbon dioxide in the process. This is obviously bad news for the environment, so reducing your usage will help balance this out
You may not feel like you use as much electricity as other people, but most devices you plug into a mains socket are using some sort of electricity, even when they’re ‘off’. So you should make an effort to turn off any electronic devices that are not in use.
2. Grow your own vegetables
One of the great things about growing your own vegetables and herbs is that you will notice you have better quality produce in your diet.
Instead of buying chemically treated and over-processed foods, you can grow your own fruit and vegetables to ensure they are fresh and haven’t been tampered with.
By growing some of your own food, not only will this benefit the planet but also save money on shopping bills.
If you’re not too confident in growing your own and want to buddy up, check out if your community has a local vegetable garden that you can contribute to!
3. Go paperless
By going paperless, you are helping to preserve forests and reducing your impact on the environment.
Where possible, use an electronic device like a laptop or tablet to read PDFs and other documents electronically.
Did you know that many banks and bill providers are starting to charge you for sending paper bills and statements? So not only will you be taking sustainable action, you’ll also be saving a pretty penny!
4. Reusable water bottles
Glass and stainless steel bottles can be used again and again, making them a great choice for anyone looking to go green.
Instead of using disposable plastic bottles, glass or stainless steel can be washed out and reused over and over again. I have had this HydroCell stainless steel one for a few years now and it comes everywhere with me; to work, the gym, in the car, hiking, to the mall! I can use it for hot drinks as well as cold ones.
Another good tip is actually buying one water bottle with an inbuilt filter so you don’t have to buy water all the time; this will save you money too!
Simply fill up your reusable bottle with tap water whenever you need it and recycle when it gets dirty, instead of buying cheaper but less eco-friendly alternatives like bottled water.
“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production” – Pete Seeger
5. Reusable grocery bags
Ditch the plastic bags at the supermarket and investment in some reusable grocery bags instead.
I usually keep one small cotton bag with me in my purse every time I leave the house, just in case I need it, and a few more are kept in the car so I don’t forget them going shopping.
Again, more and more supermarkets are starting to charge for plastic bags, and it all adds up. So even though it’s an investment to begin with to buy these reusable ones, it will be worthwhile in the long term and much better for the environment.
You must make sure they are washed out regularly; if you’re anything like me then I’m sure there are probably plenty of food remnants lurking within!
Here’s one of my reusable grocery bags!
6. Avoid fast fashion
Reducing your carbon footprint does not just cover electricity and waste, it also covers what you buy. Buying fast fashion produces more waste because companies are churning out cheap clothes at a high rate to get them on the shop floor as quickly as possible. This means they don’t have time or don’t care about how sustainable their practices are; this includes in manufacturing and distribution too.
If you do need to buy clothing, why not consider buying second-hand? You can save money but also make sure that less clothing is going into landfill so increasing your sustainability efforts!
If you’re interested in finding out more about fast fashion and its impacts, watch The True Cost documentary.
7. Reduce food waste
Here’s a shocking statistic for you:
According to the United National Environment Program, “Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted.”
I don’t know about you, but that definitely makes me want to be more mindful when it comes to my food decisions.
Some tips for reducing food waste at home (which is something I’m always trying to improve upon, myself!) are:
- Meal plan for the week as best as you can
- Make a shopping list of only the food you will need for the week
- Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!
- When eating out, only order a small portion if you’re not too hungry or take any leftovers home for lunch the following day.
For the most part, it’s all about being mindful of what you’re spending and not getting carried away when shopping or eating out, if you’re a frequent offender like me!
“The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth” – Chief Seattle
8. Learn how to sew
When I was growing up, I was the youngest of 5 kids. I hardly ever had new clothes, just hand me downs – and they were all I needed to be fair!
But I recall that nothing was ever thrown out if it was torn, my mum or sister would mend it. If shoes were broken, they would be brought to a cobbler rather than a new pair purchased.
Now, I don’t mean you need to be conjuring up runway ready outfits, or even buy a sewing machine! But if you can mend the smallest rips / tears / holes in your clothing, it will eliminate the the need to go out and buy something new any time a hole appears in a sock!
9. Reduce screen time
Laptops, phones, tablets, TVs….sometimes I have all running at the same time in my house! And with today’s busy lifestyles and a lot of work being online, there often isn’t a choice.
However, on the days we don’t necessarily need to be tied to our screens, let’s shut them off!
Instead of spending all day Sunday in front of computer games and TV, maybe get the family involved in playing board games or sports outdoors. Or limit yourself to a few hours on the computer and then get out and do something active, rather than spending most of your day in front of a screen.
Not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, but will also get you and your family more active and spend more time together.
10. Walk or cycle to work / school
Something small, such as leaving the car at home just once a week, can really help with going green.
Bikes, walking and even public transportation have the lowest carbon footprints. Cycling produces zero emissions if it is powered purely by you!
If walking or cycling isn’t an option – maybe your work or school is too far away – perhaps you could share a ride with someone else and the next day you can drive them instead.
11. Reduce meat consumption
As our population grows, the demand for meat will only increase. And with this growth comes a huge negative impact on our environment and the animals themselves.
Talk to your family about it, maybe you can work together to reduce meat consumption every week by one meal? Then after a month, try another meal until eventually you’ve reduced your intake substantially?
12. Take the stairs
Now, I live on the 33rd floor of my building so of course I don’t run up and down the stairs every day, however, I do at least once a week take the stairs, both for some exercise and to be more sustainable.
In buildings where you only need to go up a couple of floors, instead of waiting for the elevator, which uses a massive amount of energy simply to move from one level to the next, take the stairs.
13. Switch to reusable sanitary products
Plastic pollutes our rivers and oceans at every stage of its life-cycle, posing a serious threat to the environment. And the amount of sanitary products we all use on a monthly basis add up to an enormous amount of waste.
I recently made the switch to ModiBodi period panties after a lot of research and I honestly can’t believe I didn’t make the switch long before. I love them!
14. Carry metal straws
It is reported that 500 million plastic straws are used and discarded every day in the U.S…. let that sink in for a minute. That’s 500 MILLION!
I carry metal reusable straws with me wherever I go, so when I’m ordering a drink I can ask for no straw and instead use my own.
A few more good reasons to switch plastic straws for metal: they don’t break like plastic and there is no risk of BPA being ingested.
Excessive consumerism is not sustainable and is a massive contributor to our growing waste problem.
Use the sharing economy! It’s easy to find people who have something you need – whether it’s a tool, vehicle or even just an item they no longer use – all you have to do is ask for it. Pop a request up on your neighbourhood Facebook page and someone will be sure to respond.
If you need a handbag or accessories for a specific night out, check with friends and family if they have anything you could borrow before rushing out to buy.
Bonus: Use eco-friendly web-hosting
The Internet is one of the world’s largest polluters.
If you’re a blogger like me, consider switching your webhost to an eco-friendly host such as GreenGeeks. I use these guys for both of my blogs and just love their mission statement and eco-friendly ethos.
Greengeeks buy back 300% of their yearly energy usage in renewable energy to put back into the grid. They also work with One Tree Planted to plant trees around the world! Their sustainable mindset coupled with exceptional customer service is why I’ve stuck with them for the past few years.
One thing you may notice from the above ideas for sustainable living is that the majority of them add even more value to our lives, such as health benefits or financial gains.
We can all make changes in our lives that will help protect the earth for future generations. This doesn’t have to come at the expense of our survival, it can in fact only serve to make us healthier and happier!
If everyone took even one step towards a sustainable life, we could all be making a difference. Start today by picking just one idea above and try it out for a week!
What other ideas for sustainable living do you have? Have you already made the decision to go green?