The key to understanding sustainability is to recognize that each action we take affects the world around us. Contrary to popular belief, living sustainably doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live without luxury, but that you simply are cognizant of your resource consumption and of reducing unnecessary waste. Collectively, all of our efforts will make a real impact.
Although sustainable living is a daily practice, there are plenty of easy ways for you to become more eco-friendly. You can start off small and build your sustainable lifestyle one change at a time. Here are 10 ways you can get started on leading a sustainable lifestyle.
1. Recycle properly
Most of us have been recycling for as long as we can remember, and although it may seem simple to determine what does or does not belong in a recycling bin, it’s not that straightforward. There are many commonly mistaken items that can’t be recycled, such as shredded paper, plastic bags, and pizza boxes/take-out containers. Placing the wrong materials into the recycling bin may ruin the entire batch and slow down the recycling process, so it’s critical to take precautionary actions to ensure you are recycling properly. You can reference the Earth911 Recycling Directory to find out what your community can accept, or where to recycle these materials.
2. Ditch plastic water bottles and invest in a reusable bottle
Not only does the manufacturing and transportation of plastic water bottles lead to significant fossil fuel emissions, but most plastic water bottles are not actually recyclable and do not biodegrade. Avoiding them is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce the amount of plastic in your life. Click here for some of our favorite eco-friendly reusable water bottles.
3. Minimize single-use plastic in your life altogether
It’s widely known that single-use plastics are wreaking havoc on Mother Nature. We produce hundreds of millions of tons of plastic every year, most of which can’t be recycled, and therefore ends up in landfills, our oceans and waterways, and the environment. The solution to this problem is quite clear: we all need to reduce our use of single-use plastics. In addition to ditching plastic water bottles, some actions you can take include avoiding plastic straws, carrying reusable bags on shopping trips, and avoiding purchasing items that are packaged in plastic. For more ideas, you can reference this past blog post.
4. Take steps to reduce your energy consumption
As you likely already know, electricity varies with the weather, as changes in the temperature and humidity affect the need for heating and cooling. Homeowners and renters see the largest seasonal variance, largely because of air conditioning use in the summer and heating in the winter. There are plenty of simple lifestyle modifications or home upgrades you can make to ensure you’re being energy-conscious year-round, such as weather-stripping your home, upgrading to LED lightbulbs, and leveraging a power strip to avoid energy vampires. There are plenty of season-specific changes you can make, too – click here for our top strategies to help you save energy this summer.
5. Reduce your water usage
For plants, animals, humans, and every living organism, water equals life. Without water, there is no life. There are many simple water conservation techniques that can help cut your water usage significantly – such as only running full loads of laundry and dishes, installing a low-flow showerhead, using a rain barrel to harvest rainwater for your garden or lawn, and fixing leaky faucets/running toilets.
6. Avoid food waste
Most of us don’t realize how much food we end up throwing away each day. From uneaten leftovers to old or damaged produce, 94% of the food we discard ends up accumulating in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some things you can do to reduce your food waste include planning your meals in advance, saving leftovers, and learning how to properly store foods. There are also a lot of ingenious ways that you can use up old food – click here to learn some clever ways to do this.
7. Opt for environmentally-conscious modes of transportation
A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. By choosing more eco-conscious alternatives to driving, you won’t just save money on fuel and maintenance, reduce traffic congestion, and improve the air quality where you live, but you’ll also help improve the climate of the whole planet by reducing fuel emissions. There are lots of great transportation alternatives you can use instead of driving a car alone, like walking, biking, or taking public transportation.
8. Grow your own food
Planting a garden is something everyone should consider not just for personal, but for environmental reasons. You can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables without a trip to the grocery store and without chemicals. Learn more about how you can start your own eco-friendly garden and how to choose the fastest-growing vegetables.
9. Say goodbye to fast fashion
Some parts of modern life are widely known to cause harm to the environment, but when it comes to our wardrobe, the impacts are less obvious. Fast fashion encourages a “throw-away” attitude: clothing is cheaply made in a style that will change very quickly. The fast fashion industry has many negative implications for the environment (i.e. significant greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and large amounts of waste) and should be avoided. Some ways to avoid fast fashion include shopping second-hand, purchasing higher-quality pieces that will last you longer, and choosing clothing that consists of sustainable or recycled materials.
10. Shop local and organic for food
Shopping locally can help cut down on the average 1,500 miles food travels from farm to fork by purchasing food that’s grown or produced nearby, which means you’ll also help reduce the amount of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere. Organic farming practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, and use less energy.
We are often told that living a sustainable lifestyle is unattainable and expensive. This is not at all the case – it really comes down to giving your actions a little more thought and energy. Living a sustainable lifestyle is about living more simply and getting by with less, which will actually end up saving you money. These are just a few ideas to help you get started on your sustainability journey. Be patient with yourself, and remember that a little bit adds up over time.
For more ideas on how to live more sustainably, check out our blog post titled “What It Means to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle and How to Do It.” And if you haven’t already, be sure to switch to Kiwi Energy and enjoy the many benefits of the Ecogold program, such as the ability to purchase gift cards, services, and energy efficiency products.