As humans, we have the power to make changes to our lifestyle that can help ensure a sustainable future for the generations after us. And here’s the thing—it doesn’t have to be an exhaustive transformation; it just requires some minor changes. We’ve put together a list of seven easy changes that you can make to live more sustainably, every day.
1. Electricity and Appliances
One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable in your daily routine is to reduce your consumption of household energy. Turn off the lights and air conditioning when you leave the room, add in dimmer switches so you can control how bright the light is, and turn off power strips—which account for a significant portion of your bill. In addition, try installing a dual flush into your home toilets to use only the water you need. Pro-tip: Taking these steps will lighten your monthly electricity bills, too.
2. Food and Beverages
Have you ever thought about how many plastic water bottles you drink from in a year? Let’s just say a lot. Small changes in your drinking habits can have a substantial effect. By adding a filter to your kitchen sink or getting a separate water filter, you can have a continuous supply of drinking water at home without having to stock up on plastic bottles. To solve your on-the-go needs, purchase a few water bottles and reusable cups. And here’s a new goal for this year: try to avoid using plastic straws. We use over 500 million plastic straws in America every day, and most of them end up in our oceans.
When it comes to food, nixing wasteful plastic bags and finding alternative storage methods is an easy way to reduce waste, too. Start off by purchasing reusable containers (aluminum is best) to pack your food in. Or opt for beeswax-based products that sustainably store food, are easy to wash, and are even reusable.
A huge way to reduce carbon emissions is to avoid vehicles entirely, but we understand that sometimes you just need a car to get from Point A to Point B. That doesn’t have to mean you always need to own a car, though. If you live in or near a city, car-sharing services like Zipcar let you use a car only when you need it. Plus, each and every Zipcar takes 13 personally-owned vehicles off the road. You can also bike, run, take public transit or carpool.
When it comes to shopping, taking a trip to your local farmer’s market for weekly groceries is an easy win-win. You get tasty farm-fresh produce, which is usually organic and non-GMO at an often better price – without the plastic. Plus, in addition to supporting your local community, it’s also a great way to socialize and enjoy the fresh air. Growing vegetables and herbs in your own backyard is also a great way to save money and reduce waste, too.
Another easy win? Switching over from plastic bags to reusable totes. Plastic bags are often thrown out after one use, which can take up to 1,000 years to break down. One tote, however, can last you years. Using reusable shopping bags also have some added perks, like preventing your groceries from falling out when there’s a tear, as well as often being easier to carry and quicker to bag.
If you’re already drowning in piles of junk mail, don’t worry, there’s an easy fix. It’s time to sort through your bills and go paperless wherever possible. Regular statements such as monthly bank or electricity bills can be sent to your e-mail instead – and it will be more accessible, secure, and organized for when you need to view them in the future. It’s also time to unsubscribe from the mailing lists of companies that regularly send you shopping catalogs or offers on things you just don’t care about. It’s better for the environment, and it will make your life easier. Want bonus points? Get your shopping receipts emailed to you rather than printed, too.
When it comes to keeping yourself and your house clean, there are plenty of ways to modify your habits with more environmentally-friendly options. Companies like Brush with Bamboo offer plant-based toothbrushes to replace the numerous plastic ones we discard in a lifetime. Another small but effective change you can make is to be more cautious about what you put in the laundry hamper. Towels and clothes can have a longer lifetime than one use. (Unlike your gym clothes) Line-drying is also a better alternative for the environment, plus helps preserve the quality of your clothes. For another way to cut back, consider reusable rags instead of paper towels for cleaning. And if you’re focused on cutting down on plastic, try using bar soaps instead of liquid bottles in your home.
7. Reducing Waste
How we dispose of goods is ultimately the root cause of our environmental problems. When we throw out paper, plastics, and other waste instead of recycling, this wrongful disposal of our trash pollutes our soil, oceans, water sources, and more. Take a close look at your waste routine and research recycling alternatives for items commonly disposed at home. For example, if you’re a wine drinker, there’s an easy solution to recycle bottle corks. Additionally, composting is a great way to have an impact in addition to recycling, and many cities now offer composting programs that urbanites who may not have outdoor space can still participate in.
When it comes to being more sustainable, every little action counts. What do you do to be more sustainable every day in your life? Let us know your tips in the comments below.