Sustainable living is more than just a 'buzzword' or a trend. It is a shift in the way you live and explore the world. It's how you dress, what you eat, how you travel, where you shop, how you interact with the environment, and so much more. Everything you do in your daily life is an opportunity to practice sustainable and conscious living. And it's easier than you think!
I started my own sustainable journey 2 years ago when I became a vegetarian while teaching abroad in Europe. After seeing countless piles of garbage alongside roads and on beaches, plastic waste floating in the ocean while surfing, and even falling ill to pollution sickness multiple times, I knew I needed to make a difference in my life.
To combat my enormous (yuck!) carbon footprint as a traveler, I started small. I slowly replaced single-use plastics with reusable/biodegradable swaps, purchased second-hand, shopped at local markets, and backpacked across the world using primarily public transportation.
Whether I was at home or traveling abroad, I tried to be conscious about my choices and support sustainable brands when I can. Of course, my practices are still nowhere near perfect, but as Anne Marie Bonneau beautifully put it - "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."
But, what is Sustainable Living?
The phrase sustainable living has no doubt crept up in a news article or conversation you've had at least a few times. Living a more sustainable life means making intentional choices to consume less, reuse more while prioritizing renewable resources and the environment. It is about making healthier choices for our planet and all living things who live here.
Why is it so important?
Sustainability is something we are all responsible for. From removing single-use plastic and reducing carbon emissions to supporting local farmers and businesses. Sustainable living starts with you.
Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle is the first step to reducing pollution and increasing the health of ourselves, other living organisms, and our planet as a whole.
Plus, the more people switch to sustainable practices and brands, the more companies and policymakers will try to follow and advocate for more products, businesses, and policies to go with it.
Now, by no means am I saying that you should drop everything, go vegan, and adopt a zero-waste lifestyle this instant. If you are already doing so or working your way towards it, that's amazing, and I encourage you to keep up the great work as you continue on your journey!
But, for those of you who want to start reducing your carbon footprint and live more sustainably, here are 50 simple, easy, and cheap ways to become a green warrior and start practising sustainable living right now!
Take shorter showers
Switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs
Turn off the lights when you leave
Set your thermostat a little lower in the winter and a little higher in the summer
Hang your clothes out to air dry instead of using a dryer
Shop fewer times a week and purchase in bulk
Reuse what you already have
Repurpose old towels/clothes as cleaning rags
Save boxes to ship items or use as storage containers
Refill glass jars with dry foods, teas, cooking ingredients, art supplies, etc.
Collect used candle wax to make homemade candles
Reuse plastic bottles/jugs for bird feeders, plant pots, or cleaning bottles
Save old dryer sheets (if you still use them) and use them as dusters
Reduce your animal-based protein
Know where your meat comes from and support local and organic farms instead
Reduce your animal meat consumption to only a couple of times a week
Add high protein plant-based foods to your meals (soy, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
Adopt a more vegetarian diet
Go vegan and drop meat and animal products altogether
Carpool with friends or family members more often
Take fewer trips to the grocery store and plan your trips within a smaller distance
Go out for more walks and bike rides
Use public transportation more often
Travel by train or bus and reduce the number of flights you take
Invest in reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Use a water purifier when traveling in areas that clean drinking water is not accessible
Swap out plastic straws and utensils for metal/bamboo
Purchase shampoo and body bars instead of bottles
Eat at restaurants instead of ordering take out
Cut up old towels and use them as facecloths and makeup pads
Use reusable totes and bags for your groceries
Shop local and organic
Buy foods that have little to no packaging
Visit your local farmer's markets and purchase non-GMO and organic produce
Grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs at home
Support local businesses
Refrain from fast fashion
Reuse what clothing you already have
Hold a clothing swap with friends, family, or neighbors
Shop at second-hand stores
Purchase ethical clothing made from sustainable or reused materials
Donate what you don't use, need, want to shelters and donation centers
Support ethical & sustainable brands
Do your research on brands and companies and look for sustainable and ethical certifications
Support brands that are making a difference environmentally, socially, and economically
Purchase items that are made in your region or country
Use products that are animal cruelty-free
DIY home cleaners and toiletries
Repurpose jugs and plastic containers as kitchen/bathroom cleaner containers
Make zero-waste toothpaste, facial scrubs, and body washes
Apply apple cider vinegar as a natural facial toner
Repel mosquitos with homemade mosquito repellant
Start a compost bin using a reusable container
Use food scraps to fertilize your garden
Save kitchen scraps to make teas and vegetable broth
Make homemade incense or candles with fruit rinds
As you can see, sustainable living is not an all-or-nothing venture, and it goes so much further than just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Sustainable living starts with small actions that are feasible and affordable for you. Even incorporating just a handful of these practices at first, you will already be on your way to a sustainable life, improving the quality of your life and the life of the planet. All it takes is the first step!
Are you ready to start your sustainable journey?