What do you picture when you think of sustainable living? Maybe it’s dramatic changes like ocean conservation work or switching to wind power. While big efforts are important, sustainable living is an aspect of daily life that can be implemented in small ways. You may be surprised at how small of a change you can make for a real improvement in sustainability, especially when that effort is sustained over time. Here are our nine tips for sustainable living.
Alt text: A sun setting behind windmills and a grass field
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The average annual electricity consumption for a US household in 2018 averaged over 28 kilowatt-hours per day. A kilowatt-hour is equal to one 100-watt light bulb left on for 10 hours. And we’re averaging more than 28 of those a day in our households! Most of this energy usage comes from lights being left on all day.
Turn off your lights when you leave the room. Conserving the light might mean opening the curtains and letting natural light in. Maybe all you need is a small lamp. We tend to overuse electrical lights unnecessarily.
There are also ways to cultivate sustainability in home decor with your lighting options. What are the materials of your light fixtures made from? Take into consideration how your lights are shipped or provided to you. Sustainable packaging can make all the difference. Sources that prioritize sustainability will help you be sustainable too.
A big part of living sustainably is reusing what you can. We have a lot of daily-use items in our lives that are disposable. But, there are also reusable options available like straws, plates, water bottles, towels, and grocery bags. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your reusable materials, and explore all the new items that are being created every week.
Alt text: A marble kitchen counter with reusable straws and fresh fruit
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Watching your water usage is an oft-repeated eco-friendly measure, but there might be some specific tips you haven’t considered. We’ve all heard about the importance of taking shorter showers, but have you thought about getting a water-saving showerhead or a shower timer? You may not be aware of how much water you’re using or saving until you start to keep track of it.
Commuting is a necessity for many people, but you can make your commute a part of your sustainability commitment. If you work close to your home, try walking or biking to work. Taking public transportation is better than taking your vehicle. If you have to drive a car, consider getting an electric one, and carpool as much as possible. If you fly on planes frequently, make sure you find an airline that utilizes zero-waste practices.
Your sustainable commuting routine can also be more basic: take the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s the little things like this that add up.
A sustainable lifestyle includes supporting sustainable fashion. Sustainable shopping isn’t to be confused with thrift shopping — although getting secondhand clothes is more sustainable than buying new ones. When you decide to buy new clothes, it is better to buy “slow” fashion rather than fast fashion — meaning you choose higher quality items that last longer.
Better quality also often means brands are more environmentally conscious. Plus, in addition to choosing the styles that last longer, you can also make your clothes last longer by doing simple repairs yourself.
A sustainable life looks at the little details, especially for items you use every day. There are plenty of ways to be more sustainable with your bedding.
You want to choose products from a company that utilizes sustainable practices and uses good materials. Bamboo fabric is beneficial for the environment. Sourcing sustainable fabrics is a great way to institute an eco-friendly lifestyle all across your household.
Today’s world is digital. You don’t need a home printer. If you have to print something, you can seek one out. But not having a printer on hand will save you from printing items you don’t need to print. Practice storing files and information digitally to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.
Tell your bank you want electronic statements. Get receipts emailed instead of printed. Take notes on an electronic device instead of on a pad of paper. Go paperless and then encourage your peers to do the same.
Just because you’re done with something doesn’t mean no one else can use it. When you donate items you don’t use anymore, you help the environment by keeping them out of the landfill. Donate what doesn’t bring you joy and give it to someone who can reuse those items for a win-win!
This is a small tip, but it can have a big impact. Whenever you get gift bags, save them instead of throwing them away. You can do the same with tissue paper or other wrappings that don’t get ripped or damaged when you open the present. This will not only save you some money but it will help the environment.
Sustainable living works best when everyone makes the same commitments. It doesn’t do much good if you take short 4-minute showers and everyone else still takes long 30-minute showers.
And it won’t matter as much if you are the only one taking public transport to work. If everyone else in the office drives their car separately try to address the opportunity to increase sustainability. Encourage your coworkers to brainstorm together and try to coordinate carpooling times. Together you can make a much larger positive impact by organizing carpool groups.
The possibilities for sustainability are endless. And when you work together to achieve your sustainable living dreams you can make the world a lot better. All it takes are small meaningful changes to make a world of difference.