You’ve been thinking about ‘going green’ to help the planet, but what does that actually mean? There’s so much buzz in the media about sustainable living, but it’s not always clear exactly what they’re talking about.
In simple terms, living a sustainable lifestyle means reducing your dependence on the planet and generating less waste. This will protect and preserve the environment for future generations.
It also ensures our children aren’t living in a world filled with plastic and pollution.
Ready to make a few changes? If so, here is our beginner’s guide to sustainable living, outlining some easy changes that anyone can make.
Ditch the Plastic
If you want to embrace green living, one of the easiest things you can do is reduce your consumption of single-use plastic. By bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping, you can play a big role in reducing our dependence on plastic.
Plastic is no good for the planet—bags and packaging materials often end up in landfills or, even worse, in oceans, where they cause serious damage to the ecosystem. Sadly, over 100,000 marine creatures die each year from entanglement in plastic.
Say ‘no thanks’ whenever you’re offered a plastic bag, and try to come up with other ways to use less plastic. For example, take reusable cutlery to a picnic instead of buying plastic knives and spoons or use beeswax wraps for food storage instead of plastic wrapping.
Just remember to go easy on yourself in the beginning, as it can take quite a while to remove plastic completely from your life.
Change How You Eat
Changing your diet can play a big role in becoming more sustainable. The biggest impact a person can have is by going vegan or even vegetarian, as the methane gas produced in the livestock industry is dangerous for our planet.
Even if you can’t give up meat completely, try having a few meatless days per week. If we all did this, it would make a huge difference to the planet.
Or, if you do buy meat, try to purchase it locally, from an organic farm, as that way, your food isn’t traveling a long way to reach you.
Another small thing we can do is to try to shop local, in-season produce. Often, fruits and veggies are driven cross-country so that we can access summer produce in winter, for example.
However, this means more trucks on the road, more pollution, and more use of fossil fuels to power the delivery trucks, none of which are great for the planet. By shopping from local farms, you’re not only supporting local businesses but also contributing to a more sustainable economy.
You can shop locally by visiting local farmer’s markets and family-owned butchers, bakeries, or food shops in your community, rather than national chains. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about where they’ve sourced their food!
Create a More Sustainable Home
Eco-friendly living starts in the home! There are so many easy and effective ways to change your home for the better.
We recommend purchasing eco-friendly house cleaning chemicals, or even making your own. It’s not hard to make your own soap, or common household products like vinegar and baking powder are extremely powerful cleaning tools.
If you make use of housekeeping services, look for an organic cleaning service that will keep your home clean in a natural way.
You can also start a compost pile in your backyard, which helps to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills. As an added bonus, the material that’s left behind is rich in nutrients, making an amazing natural fertilizer for your plants and garden.
Get Involved in the Community
We all play a role in the success of our neighborhood and community, so sometimes getting involved can be a powerful way to make an impact.
For example, why not lobby your local government about environmental issues? Perhaps you convince them to turn abandoned land into a park or to install more recycling areas in public areas.
Team up with other passionate neighbors and brainstorm what you can do together to create a more eco-friendly community. Two (or three) minds are always better than one, so there’s power in coming together to create change.
Recycle and Freecycle Whenever You Can
If you’re not already, be sure to recycle as much as you can within your home and in the office. Sort your recycling into categories as instructed by your pickup service, or take the time to drop them off at a recycling center if there’s no pickup within your town.
You can always look for the small recycling symbol on packaging and materials to see if it’s recyclable—if the symbol is there, make sure it doesn’t end up in the trash!
Another great thing you can do is ‘freecycle’—that is, give away things you no longer need. For example, say you have an old toy the kids no longer need.
Instead of throwing it in the trash, why not ask your neighbors if anyone wants it? That way, you’re reducing the number of items you throw away, and you’re helping your neighbors get something they need without them having to buy it.
You’ll find plenty of freecycle groups on platforms like Facebook and Reddit, so checking them out is one of the best ways to get started.
Make a Statement With Your Wallet
One of the best ways to show your commitment to a sustainable life is by supporting sustainable businesses. Vote with your wallet and only support companies that share the same values as you.
Although it does take some effort and research to find out how sustainable a business really is, it’s worth taking the time.
Or, if you find a company that you used to love has some unsustainable practices, it’s worth taking the time to send them a quick email, explaining why they no longer have your business. If enough customers speak out, this can force companies to change their behavior.
Install Solar Panels
It’s a big step, but if it’s within your budget, installing solar panels on your home can be an amazing thing to do. By switching to solar power, you’re reducing or eliminating your dependence on fossil fuels like gas and coal for powering your home.
Instead, you’re creating your own renewable power source as the panels convert rays from the sun into usable power. Keep in mind that many homeowners also qualify for tax credits if they install solar, thanks to a government incentive to help people afford the installation process.
Be Smarter With Your Energy Usage
Even if solar isn’t for you, there are still lots of simple ways to use less energy. This is going to help you become more sustainable, but it’s also going to rescue your power bills.
One thing you can do is switch your light bulbs. Energy-efficient bulbs, like LEDs, use 25-80% less energy than traditional bulbs.
They last longer too, so why not invest in new bulbs as a way to save on power costs?
Also, think about ways you can use less energy around the house. For example, can you hang the laundry out to dry instead of running the dryer as often?
Or, can you open the windows more often on warmer days, instead of switching on the air conditioning?
Change How You Commute
How do you get to work each morning? If you can change your commute to a more eco-friendly one, this is fantastic for the planet.
Walking or cycling to work can be amazing ways to commute, as you get to enjoy fresh air, get some exercise, and you’re not contributing any pollution to the planet.
However, if you’re currently driving to work, think about either carpooling or taking public transportation, at least a few days each week. You’ll save money on gas, avoid the rush hour traffic, and feel better about the choices you’re making.
Use These Ideas to Embrace Sustainable Living
There you have it—some of the best ways to try out sustainable living! Although no one can do it all, if you can commit to a few meaningful changes, this will make a huge difference to the planet.
However, if you occasionally forget your bags when grocery shopping or can’t always shop local, don’t be too hard on yourself. Becoming more sustainable is a gradual process, and over time, you’ll develop new habits.
Get started today by adding some of the above ideas into your daily life. Even better, share them with friends and family, encouraging them to become more sustainable too!
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