We’ve all heard the sage advice on the importance of living sustainably – the advice to choose sustainable or vintage clothing rather than fast fashion, to purchase less, reduce waste and to minimize our environmental. Living sustainably helps with preventing overflow in landfills and protects the planet little bit more for future generations.
If we dig a little deeper, the first definition of sustainability that pops up on google from Oxford Language is “The avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”.
This makes a lot of sense, however sometimes it is hard to know which purchase is sustainable. It can also be difficult to come up with actions that help to minimize our impact on the environment while remaining achievable within our unique personal constraints – budget or otherwise.
After a little research with the goal of finding sensible strategies to support sustainability at home, I’ve come up with 15 simple strategies we can easily embrace to be more sustainable in our daily lives. Every little bit counts. Some of these tips are already very familiar if you’re embracing less consumption. All of these are easy to try if you’re just starting to explore and learn more about sustainability:
- Reduce waste of all kinds by minimizing usage of water, paper and the purchase of any physical goods that will eventually lie in a corner unused at home. Spend 5 minutes less in the shower than you normally would. Carry a water bottle with you rather than purchasing water or bottled drinks when you leave home. Instead of printing something, email it to yourself instead.
- Reduce energy usage. Unplug all appliances when not in use. Turn off the lights, fans and any other cooling or heating devices when not in use. Dry your clothes on a drying rack (especially clothes that dry quickly) instead of using a dryer. Car pool, walk or take public transportation whenever possible. Use solar power, energy efficient bulbs and smart power strips that sense when plugged in devices aren’t in use and turn the power off.
- Use recycled paper whenever you can. There are recycled paper options for toilet paper, printer paper, notebooks and other paper goods. Use double sided printing if you have that option available to you.
- Purchase the groceries you need. Don’t overbuy produce that will eventually go bad and need to be thrown out.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances when you can. If you need to replace an appliance, choose the energy efficient option.
- Separate your recyclable waste from non-recyclable waste and make sure to place the recyclable waste in the recycling bin or drop it off at the appropriate location where you live.
- Purchase goods that are durable and last well over time rather than going for the option that will need to be replaced quickly even if it is a little cheaper. This will ensure that you are minimizing the lifetime environmental impact of addressing the need for that product.
- Turn off your laptop or use the sleep option when it is not in use! This is one that so many of us overlook. Use e-books instead of physical books and choose to do any writing on your laptop or phone when possible to save on using paper.
- Buy less. Use less. Be intentional about your consumption. Alter clothes that don’t fit. Borrow something that you’ll only use once every couple years. Share what you have so others can do the same. Change your consumption habits across the board. Value what you have and don’t rush out to buy things without asking yourself if you really need to purchase something new or purchase something at all.
- Make an effort to purchase organic produce from local farms. This supports local farmers and gives you the opportunity to buy pesticide-free food from its source with none of the environmental footprint that comes from shipping and distribution of foods that are from far away locations.
- Donate or sell your unused items to people who will appreciate and re-use them. Look to purchase used items if you need something that is available on the resale market. If buying used hasn’t been something you’ve considered before, explore websites like poshmark, thredup, ebay, facebook marketplace and others if you need something. You may end up with something that is practically new, much easier on your wallet while being an environmentally conscious purchase. Also, you’ll likely be contributing to a small business or individual which is always an excellent idea.
- Look for regulatory labels that indicate that something is eco-friendly, healthier and promotes fair practices when you’re purchasing something new. Some examples are the EnergyStar label on appliances, the Fair Trade certified label on edible, packaged products, the USDA label on organic pesticide-free produce and the BPI certified compostable label on plastics.
- When purchasing new, consider purchasing clothing made from eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, tencel, wool and silk. These fabrics are either renewable (they take less time to biodegrade than polyester which can take hundreds of years) or are made from less toxic chemicals. Look for brands that emphasize slow fashion. This means that these organizations are treating their workers fairly, supporting local economies, minimizing waste and toxic outputs and inputs, and minimizing their impact on the environment when designing their production processes. For more specifics on shopping sustainably online you can read my post “Sustainability and online shopping – 3 ways we can shop better”.
- Think of ways that you can reduce your own environmental impact as you go about your day. Keep educating yourself on new and creative ways to minimize your environmental footprint. After awhile, it will be easier to be intentional and environmentally conscious about your decisions on a daily basis.
- Plant your own herb and/or vegetable garden. If you have a small garden patch outside, plant some herbs and vegetables. If not, consider growing your own herbs in small pots indoors. This can be a fun family project on a weekend.
Have you found any other good ways to be sustainable and minimize your environmental impact?