Everyone wants to have a positive impact on the world, but sometimes it feels like living a sustainable lifestyle is only for the wealthy. But the ads you see for expensive “green” products or organic produce don’t tell the whole story.
They don’t even tell the best story. The most effective sustainable lifestyle changes are free and save money in the long run.
Reduce Food Waste
Keep an eye on what you’re throwing away. 165 billion pounds of food are thrown away in the United States each year. That food represents meals that could have fed hungry families and has a significant environmental impact.
Energy and water are used to produce food, even if it isn’t eaten. Wasted food is wasted resources. Discarded food goes into landfills and produces 34% of emissions of the greenhouse gas methane in the U.S.
The solution is to buy what you need and eat what you buy. Finish up those leftovers and keep an eye on your produce so it doesn’t go bad.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Decreasing the amount of energy you use during a regular day is remarkably quick and easy. Each of these small things contributes to sustainability and saves money.
- Turn down the thermostat. A reduction of even one degree can reduce your heating costs by 10%
- Turn off unused lights and appliances
- Don’t use your dryer for every load of laundry—air-dry clothes instead
- Walk or ride your bike to do errands instead of driving
- Turn off the water while you scrub your hands or brush your teeth
- Take shorter showers
- Turn down your water heater from 140 degrees to 120 degrees—most people won’t notice a difference and it saves both energy and money
Most people can make some, if not all, of these energy-saving changes. Living a sustainable lifestyle is a group effort and every change adds to the greater goal.
Reduce Plastic Use
Plastic pollution not only sits in landfills for centuries, but it also clogs waterways and devastates sea life. But you can reduce your contribution to the problem and become part of the solution by taking some relatively simple steps.
- Do not use single-use plastic bags—carry compact reusable bags
- Do not use plastic straws. This is not a political issue, it’s a simple way to reduce plastic pollution
- Avoid products in plastic containers. This seems tricky, but simple things like using bar soap instead of liquid soap reduce plastic waste and save money
- Carry reusable glass water bottles instead of buying bottled water
Living a sustainable lifestyle means knowing when to reuse, repurpose, swap, or borrow instead of buying new things that add to the planet’s collective clutter.
Use your local library. Buy clothing and other household goods used at local thrift shops and yard sales. Borrow and lend tools and infrequently used items. And finally, think before you buy. Saving money and saving the planet go hand in hand when you know how to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Related Reading: 4 Easy Ideas to Reduce Your Food Waste