Sustainable Living: 65 Ways You Can Start Living More Sustainably

The way that we’re currently living is not sustainable. Our poor choices have led us to the current poor state and quality of our environment. Climate change is no longer a topic of discussion at the UN but a reality.

It’s about time each one of us gave sustainable living a sober thought if we want to save what is remaining of our environment. It’s up to all of us to try and make changes in the way we live.

Adopting more sustainable practices can start with small changes to reduce our environmental footprint and protect wild animals and plants.

What is Sustainable Living?

In very simple terms, sustainable living means practicing a lifestyle that uses as minimal natural resources as possible, in order to create the least amount of environmental damage.

If we continue to live the way we are by using all of our natural resources and continue to cause ongoing harm to the environment, future generations will not have enough resources available to sustain life on earth.

65 Ways to Live Sustainably

There are a number of different ways to adopt more sustainable living practices and live a more eco-concious life. Here are some simple ideas you can implement in different areas of your life. You don’t need to go all out simply start small, but start somewhere.

Live Sustainably by Changing Your Buying Habits

1. Consume less

Consuming less is by far the most effective way to live a truly sustainable lifestyle. A lot of the waste that we accumulate comes from purchasing stuff that we really don’t need or that is not good for us. Start by changing your mindset and try to consume only the stuff that you really need.

Related article: Zero Waste Living

2. Use what you have

Avoid wastage by using what you already have before you head to the store for new stuff. Want to store in your fridge? Use reusable containers or reusable sandwich bags  instead of buying storage plastic bags. Want to buy cleaning cloths? Check your wardrobe for an old shirt and cut it up into rags.

All you need to do is get creative and you’ll save a ton of money and the environment too.

3. Buy products without packaging wherever possible, or at least with recyclable packaging

Plastic produce bags always end up in the trash bin. Plastic is one of the most dangerous things for our environment. Reduce the amount of plastic bags that end up in your trash bin by buying your products loose and carry them in reusable produce bags or containers. If some products are not available loose, buy brands that use recyclable cardboard boxes, reusable jars or containers.

Related article: Sustainable Products 

4. Bring reusable shopping bags

In an effort to eradicate plastic bags, always use reusable shopping bags for your grocery shopping instead of having the store pack your stuff in plastic paper bags.

5. Shop local

Shopping local is not only great for the local economy but also great for the environment as most local markets and stores use a lot less plastic to wrap their foods. Shopping local is a great way to find more zero waste options and at a bargain.

6. Say no to trends

Trends are fascinating. They are hard to ignore and can be quite tempting. You’re not alone if you find it hard to say no to every new trend in fashion, gadgets or games, etc. if you want to practice sustainable living you have to give up this guilty pleasure. Whenever the temptation comes knocking ask yourself if whatever you want to buy now will be useful a year from now.

7. Purchase fair trade

There’s so much that we consume on a daily basis that is imported from all over the world— especially stuff such as coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, chocolate, vegetables, and fruits. Look for the fair-trade certification before you buy it.

The certification shows eco-friendly products that are grown or manufactured using sustainable methods and that the local people are getting paid fair prices and wages for the goods and services.

Sustainable Living Around the House

8. Recycle everything you can

Before you throw out anything consider if it can be recycled. Most stuff in your home can be recycled—from plastic to cardboard to paper to aluminium cans and bottles.

9. Use energy-efficient light bulbs

CFL or LED bulbs use less energy compared to regular incandescent bulbs. You can save up to 35 per cent energy consumed in lighting your home or office if you install energy-efficient bulbs.

10. Clean or replace air filters

Did you know that your air conditioner and heater use the most energy in your home? And as if that’s not enough, they use even more energy when their filters are dirty. Clean or replace dirty filters as recommended to save energy.

11. Do full loads

The amount of water and energy used for a full load is almost as much as what is used for half a load. It’s therefore, more efficient to use your dishwasher and washing machine when they are full.

12. Save water

Unknown to most people, water is a finite resource. The earth is running out of water at an alarming rate due to our wasteful practices. To live sustainably make a conscious effort to conserve household water use.

There are lots of ways you can save water around the home such as installing water-efficient toilets and showerheads, using energy-efficient dishwashers and washing machines, adding aerators to your sink faucets, and even reusing water.

Related article: How to Save Water in the Home – 26 Ways to Conserve Water at Home

13. Switch to solar energy

Solar energy uses natural energy from the sun and can reduce your energy bills to almost zero.

14. Ditch the paper towels

It’s so easy and convenient to use paper towels whenever you want to dry your hands but unfortunately, it’s a convenience that’s causing grave damage to trees and the earth in general. Give up paper towels for cloths, towels, dishcloths, and sponges for your drying needs.

Related article: Why is Deforestation Bad? Top Consequences of Deforestation

15. Use bar soap

Liquid soap needs to be packed in a bottle. Most companies use plastic bottles that will usually be thrown in the bin. Bar soap, however, comes in a wrapper that’s often made of paper. You can find lots of bar soap brands using biodegradable packaging.

16. Repair your things

We are living in a world where if something breaks we trash it instead of repairing it even though it’s so easy to make basic repairs to most stuff around the home. Even if you can’t do it yourself, you can find a professional to do it.

Practice buying a few high-quality items and repairing them when necessary instead of buying loads of cheap, disposable stuff and give a hand in protecting the environment.

17. Avoid using the dryer. Line dry your clothes

Save energy by air-drying your clothes on a clothesline instead of using a dryer that will consume lots of energy to do something that you can do at zero cost.

18. Start composting

Composting is one of the best ways to reduce the trash in landfills. About 30% of what we throw away is food scraps and yard waste. Start composting this food waste and use it as a natural nontoxic fertilizer in your own garden.

Related article: Food Waste Stats

Opt for Sustainable Food Options

19. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is a very cost-effective way to grocery shop and will contribute to a more sustainable life especially if you buy local organic produce.

Dry foods such as grains, canned food, detergents, self-care products (body lotion, soaps, etc.), office and school supplies, etc. are a few items that you should consider buying in bulk.

20. Buy loose produce

Always buy your fruit and vegetables loose. You can take small bags shopping with you for your veggies and fruits.

21. Eat locally

Eat food grown locally instead of fruits, vegetables, and other products that have to be imported from all over the world. Such foods consume huge amounts of fossil fuel energy to get them to your local supermarket.

22. Prepare your own food

There’s no better way to live sustainably than by preparing home-cooked meals instead of having take out. You will save so much plastic every year as well as money!

23. Bring your lunch to work

Don’t just eat dinner a home, take a packed lunch to school or work. Go even further by carrying your food in eco-friendly and sustainable lunch boxes instead of plastic ones.

24. Swap tea bags for loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer

Tea bags contain plastic in their packaging. Reduce this plastic waste by using loose leaf tea in a reusable strainer instead of tea bags.

25. Don’t buy bottled water

Do you drink lots of water every day? Good on you! Unfortunately, while you’re doing your body some good, you’re harming the environment by buying bottled water. Instead, buy a eco-friendly water bottle and refill it with water every time you need some.

26. Eat less meat

Meat is expensive and bad for the environment. 70 per cent of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed so that people can raise cows. Meat production by the way of intensive farming results in more carbon emissions than any other protein. No need to become a vegan, just try to eat more vegetables than meat.

Related article: Sustainability Facts: [20] Fun Facts About Sustainable Living

27. Grow your own food

Growing your own food is not as overwhelming as you imagine it to be. You don’t even need a garden to do it. Simply grow herbs and veggies on a windowsill!

28. Don’t waste food

Almost 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year. This kind of waste adds to the amount of carbon emission in landfills.

Related article: Facts About Waste

29. Be particular about the fish you eat

When buying fish ensure that you check what kind of fish you’re getting. Some species are so rare and on the verge of extinction. Don’t buy such.

Be Conscious about Sustainable Travel and Tourism

30. Seek out green options

Staying in fancy hotels is exciting but to practice sustainable living even as you travel, stay in hotels that support sustainability. Such hotels recycle or compost waste, and use renewable energy. Ecolodges are an especially good option as they are designed to promote conservation.

31. Avoid animal exploitation

Tourism has become a culprit for promoting animal cruelty. Be friendly to wildlife by practising sustainable tourism. Go see animals in their own environments, instead of places that hold animals in captivity such as zoos. Don’t promote wildlife performances, animal rides or use of animals as photographic props either.

32. Offset your impact

Planes emit a lot of carbon as they get people from one place to another. You can help reduce your carbon footprint as you travel by flying fuel-efficient airlines.

You can also help the environment by offsetting your air travel. Offsetting is where you donate funds to an organization to invest in an ecologically beneficial project. This can be planting trees or developing renewable energy, for the purpose of compensating for the carbon added to the atmosphere. So instead of flying business fly economy and donate the extra money.

33. Do not purchase or eat endangered species

You probably can’t wait to indulge in the local delicacies in the next place you plan to visit. However, be careful about what you indulge in. Don’t eat food made from endangered species such as turtle egg soup. Also, don’t buy illegal-trade animal souvenirs made from seashells or ivory.

34. Don’t litter

Littering is responsible for most of the trash that finds its way into our drainages and oceans. Be conscious of the environment especially when abroad.

Handle your trash well as you enjoy your trip around the world and throw it away the right way. If you can avoid having any trash in the first place the better!

35. Take public transit

Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is to use local public transportation instead of hailing an Uber, a taxi or renting a car whenever you need to move around.

36. Reduce energy consumption

Try your best to reduce your energy consumption wherever you go regardless of where you choose to stay. Use resources such as electricity and water efficiently.

37. Eat local

If you’re staying in a place with a kitchen that you can use for your cooking needs, tour the local farmer’s market or ethical grocery store and buy some veggies and meat and make your own food. When dining at restaurants, go to the local outlets instead of international fast food joints.

Make Sustainable Fashion Choices

38. Buy second hand

When buying stuff for your house such as furniture or even clothes consider buying preloved items. You’ll be surprised by the gems you’ll find in stores that sell second-hand items.

39. Invest in quality items

High-quality items may cost you a fortune but they last longer and you won’t have to keep replacing them over and over. They are also more likely to be repaired should they break.

40. Become a minimalist with a capsule wardrobe

Take a look at your wardrobe. How many pieces of your clothing items do you wear? I’m pretty sure you have a handful that are your favorite. Clear out the items you no longer wear, donate them and keep your wardrobe minimalistic.

41. Support ethical fashion brands

Should you need to buy new clothes always go for brands that support the environment in the way they produce their products. Always look for ethical fashion brands that use environmentally friendly materials to make their items.

42. Mend clothes

In a bid to keep your wardrobe minimal try to mend any worn-out clothes that you still love instead of buying new ones. You can easily do it with basic sewing skills and the right tools. If you can’t do it yourself, take it to a professional.

Swap To Sustainable Beauty Practices

43. Let your hair dry naturally

Save energy by letting your hair dry naturally instead of using a blow dryer unless on those special occasions you need to get ready quickly.

44. Avoid facial wipes

Facial wipes are single-use items that end up in the garbage bin wasting too much paper. Use a cleanser instead and with your face with a damp washable cloth.

45. Use natural beauty options

Speaking of cleaning your face, there are some good eco-friendly beauty options that you can use for your face. Look for beauty products that are made from natural ingredients such as coconut oil or aloe vera.

46. Support sustainable beauty brands

When buying your beauty products go for non-toxic makeup brands that make organic beauty products. Such products do not contain any chemicals, parabens, phthalates or genetically modified ingredients.

47. Refill where possible

Before throwing out and replacing stuff especially around your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom, see if you’re able to get a refill. More and more brands are now providing refills to reduce the amount of packaging used. Buying a refill is also cheaper than buying a replacement.

48. Reusable cotton pads

Use reusable cotton pads to remove your makeup. These are sustainable and will reduce waste. Better still, they can be for all skin types.

49. Use microfiber cloths

Microfiber cloths are another great eco-friendly option that you can use to remove your makeup. You can also use these cloths when washing your face and exfoliating. You only need to clean them well after each use.

50. Choose cruelty-free

Choose brands that support animal welfare by not testing their products on animals. Brands committed to a sustainable living will always be open about all the work they’re doing to become more sustainable and enviromentally-friendly.

51. Start with one product and take your time

Following a sustainable beauty routine may not be easy or even cheap. So to get started swap your beauty products out gradually as you make your transition into a more sustainable routine.

Sustainable Living On The Go

52. Bring your reusables (coffee cups, cutlery, takeaway container, etc)

Pack a coffee cup for your to-go coffee, a reusable water bottle for your daily water refill and a takeaway container and cutlery for your take out. Doing this will reduce the amount of single-use plastic significantly,

53. Say no to plastic (straws, cutlery, etc)

When buying takeout meals and drinks opt for non-plastic or reusable straws and cutlery.

54. Start biking or walking

Give up the car every now and then and walk or ride a bike. Even if it’s just to do a few errands over the weekends.

55. Switch to an eco-friendly car

It may be difficult to give up your car so how about replacing your diesel or petroleum-fueled car for an eco-friendly alternative with zero or reduced emissions.

56. Try working remotely

Not all companies will allow their employees to work remotely but if you’re among the lucky few, jump right into the opportunity. Working remotely will reduce carbon emissions as you won’t be driving your car as often.

Choose Sustainable Products

57. Use eco-friendly cleaning products

Stop buying chemical-based cleaning products and turn to non-toxic environmentally friendly ones. Chemical-based products cause harm to your family, pets and the environment.

Relate article: Green Cleaning Products

58. Non-toxic beauty

Most beauty products have harmful ingredients that are not only harmful to our bodies but the environment. Shifting to non-toxic beauty products will keep your skin safe and reduce the use of plastic so you can enjoy living sustainably.

59. Buy ethically made fashion

A lot of the gorgeous fashion items you see on storefronts are made by poor people living in third world countries who get paid peanuts.

They are also produced using toxic materials such as nylon. Eco-friendly clothing brands, however, ensure that all their employees are paid fair wages and use eco-friendly material.

60. Eco-friendly personal care products

For real sustainable living, go for eco-friendly personal hygiene products that are biodegradable. Get body wash, toothpaste, face scrub, and other hygiene products that do not contain toxins or plastics.

61. Eco-friendly jewelry

When buying jewelry, consider getting those made from recycled gold jewelry. Recycled gold jewelry is environmentally friendly and lowers the demand for newly mined gold.

Related article: 10 Best Sustainable Jewelry Brands Reviewed And Compared

62. Invest in energy-efficient appliances for the home

Get energy-efficient appliances such as washer, dryer, and fridge. When shopping for appliances go for those with ENERGY STAR ratings and logo. These appliances use less energy.

63. Buy ethically sourced/produced food

Shop for food that is sourced locally or produced in an ethical manner. This includes using organic fertilizer and brands that pay their farmers fair wages.

64. Use plastic-free feminine hygiene products

Instead of using tampons and sanitary pads go for washable cloth liners and pads. You can also find eco-friendly sanitary pads made from organic cotton. Some women prefer the Diva Cup, which is reusable.

65. Get some wire pegs for clothes

Plastic pegs may be cheap but they are such poor quality and will need replacing every so often. In addition, they are harmful to the environment. A better alternative is stainless steel that lasts forever and won’t need constant replacing.

Sustainable living is not easy, it requires you to make sustainable lifestyle changes. The good thing is that no change is too small. All you have to do is to be proactive when it comes to adopting a sustainable lifestyle and you’ll succeed in due time!

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  Stella - Writer

Stella is a writer and mother from Thika, Kenya.

Her love for nature and the beautiful Kenyan outdoors has inspired Stella to consciously make an effort to lead a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle.