In the last decade or so, sustainable living has been at the forefront in our fight to combat climate change. But why is sustainable living important?
Sustainable living is an important part of protecting our earth and preserving our resources for future generations. But if you’re new to the climate action movement—or you’re looking for sustainable living tips for a friend or family member—it can help to have ideas of where to start.
From the everyday items you use to how you travel and shop, we’re breaking down ten sustainable living ideas you can easily incorporate right away. So what are some examples of sustainable living? Read on.
#1 Making Your Voice Heard
While even small lifestyle changes can create positive effects on the planet, climate change reversal can’t happen without massive-scale action by powerful institutions.
To contribute to change at scale in your everyday life, you can make your voice heard by:
- Placing regular calls or sending emails to your federal, state, and local representatives. You can find contact information for your representatives at USAGov.
- Voting and volunteering for candidates committed to climate action. You can look up your local candidates and learn about their stances on websites like Ballotpedia.
- Participating in direct actions that lead to institutional pressure. You can find resources on climate advocacy groups on websites like the US Climate Action Network (USCAN).
#2 Phasing Out Single-Use Plastic
Single-use plastics account for 40% of the plastic produced yearly. These include plastic bags, food wrappers, bottled water containers, and others that don’t degrade for years.
While you contribute to systemic change-making, you can advance the cause of sustainability at home by phasing out your use of single-use plastic items. Reducing your plastic use can have all kinds of positive effects for the planet—from reducing waste to conserving energy and resources. Eliminate plastic bags and bring a reusable tote to stores to lessen plastic waste.
Add the following reusable items to your home to decrease your reliance on disposable plastic products:
- Reusable water bottles made from metal, durable plastic, and glass
- Cloth grocery bags
- Glass or heavy-duty plastic leftovers containers
- Metal, silicone, or glass straws
#3 Turning Your Lawn into a Pollinator Paradise
While you may admire the look and feel of a lush, green lawn, maintaining perfectly-manicured grass simply isn’t sustainable. Each year, Americans use 3 trillion gallons of water, 200 million gallons of fuel, and 70 million pounds of pesticide products to maintain their lawns alone.
Instead of wasting time, resources, and money on a lawn, you can make your green space more sustainable by:
- Replacing grass with low-maintenance, organic alternatives like pebbles, pine straw, or mulch
- Introducing pollinator plants native to your ecosystem
- Completely replacing your grass with clover or wildflowers
#4 Reducing Your Household Energy Use
Reducing your household energy use can decrease the size of your overall carbon footprint, helping to lower your personal impact on the climate. It also can help you cut costs, but how does going green save money?
You can cut back on household energy use by:
- Changing the way you wash and dry clothes by using cold/cool water cycles to reduce water-heating energy use and opting for a clothesline instead of the dryer when the weather permits
- Taking shorter, cooler showers
- Unplugging appliances and devices when they’re not in use
#5 Using Reclaimed Water
Reclaimed water can be a powerful resource. In industrial applications, it can be used to extend water resources for everything from agriculture to environmental restoration. But you can also reclaim water to live more sustainably at home.
In general, reclaimed water is safe to use for:
- Watering plants
- Washing your car
- Bathing your pets
While there are ways to reclaim water from baths, showers, and laundry, you can easily start just by collecting rainwater. Do so by placing a few clean, five-gallon buckets around your property in areas where they can collect water every time it rains.
#6 Composting to Reduce Waste
Composting can help you reduce waste and bolster your home gardening efforts without using pesticides—thereby helping to sustain the health of your local environment.
Composting requires three main ingredients:
- Browns – Outdoor waste like branches and dead leaves
- Greens – Organic food products like vegetable peels, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds
- Water – Water helps your compost operation decompose at a healthy rate
In addition, many municipalities offer roadside compost pickup. If you don’t need compost in your yard, you might be able to put it at the curb for safe disposal.
#7 Rethinking Your Commute
You might be using more energy during your commute than you think. On average, people in the U.S. contribute 3.2 tonnes of CO2 per year just from their daily drive to and from work. Millions of greenhouse gas emissions are released into our atmosphere, leading to air pollution due to fossil fuel and other pollutants.
Instead of hopping in the car and riding by yourself to the office, consider more sustainable transportation methods like:
- Starting or joining a carpool with coworkers or neighbors
- Hitching a ride on public transit
- Biking, scootering, or skateboarding to work
#8 Shopping Conscientiously
There are many ways to live more sustainably through your wallet. One of these sustainable practices is purchasing goods and services from companies that do right by the environment.
Here’s how to shop sustainably:
- Make a list of the brands you use most often.
- Eliminate brands that create a negative environmental impact.
- Replace them with companies putting in the work for the planet.
- Shop at zero waste and Bring Your Own Container stores (BYOC).
- Buy only what you need and use all of it to lessen food waste.
You can take it a step further by only spending with an eco friendly debit card or green credit card that’s designed to help you save money and make a sustainable difference for the planet.
#9 Avoiding Fast Fashion
Living a sustainable lifestyle means saying goodbye to fast fashion.
According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion industry accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output and air pollution—a more significant carbon footprint than international flights and shipping combined. The U.S. throws away up to 11.3 million tons of textile yearly.
We all love the ability to find affordable, accessible clothing. But fast fashion brands can contribute to irresponsible energy use and encourage a wasteful mindset. This is because low-quality, cheap goods often aren’t sustainably produced and need to be quickly replaced.
Instead of opting for cheaply-made, low-price clothes, shoes, and accessories, you can decrease your waste and save money by spending a little more on a product that will last.
Speaking of long-lasting goods, plenty of them end up at thrift stores. This makes your local resale shop an excellent place to pick up high-quality, affordable products with life left in them.
Thrift stores have nearly everything these days:
- Home decor
- Storage solutions (like baskets and clothes hangers)
Small sustainable habits in your everyday life like opting for repurposed and reclaimed items rather than new ones goes a long way.
Sustainable living ideas like the ones we listed above are easy to incorporate into your everyday life.
Aspiration: Where You Can Fight Climate Change with Your Wallet
Did you know that your financial institution might be funding fossil fuels projects? In 2021 alone, the world‘s biggest financial services providers (including American institutions like Wells Fargo and Chase) provided $742 billion in financing to the fossil fuel industry.
If you’re looking for a simple way to incorporate sustainable practices and live green, consider switching to a sustainable financial services provider. Start living a sustainable life today.
Aspiration offers numerous money management solutions to help consumers contribute to the green economy, tackle their carbon footprints, and invest in climate change reversal.
When you switch to sustainable financial services, you can make a simple, personal change that contributes to climate action at scale.
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Natural Resources Defense Fund. More Sustainable (and Beautiful) Alternatives to a Grass Lawn. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/more-sustainable-and-beautiful-alternatives-grass-lawn
US Environmental Protection Agency. Composting at Home. https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home
Buffer. Is Remote Work Greener? We Calculated Buffer’s Carbon Footprint to Find Out. https://buffer.com/resources/carbon-footprint
Bloomberg. The Global Glut of Clothing Is an Environmental Crisis. https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2022-fashion-industry-environmental-impact/
Investopedia. Fast Fashion. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fast-fashion.asp
Reuters. World’s Top Banks Pumped $742 Bln into Fossil Fuels in 2021 – Report. https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/worlds-top-banks-pumped-742-bln-into-fossil-fuels-2021-report-2022-03-30/