Living Sustainably: 10 Tips on How to Be More Sustainable

Meaghan Weeden | August 11, 2022 | 5 min read

10 Sustainable Living Tips to Level Up Your Personal Sustainability

Do you drive an electric car, subsist on lentils, and refuse to throw anything away? Is your library stocked with dog-eared copies of Silent Spring, A Sand County Almanac, and The World Without Us and your home outfitted with solar panels, smart switches, beehives, and compost galore? Then you might just be an environmentalist!

Just getting started on your journey and feeling overwhelmed by all the ways to live more sustainably? That's completely normal and okay, too — you don't have to have it all figured out to make a difference for the planet! As we often say around here, "don't let perfect be the enemy of the good." The world needs lots of people doing sustainability imperfectly, rather than just a handful of people doing it perfectly (but we commend those that are!).

We’ve come up with a list of 10 ways to be more sustainable. And whether you're a seasoned eco-warrior or a newbie to all things green, there's something on this list for everyone looking for sustainable living tips. So let's dig in!

Here Are 10 Eco Friendly Tips To Help You Reduce Your Environmental Footprint for Sustainable Living

handmade soap bar

1. Make your own soap

The chemical additives, micro-plastic beads, and plastic packaging that come with most soaps pose a threat to our health and planetary health, but have you ever considered making your own soap?

You’ll be able to choose your ingredients wisely, using the best locally sourced, eco-friendly goodness you can find. Plus, just one batch can keep you and your family abundantly clean for months! Nervous about working with lye? Just do your research, invest in the proper gear (you can probably find at least some of it at a local thrift store), and follow all safety precautions. You’ve got this! 💪

hands holding compost

2. compost or Start a worm farm 

Composting is a great way to reduce food waste, feed your garden, and do your bit for the planet, one meal at a time. One easy way to get into it is to establish a worm compost system and let the creepy-crawlies do the work for you! Getting started is the hardest part, but once your worms are settled into their new home, they can eat 1/2 of their weight in food scraps every day. So if you start with 1 lb. of worms (which we recommend), they’ll eat 1/2 lb. of scraps! Most of the same rules apply to vermi-composting as do to the garden-variety kind, so if you’re already familiar with the practice, this will be an easy peasy way to build a steady supply for all of your gardening needs. Need a primer? Check out our quick-start Compost Guide!

plastic bottle

3. Build a plastic bottle greenhouse

Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down. Some clever gardeners use that unfortunate fact to their advantage by creating sturdy, long-lasting plastic bottle greenhouses. Even if you live a plastic-free life, there are plenty that don't. Get your neighbors, friends, family, schools, or even local restaurants to fill bins that you provide with uniformly sized plastic bottles. Chances are, they’ll be glad to get rid of them — and you’ll eventually have enough (1400, to be exact) to build this awesome greenhouse. After you’ve completed the project, you can serve everyone a meal made that's made exclusively from greenhouse-grown veggies and gently educate them on the importance of cutting plastic out of their lives. 

beeswax wrap

4. Make your own beeswax wraps 

Speaking of cutting plastic out of our lives, a genius solution for wrapping up leftovers, transporting snacks, and more: beeswax wraps! Making them is simple: all you’ll need are fabric scraps, beeswax, jojoba oil, and pine resin, as well as some basic kitchen supplies. Pine resin can be found any time a pine tree falls down or loses a branch. But before you go around scraping trees, be sure that you aren’t stealing. Only harvest resin that has dripped well below the area of injury — or harvest exclusively from trees that have fallen. And if you’re afraid to harm your favorite woody coni-FRIENDS, consider sourcing it from a sustainable harvester. 

bamboo water pipe

5. Set up a laundry-to-landscape Greywater system

As you know, greywater is our dirty secret. Containing traces of dirt, food, grease, and household cleaning products, it gets diverted straight to our septic systems and wastewater treatment plants — eventually to be released into rivers, lakes, and estuaries. And unfortunately, even the most innocent-looking greywater can quickly pollute and damage aquatic environments. Slow the flow and cut down on water waste by setting up a laundry-to-landscape greywater system. An easy starting point for greywater newbies, this system doesn’t require any alteration of household plumbing and can be customized with ease. 

repairing appliance

6. Find (or start) a repair cafe near you

It’s no secret that we throw away way too much stuff. And although repairing things was once common knowledge, many of the skills needed to do so have fallen out of regular use. That’s where repair cafes come in: open to the public, they're inclusive events where knowledge, tools, and materials are shared freely with anyone that has something they need to fix. From clothes to furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, and more, there's probably someone there who can help you fix it. If not, they can help you find the right professional. In a world that feels like it’s slowly being drowned by the tide of consumerism, repair cafes are a welcome niche of resilience and community! 

sustainability tips
electronics

7. REDUCE YOUR ENERGY CONSUMPTION

In many homes, electronics are left plugged 24/7, secretly stealing ghost power, burning up fossil fuels, and hijacking your electric bill. That toaster doesn’t look so innocent now, does it? Fighting these energy vampires won’t require facing off with Dracula — instead you’ll have to vanquish an even scarier demon: your habits. Turn the lights off every time you leave a room, unplug all unused electronics, and consider investing in smart strips to regain control over your electrical usage. If it helps, leave yourself reminders using sticky notes! Using less energy goes a long way to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

farmers market

8.  be mindful of your car usage

We get it: in many parts of the world, vehicles are a necessary evil. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a car named Betsy and you ain’t givin' er' up. In addition to choosing public transportation when possible,  there are plenty of tweaks that you can make to waste less gas and reduce your impact if you drive a gas or diesel powered vehicle. These include regular maintenance and tire pressure checks, unloading any heavy cargo asap, avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking (we see you, Mr. Road Rage), cooling down with open windows instead of AC, and turning off your engine any time you’re waiting (this includes being stuck in line) for longer than 1 minute.

vehicle in traffic

9. Shop local: commit to buying 50% from local sources

When large swaths of rainforest are cut down every day to fill our plates, and then 1/3 of that gets thrown away, it’s pretty clear that there’s a problem. Looking to buy local products is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to shorter supply chains. Maybe you're already getting at least some of your food locally, but with some smart tweaks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fully-fledged locavore. When possible, support local farmers and keep it simple — life is sweeter that way, after all!

laundry basket

10. reduce your water consumption: skip a wash

No need to wash that pair of pants you wore to the office once — just spot clean it if necessary, this is an easy way to conserve water. Most washing machines waste a lot of water, and most loads are filled with clothes that aren't really dirty. Do your part for nature and hold off on laundry day until you’ve got a full load of well-worn garments. If possible, go old school and string up a clothesline to save on dryer-induced electrical costs.

There you have it! Those were 10 easy tips for sustainable living. If you're looking for more ways to live sustainably on a budget, be sure to read our tips on affordable sustainable living.

Want to learn more about how you can help the earth? Plant one tree today or consider joining our team of volunteers and become a One Tree Planted tree ambassador!

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most
Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

Plant Trees Where They're Needed Most

As the need for reforestation is global and ever-changing, we feature where trees are most needed now. For Treecember, we're planting trees that support a global forest fire recovery fund. Learn more

With your help, we will:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • This holiday season, we’re planting trees in areas around the world that have been severely affected by forest fires and aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own. The most common naturally-caused wildfires occur during droughts or dry weather, and under these circumstances, trees and other vegetation are converted to flammable fuel. Human-caused forest fires can be a result of various activities like unregulated slash and burn agriculture, equipment failure or engine sparks, and discarded cigarettes.

    After wildfires, reforestation is essential in areas where the fire intensity burned off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine where human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial. Help restore these vital ecosystems by planting a tree. 🌿
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. Some major consequences of forest fires include significant loss of wildlife, loss of vegetation, soil erosion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    With so much fire damage, reforestation is essential to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. One Tree Planted is connecting with on-the-ground partners to establish viable reforestation projects when the recently affected regions are ready for planting. This fund will contribute to planting projects in British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Portugal, and beyond. Let's get to work! 🌲
  • A personalized tree certificate (see gallery) to say thanks for your donation. We'll also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of tree and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

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