Whether it's for pandemic reasons or otherwise, you spend a lot of time at home. The more sustainable you can make it, the more healthy your immediate environment will be! And implementing small shifts in your behavior, products, or consumption habits will ripple outwards to make a bigger positive impact for the planet.
To help, we’ve gathered 10 simple sustainable living tips to help you get started.
1. Make Your Own Cleaning Products
When it comes to green cleaning, white vinegar is about to become your best friend. Armed with simple recipes and a little elbow grease, you’ll be able to tackle everything from your stinky garbage disposal to your mildew-y shower and grease-splattered cook top without any exposure to toxins. Here are a few simple recipes to get you started: for general kitchen cleaning, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of water to easily wipe messes away. Or, pour baking soda directly onto a damp sponge and scrub to remove grease splatters and food residues from your stove top. When in doubt, combine white vinegar + baking soda + lemon juice to clean just about anything.
2. Be Water Wise
Just .4% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and far too much of that gets wasted every day. You can make a huge positive impact by taking shorter showers, fixing any leaky pipes around the house, washing your clothes in cold water, or even sticking something heavy (such as a full plastic water bottle) into your toilet tank to reduce the amount that gets flushed down the drain.
3. Grow a Garden
Try growing your own food… and don’t worry: it’s easier than it looks! Simply plant a few seeds in a corner of your yard or, if you’re an apartment-dweller, on your porch or windowsill. You don’t need acres: just a few square feet can provide enough space to grow a bounty of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Seeds not sprouting? Try this easy saran wrap greenhouse hack: secure plastic wrap over the surface of a freshly sown seed pot to help keep the moisture level constant. When the seeds start to sprout, uncover and keep watered as you watch your edible plants grow.
4. Support Renewables
If you own your home, consider having solar panels installed on your roof. If you don’t, or if an installation just isn’t feasible right now, you can still make a difference. Let your utility know that you want to get your energy from 100% renewable sources. Urge your school, pension fund, office, banks, etc., to divest from fossil fuels if they haven’t already. And remember to turn the lights off every time you leave a room. The little things really do add up!
5. Unplug Electronics
If a device or appliance is plugged in, it's using energy even if it isn't actively charging. This is sometimes called "standby electricity loss" because the device still draws power. Unplugging your devices when not in use will not only ensure that you're not wasting precious energy, it might just save you money on your next energy bill. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of unused but plugged-in devices costs about $165 per household or 19 billion dollars annually in the US, generating about 44 million tons of carbon. Use power strips to make it easier to unplug several things at once, and for things such as printers that you only use in a while, just make it a habit to keep it unplugged except when you need it.
6. Speak Up
Use your voice to advocate for sustainability, but not by trying to convince those who aren’t interested in changing their behaviors. Find opportunities to speak about why you’re passionate about nature or wildlife, join like-minded groups or coalitions who lean on power in numbers to affect change, or simply share your own positive actions with friends and family to spark their curiosity.
7. Make Your Diet Sustainable
The food you eat every day has a huge impact on the planet. Opting for organic, supporting local farmers, and phasing out or at least reducing meat will absolutely make a difference. And because so much of the food we buy ends up in the trash, try meal planning to streamline your shopping, and compost whatever you don’t use. You’ll be able to save money and build up a nice stash of food for your growing plants!
8. Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.
Waste guidelines can be confusing, so reach out to your local waste treatment facility to find out exactly what they do and don’t accept. You might be surprised to learn that things you’ve been dutifully tossing in the bin (re: yogurt cups) get incinerated or baled and sent to third world countries.
9. Waste Not, Want Not
We live in a consumer-driven society, and with that comes a lot of waste. Reducing waste may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. You may not have the time or resources to do it perfectly, but don’t let that stop you! Ditch the plastic bottles and install a water filter. Avoid single use plastics like disposable razors, cutlery, straws, plates, and cups, opting for the ol’ soap and elbow grease method. Make cloth rags out of old, unsalvageable clothing and use those in place of paper towels for deep cleaning projects. Basically, strive to live like your great grandparents did and you’ll be well on your way.
10. Plant Trees
Reforestation has consistently ranked as the #1 climate change solution—and with good reason! Trees help to stabilize our climate by absorbing pollution and sequestering carbon, while creating breathable oxygen. In fact, one mature tree can sequester up to 48lbs of carbon in one year. They also modulate temperatures, provide wildlife habitat, create a positive social impact, and so much more. Clearly, they’re friends worth keeping in our corner. Plant one today!
We hope these simple ideas have you feeling inspired and ready to adopt a sustainable lifestyle! Hungry for more? Consider becoming a tree ambassador with us!
We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?
by Meaghan Weeden