Unfortunately, convenience can sometimes be the enemy of sustainability. You know you should wait to recycle that cup, but the garbage is just so close. Or, you want to start bringing your lunch in reusable containers, but you always end up eating on-the-go and hate having to carry around dirty dishes.
Luckily, it’s simpler than ever to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle—especially if you’re working from home.
But regardless of how often you venture beyond your front porch, you can easily implement these five small life changes to create a more sustainable future.
#1 Recycling & Compost
Far too much of our daily waste goes straight into the trash can when it doesn’t have to. A surprising amount of paper, cardboard, plastic, and more can either be recycled or composted.
Here are a few quick tips for getting started:
- Compost – Purchase a medium-sized stainless-steel compost bin. Use it for any food waste or soiled paper, including fruit peels, eggshells, and cardboard pizza boxes.
- Recycling – Separate out soft plastics, including clean plastic wrap, sandwich baggies, and candy wrappers. Use another bin for returnables, like soda cans, milk jugs, and wine bottles that can be taken to a bottle depot for money. Finally, designate another container for regular recyclables.
If your state doesn’t have proper waste-collection programs in place, you can register through certain independent agencies that handle compost and recycling pick-up.
#2 Conserve Energy When You Can
Solar energy is great, but it’s not an option for everyone. However, we can all conserve energy by being mindful of our water, heat, and electricity use.
A few small changes will help you eliminate these energy-sucks from your day-to-day life:
- Machine wash cold – Hot water makes up a huge portion of your washing machine’s total energy expended. Plus, cold water should reduce the risk of shrinkage and color bleeding.
- Unplug appliances – Obviously, you can’t unplug your stove or dishwasher, but you can unplug small kitchen appliances like your toaster, blender, electric kettle, and panini press. Don’t worry, they’ll still be there when you need them. You can also create your stove yourself:
- Lights off – Get into the habit of turning the lights off whenever you leave a room. You can even get an automatic 7-day digital timer for your light switch—stop worrying, but keep conserving!
This is perhaps the easiest—and cheapest!—way to live more sustainably. By lowering your energy bill each month, you’ll be helping the environment and your bottom line.
#3 Reusable Water Bottle
Living more sustainably means cutting out single-use, disposable plastics. You don’t have to ditch it all at once, but purchasing a sturdy, reusable water bottle is a great place to start.
Hopefully, you’re drinking water every day. A new water bottle is a one-time purchase that makes a big impact over time. Depending on your preference, there are plenty of size options to choose from—even a 20 oz bottle will keep you hydrated throughout the day.
#4 Replace Paper Products With Cloth
Paper towels and napkins are not only expensive, but they also make up a considerable portion of our everyday trash. Swap out your ultra-absorbent paper products for more environmentally friendly, washable, and reusable versions:
- Napkins – A set of eight or so cloth napkins won’t cost you much more than $20 and you’ll be able to wash and reuse them for the next several years.
- Cleaning products – Ditch the wasteful paper towel (and toxic cleaning sprays) for a microfiber cleaning cloth. The fabric’s unique technology requires water and nothing else to remove up to 99% of household bacteria and grime.
- Multipurpose dish rags – Quit wiping up spills with a handful of paper towels when one reusable cloth or rag will do the trick. Use new cloths in the kitchen until they’re stained and unsightly; then, they can become designated “housework rags” for oil, grime, and dirt.
#5 Avoid Fast Fashion
It’s fun to shop online for the latest trendy clothes, but they often go out of style as quickly as they came in. You’re left with a cheaply made t-shirt that ends up in a landfill somewhere in no time. There are better ways to be fashionable this year!
Consider purchasing more durable, timeless clothing items:
- Skip the one-time party dress in favor of an outfit you’ll wear 20 times or more
- Spend a little extra on your winter jacket to get the most out of it
- Stick to neutral pieces that pair well with the rest of your closet
Be Nice to Your Wallet And The Environment
A lot of sustainable habits can seem expensive at first. More often than not, however, these eco-friendly choices end up saving us money in the long run. They cost more upfront, but before you know it, you’ll be spending less overall on plastic water bottles, paper towels, and cheap clothes.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, can we even be surprised when a $4 bikini or $12.50 cocktail dress doesn’t fit right? If it seems too good to be true, it probably is…