13 tips for a more sustainable lifestyle
”A sustainable lifestyle attempts to reduce the use of earths natural resources and personal resources. Its the attempt to reduce the use of plastic and reduce your carbon footprint by using altering methods of energy, food, clothes, transportation.”
Bees and birds are disappearing. Sea Mammals are dying with plastic in their stomachs. The rainforests and their animals get destroyed because of the huge amounts of palm oil the industry wants. Beautiful nature gets destroyed because of our thirst for oil.
“By Earth Overshoot Day, we will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year.”
And this day comes earlier and earlier every year. In 2017 it has been the 2nd of August, and we actually would need 1,7 earths.
So what can we actually do to live a more sustainable lifestyle these days where everything needs to be quick and to go. A lot of people are flying a few times a year, our closets are full of clothes we don’t even wear, too much food goes to waste while others go hungry…..
It is impossible for most of us to live a 100% sustainable lifestyle. We would need to build our house out of recycled materials, need to grow our own food, make our own renewable energy, our own clothes, etc.
But we can do the best we can. We can make some easy changes.
We don’t need to give up everything. But we can be more mindful about what we have. We can use less. We can eat less meat, fly less, consume less, produce less trash, use less energy, etc.
First of all inform yourself about changes you could make.
Then make the decision.
Maybe collect your waste for a week or two and have a look what is the biggest part and where you can make changes, take a look at your consumption (what you eat, what you buy, how you get from A to B), check what you have in your house already and then lets get started.
1) Buy less and if you buy something, buy good, long lasting quality.
- If you are in a shop and about to buy something take a second and ask yourself: Do I really need this?
- If you are not sure, don’t buy it. Think about it for a week or a month. If you still want and need it buy it. If you forgot about it, you know you didn’t need it at all 😉
- Buy stuff only if you really need it and then buy good quality made of renewable resources or recycled materials (eg toilet paper always made of recycled paper or FSC, or bamboo). Many people are buying new things only because: its cheap, I just want something new, My neighbor got this so I need this too..
- You will even save some money if you just buy what you really need. And by buying good quality, it might seem a little too expensive first, but it will last for so much longer. I see people buying cheap things, those things break after a short time of usage and they buy another cheap one. On the long run it just becomes so much more expensive to buy cheap.
2) Quit single use plastic.
- Single use plastics might be convenient but actually choke and destroy our planet!
- They just become so unnecessary if you think about them. Used once, thrown away, but they could last forever because plastic is not biodegradable. Or a bag for a sandwich you are eating straight away? Like on a street food festival: you buy fries or a waffle and the food comes in a plastic container, you finish them in 3-5 minutes and the container? Goes into the bin…. Out of sight, out of mind…
- Find more tips here: 12 Tips to reduce plastic in your daily life
3) Eat less meat and dairy products.
- The mass meat/dairy industry is awful!! Causing a lot of stress for animals, and a lot of problems for the environment too (carbon emissions,etc.).
- Try to buy organic and local.
- Eat less! Maybe start with having a meat less Monday every week, or even one vegetarian week a month.
- Take the bike or walk anytime possible.
- Use the car just if you can’t avoid it. If you don’t need a car in the daily life use shared cars like car2go or drive now.
- Take the train or the bus if possible.
- Fly less, And if you need to fly, pay carbon offset. Try to avoid short flights and chose the direct flight without any stops, or if you can, plan a longer vacation if you need to fly. I know flying will not get less in the future, and the travel industry will grow quicker and quicker in the next years. But we can all try to fly less, take the train/bus if possible, etc. And try to reduce the travel footprint by using reef safe sunscreen, travel plastic reduced, refuse single use plastic bottles, etc..
5) Make eco friendly and fair choices.
- Free yourself from “the quick and cheap industrial consumption claws”!
- Try to buy as local, eco friendly and fair as you can.
- Local fruits and veggies.
- Organic fruits and veggies.
- Fair produced clothes.
- Buy second hand. We already have so many products out there, unused, still functional, and cheaper than new.
- Chose clothes made of 100% cotton (organic is the best choice) or other natural materials. If you look at the material you will notice most fashion is made of plastic these days! They shed micro fibers when you wash them and pollute our water.
6) Reuse what you get/have.
- Reuse old newspaper to line your bin. Or to wrap a gift.
- Reuse glasses for food, for your coffee or shake to go, for your bulk shopping flour, nuts etc. For self made soap, toothpaste etc.
- Make napkins or bags out of old shirts and bedding.
- Single use os man and corporation made. If you “need” to buy something in plastic, try to reuse it. If it’s a veggies plastic bag, reuse it as a trash bag. If it is a peanut butter plastic jar, reuse it for pins or bulk salt, etc… Mostly we do have the choice if we use something once or twice. When visiting Warzawa I accidentally got a cake in a relatively sturdy but single use plastic box… I was so annoyed, but I just washed it and reused it a couple times for other cake.
7) Save energy and water.
- Plug out your TV or just turn if off properly. Don’t use stand by.
- If it is light enough, switch off your lights. And use energy saving bulbs.
- Buy an energy saving washing machine, fridge, etc.
- Don’t shower for too long. If you have the space in your shower, catch water in a bucket while you shower and use it to water your plants.
- Wash your clothing less. Don’t wash your clothes after just one use, a spot on your blouse? Try spot cleaning first 😉
- If you can, air dry instead of machine dry your clothes.
8) Change the energy company.
- Green is the new black 😉 Go green with your energy too. Its not that hard to make these changes. Mostly the new company is helping you with the change. You just need to cancel the contract with your old company and sign with the new one. The rest does the new company. But make sure to get enough information. A few companies advertise with green energy, but its only a 50% or so.
- If you have a house, maybe look into solar panels for your home.
9) Make your own.
- Bake your own bread, make your own hummus. Make cheese out of yoghurt (if the yoghurt comes in a glass jar of corse ;).
- Make your own sweet snacks. There are recipes out there from Bounty bars to date bars…
- Make your own lotion, toothpaste or non toxic cleaning products (eg baking soda and vinegar or lemon juice, are the most used and best solutions for cleaning.).
- There is so much you can make yourself, and mostly its much cheaper and definitely more healthy if you do so.
10) Cook fresh.
- Most of the ready made food in the supermarkets are really bad for us. Have you looked at the ingredients once? If the list is loooong and there are a lot of words you don’t know and can’t even spell right, try to avoid them… In many of them you will find a lot of bad fats, a lot of sugar and E´s. Cheap pam oil (rainforests are getting burnt down for that, and animals living in these forests too).
- While cooking fresh, you know whats in your food, your using less plastic wraps, and you are learning to taste the real taste of foods.
11) Stop using paper towels for everything.
- Paper is made of trees. So why use paper for single use when we can use reusables.
- Buy some simple reusable cloths made of 100% organic cotton, or hemp. Easy to use, easy to clean, saves you money too because they are reusable.
12) Recycling/Waste management
- To reduce trash that goes to landfill, we must know what can get easily recycled.
- Get information about the waste management in your city. It is different everywhere.
- If you know what can get recycled or where you can bring some products to get them properly recycled, you can make the best out of it.
- If your city don’t provide a compost bin, maybe you have a garden and the chance to make your own, maybe try a kitchen compost, or contact garden centers, neighbors, communal gardens if they have a compost you could use too. (Nothing degrades on landfill because of a lack of light, oxygen, temperature, so no, not even food scraps will “compost” if they go to landfill)
13) If you want to take one more step: make your own garden.
- You can plant your own veggies, herbs and flowers for bees (they sadly need our help).
- If you are living in a house with a garden, perfect and easy just get started 😉
- You have a balcony only? Herbs, tomatoes, salad, etc are easy to grow in places with tiny space.
- If you don’t have a garden, ask around. Sometimes farmers or communal gardens are renting small gardens to people from the area.
- Or maybe some friends have a big garden and would like to share the space.
Don’t try to change everything on one day. Its a journey. Start with the easiest change for you, and then follow the path from there.
For some it will be reducing animal products, for others it is easier to quit flying or to buy only fair fashion.
Don’t get encouraged if you cant’t buy the fanciest zero waste essential. You don’t need it…
Have fun, you will see how easy it will get after a few weeks and how much fun it is to make your own things.
And if you fail once in a while, maybe because you get sick and can’t stick to some changes, or you are having other troubles, that’s not a big deal.
Don’t let yourself down on this and stop to make these changes! Just get back on track if you feel better.
Keep smiling and make some happy choices.