14 Ways to Live More Sustainably
14 quick and easy ways to live more sustainably in everyday life that won’t cost you anything. In fact some of them might even save you some money and the best thing is you can start doing most of them today!
My partner and I have been trying to live more sustainably since around 2017. I can’t remember the exact date but we went travelling for a year and the state of how we are all living really hit home. We knew we needed to make some changes, so we did. Now we live by the following basics that I’m going to share with you.
Stop Buying Stuff
Before buying anything ask yourself some questions. a. Do I actually need it? b. If yes, can I get it second hand? c. If not, can I make it myself? d. If not, is the company I am buying from ethical and sustainable. We’ve grown up in a materialistic and throw away culture. We don’t need all the stuff that we’ve been told we need. Really analyse your purchases before making them.
Use What You Have
Part of living more sustainably is to really value the things you already have and not waste them. If you already have plastic food containers, continue to use them until they are no longer useable. You don’t need to go out and buy all glass containers so that your home appears zero waste. Sometimes zero waste isn’t pretty and perfect and that is fine.
Accept the Imperfect
Following on from the point above, we’ve been accustomed to thinking that everything needs to be new, clean and perfect without marks. This encourages waste in all aspects of life, in food, in clothing, in homewares, anything. Buy the wonky veg, keep your chipped plates, save the shirt that has a small mark on it.
Look After What You Have
Things break, chip and end up with holes and stains but that’s ok because we are able to fix them. We have the tools and the ability to mend things to make them last longer. If your plates are chipped fix them, if your shirt has a stain on it, dye it another colour, add a patch or embroider something onto it. I’ve really come to love visible mending and everything it stands for.
Pass Things On
If you really don’t want something anymore give it away to someone who does. I used to think the next best option was to recycle but I no longer believe that is true. It all depends on where you live and how your recycling is dealt with but that’s a whole other blog post :) Before sending something to the recycling, post it in your local “buy nothing” group or give it to a friend. There is always someone who needs what you don’t want.
Choose Home Cooking
Choose to cook at home rather than eat out or get takeaway. I know this isn’t always possible, just do what you can. Home cooking means we can cook the exact amount that we want or cook in batches to save more time and energy. It means less plastic waste and as a bonus it mean healthier food. We cook at home 99% of the time and I started making my own bread, crackers and biscuits to save on all the plastic that those items come in.
Start a Compost Heap
Something I found out recently is that food waste is a bigger problem than plastic waste! The amount of food that is thrown away is unbelievable. By cooking at home and trying to use what we have in the fridge I feel that we very rarely throw food away. However, there are some items the odd fruit or veg that doesn’t make it which we put into a compost heap.
I was also surprised to find out that compost heaps still count towards food waste numbers however, I feel that this is the lesser of the two evils. The food will eventually degrade and return to the soil in our garden. If you cannot have your own compost, check out the Share Waste website to see if you can share your compost with someone local who has a heap.
Be Careful With Water
I didn’t realise how much water we used to waste until I started saving it. We now make sure we turn off the taps when were not using them (during washing up and when brushing our teeth we only turn it on to rinse quickly), save the cold water from the shower to flush the toilet, reuse the water we use for boiling veg to boil more veg and loads more. Another blog post is coming about this too. :)
Turn Off Your Electrics
We’ve been doing this even before trying to live sustainably just because it reduces our electricity bills, it just makes sense. When the TV is off, we make sure it’s actually off and not on stand by. Those tiny red lights need electricity. If we’re not charging phones or laptops we turn the plugs off. If the oven isn’t in use, turn it off from the plug, the clock also needs power. Turn everything off at night including the wifi and so on. Really take note of what is in use in your home and adjust.
Buy Local / Support Your Local Community
If you can, make an effort to support the local shops in your community. Buy veg from your local veg market, support the mini market down the road, support the handmade businesses around you. This often means that you will travel less, the items you buy travel less and your money is going towards supporting a family rather than big businesses.
Get Involved with Community Projects
Find out about any local clean ups, tree plantings and swaps in your area and join in. The more we support these kind of events in our communities the better the world will be.
Reduce Meat Consumption
It takes “100 times as much land to produce a kilocalorie of beef or lamb versus plant-based alternatives” - Our World In Data. We don’t all need to be vegan but if we reduce the amount of meat we eat we will all be helping to heal the earths soils and allow more plants to grow which in turn will help the environment. This benefits everyone. Us, animals and the earth. Read more about land use for different diets in this article.
Everything mentioned above is based on this. The underlining idea of living sustainably is to be mindful of how we are living. Really taking note of the impact we are having on our environment and on others and seeing if we can change it for the better.
Finally, Don’t Stress
If you can’t do any of these things, don’t worry. All we can do is our best. Feeling guilty about any of these points or any other zero waste goals is not helpful. Just be happy in the knowledge that what we do is enough.