How to Live Sustainably at Home
Chances are you’re here because you want to learn about how to live more sustainably in your own home. You’ve been reading and learning more about our impact on the environment and on the precious wildlife that we share this earth with and you want to do something to help. This is great! I’m so glad you’re here and that my years of living this way will be helpful to you.
Why Should We Change Our Ways?
Let’s begin with the why. Why should we bother to change what we’re doing? This argument is discussed quite a bit in the sustainability circles that I am active in. What’s the point if big corporations are churning out massive amounts of plastic and damaging the environment without a single care?
Please don’t let this argument dissuade you from trying. There are good reasons to make the effort to live sustainably at home.
As consumers, we have all the power!
By changing what we’re doing, how we’re living and in turn, what we are buying, we’re telling those big companies what we want and don’t want. And without our money, they’re nothing!
“We don’t need a handful of people doing sustainability perfectly but millions of people doing it imperfectly”.
I’m sure you’ve already seen or heard this or something similar before but it’s exactly right. If we’re all doing what we can then this leads onto point one and hopefully positive changes. We don’t need to all be 100% zero waste. In fact it’s impossible in my opinion.
What Are the Benefits of Living Sustainably
Aside from helping the environment and the wildlife, what benefits are there to us for living a more sustainable lifestyle? Here are five great reasons that I’ve found to continue this way of living.
Live a Healthier Life
By aiming to live more sustainably at home, we end up naturally living a healthier life. As we become more conscious of our actions and how they impact our environment and the world, we develop a set of routines that benefit our personal health.
We Have a Deeper Connection to Nature
The awareness that living sustainably brings means that we realise just how important nature is to our wellbeing and everyone and everything on this earth. We respect it more and strive to protect it as much as we can.
Develop a Greater Respect For What We Have
We realise just how grateful we are for what we have and enjoy looking after them. Mending, salvaging and respecting how our material possessions came to be becomes second nature.
We Spend Less Money
By realising that what we have and use is valuable, needs to be respected and its manufacture has an environmental impact, we choose to spend less, both on material things as well as energy. Bonus!
We Naturally Declutter Our Homes
We all have too much stuff :) and somehow, choosing to live more sustainably, in turn, makes us realise this. We choose to declutter and pass on what we’re not using to others who need it. I love doing this!
11 Ways to Live Sustainably At Home
Let’s get down to it! Here are 11 ways that we can all live a bit more sustainably at home and enjoy the benefits mentioned above that come with this kind of lifestyle. If you find that you cannot do some of these, don’t worry, just do what you can.
Cook at Home and Measure Your Portions
Food waste is a big problem. Food is wasted at every single part of the food chain. Head to this article by Food Print to read more about it. It is wasted at the growing/harvesting stages, processing, distribution, restaurants and at home! It will shock you to hear that, in the U.S., households are where the most food is wasted!
I believe that cooking at home is better than eating out or getting a takeaway because we have more control over what we do and have the potential to make things better.
Whenever you can, try to cook at home more and measure out your portions to only cook what you need. An extra bonus is that we know exactly what is going into our food and so we eat healthier.
Compost Your Food Scraps
Compost any food scraps you have from cooking. It still counts as food waste but this means it can go back into the earth in your own garden and not be added to landfill. If you are unable to compost in your home due to limited space then don’t worry, check out Share Waste to see if you can share your compost with someone local to you.
Look into ways to save as much water as you can. Usable, drinkable water is more scarce than we think and we don’t realise just how much we’re using until we start monitoring it. I’ve written a whole other blog post with some great tips on how to reduce water usage at home.
Did you know that most of the worlds electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels which creates air, water and thermal pollution? A great way to live more mindfully and sustainably is to really take note of where you can save energy in your home.
Have you left the tiny lights on on the TV? Is your oven showing a clock when it’s not needed? Turn them off if you’re not using them. You can make small changes like this to help reduce your usage and as a bonus your energy bill too! Here’s a more in depth article on ways to conserve energy at home.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Try to live by this mantra. Recycle should be the last on the list and not our first choice. As a generalisation, we all tend to recycle first because it’s easier but consider what happens to the recycling in your country. Where we live, nearly all of the recycling ends up in landfill.
Can you make reductions on packaging somewhere? Buy from your local zero waste shop or buy loose veg from the market instead? If not, then reuse what you can or pass it onto others who can use it. I recently gave away a full box of glass jars to someone who wanted to use them to make candles. Win win!
Make Your Own
If you can make something yourself then it is usually more sustainable than buying from a shop unless you are buying from a certified sustainable company or a local small business. If you can sew, then why not buy second hand fabric from charity shops or remnants of fabric to make your own clothes? Can you knit or crochet? Use up those old balls of yarn you have in the closet or seek out some sustainable yarn options to make your own zero waste items?
If not, don’t worry! There’s still time to learn. I have a how to crochet step by step guide over on the blog with quick video tutorials to help you get started. By the end, you will be able to try one of my free crochet patterns to make your own dishcloths, face scrubbies, coasters and more. Then in no time you will be making your own dish sponges, produce bags and soap savers. You can see all my sustainable crochet patterns here.
Eat Less Meat
Not only will this save you money but it will also save our precious earth and animals. The facts are that it takes “100 times as much land to produce a kilocalorie of beef or lamb versus plant-based alternatives” - Our World In Data.
I’m not saying we all need to become vegan over night but reducing the amount of meat we eat each week will really help to heal the earths soil and allow more plants to grow which in turn will help the environment. Everyone and everything will benefit from this small change.
Start by replacing one weekly meal with a vegetarian or vegan version and see how it goes. You can read more about the use of land for different diets in this article.
Grow Your Own Food and Eat With the Seasons
If you have a garden, put it to use. Set up some raised beds and start growing some of your favourite foods in an organic way like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn, aubergines, strawberries, blackberries etc. Before you begin however, be mindful of what foods grow well in your country/area and at what times of the year.
One benefit to this is that your food will taste so much better because it is growing in the correct environment. The second benefit is that we are putting less pressure on growers to produce massive amounts of food and at the wrong times of the year.
At the moment there is too much demand throughout the year for the supply to be sustainable. By eating seasonally, growers will use less energy to try to replicate the correct environment for the plants to grow. E.g. using more water to keep the soil most when the plant usually grows in a cooler, wetter climate.
Plant Wild Flowers
Continuing from point 7, if you have a garden, then instead of grass, consider planting wild flowers for the bees and other insects to enjoy coupled with clover to give the soil some nutrients. Instead of a standard hedge, plant a strong edible plant that can double as a hedge like rosemary. If you don’t have space, have planters of lavender, oregano, mint and sage for the bees and for yourself to enjoy in the kitchen.
Remember the Wildlife
Think about how you can help the wildlife around where you live. Do you have trees and birds around you? Consider having a bird bath for the summer and put out food for the birds in the winter when they might struggle.
What about hedgehogs, frogs, foxes, bats? Can you set up a pond in your garden to help them out and encourage them into your garden as natural pest controllers? Here’s a helpful article on how to set up a mini pond.
Take Care of What You Have
Take care of all of your possessions. Your clothes, your kitchen appliances, your tools, your books everything. Know that to make all these items a lot of time, money, energy and labour was spent. Be sure to make them last as long as you can. You will spend less money replacing things and less will end up in landfill and if we’re all doing this, then the pressure on producing more will become less.
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