An apartment in a city of 10 million was never how I envisioned my life. I was supposed to be living in a home in the country, with land, a dirt road and huge, sprawling garden. While I may not have my dream home (yet), or be living in my dream location (yet), I still can have my perfect green & sustainable life, and you can too! There are things everyone can do to bring more sustainbility into your life no matter what your living situation is, no matter where you are living. You don’t need to have an off the grid home in the woods to be sustainable! You can do it in your apartment, your suburban home or even your homestead. Check out these 10 ways you can bring sustainability into your life, no matter where you live right now.
Many places have mandatory recycling programs, if you are living in such an area then please participate in it! If not, you can still recycle on your own. You can reuse or upcycle items, turning them from trash into something useful or take it upon yourself to bring your recyclables to your nearest recycling center. Often recycling is free, or free if you bring a bag of trash. Find a recycling location near you with this handy tool.
#2 Reduce Utility Usage
There is no reason not to do this, unless of course you like paying more for your utilities! There are many ways you can save money on your utilities by reducing your consumption, easy ways you can do this are: switch to energy efficient light bulbs, use low flow water fixtures, reduce AC usage, lower your thermostat temperature in the winter, and raise it in the summer, use different thermostat settings for when you are not home, and seal drafty windows & doors.
#3 Reduce Consumption
Sometimes there are just things you need, but a lot of what people buy doesn’t fall into that category. Ask yourself this simple question when thinking of purchasing an item: Do I want it or do I need it? If you just want it, think hard about whether or not it’s a good purchase. Sometimes renting or borrowing an item may be the better option.
#4 Buy Local
Buying locally has many benefits, beyond sustainability. It’s a wonderful thing to support local businesses in your own community. It helps keep your community’s economy strong and keeps money in the community, instead of in the coffers of a multinational company! When it comes to sustainability however, it also keeps a lot more fossil fuels from being consumed in the transport of good.
#5 Buy Used
There are some things you are better off not buying used, but for many things buying used is a great way to save money and reduce the need for new things to be created. If you can’t borrow the item, getting it used is one of the most sustainable actions you can take. With so many avenues of finding great used things from thrift shops to online marketplaces buying used has never been easier.
#6 Let the Weeds Grow!
Do you have a lawn? If so let those weeds grow! Dandelions, a common lawn “pest” are actually very useful plants. Not only are they an early spring source of food for bees, but they also have edible greens and roots. The greens are wonderful in salads and the roots can be used for teas. Many “weeds” are actually incredibly useful plants that can enhance your life and your lawn as well as that of the local wildlife. So think twice before reaching for that weed killer!
#7 Support Local Agriculture
Go to the local farmer’s market, get a CSA box, go pick strawberries or apples at a local farm, or even go in on a whole cow. Buy local produce from your local farmers, it’s fresh, and often cheaper and higher quality than what you’d find at the store. Going directly to the source saves you money and ensures your food is fresh and didn’t have to travel around the world to get to you.
#8 Get Involved
One of the biggest things you can to do improve you sustainability is to get involved with local causes. This could mean volunteering to help clean up the riverside, or supporting local environmental legislation or calling for change in your local communities practices to make them more sustainable. Not enough electric car charging stations? Your school or workplace doesn’t compost? There’s an endangered species threatened by development? Get involved! Change happens when local people just like you and me stand up and ask for it. Don’t wait for someone else to do it, be the someone that takes charge and initiates change!
#9 Use Your Car Less
Walk or ride a bike, take public transportation, carpool: all of these are great options to help you use your car less. By using your vehicle less you use less fossil fuels, save on wear and tear on your vehicle and can even get in shape! There’s also value in planning your trips more efficiently. Try to do your errands all in one trip to prevent you having to drive more.
#10 Use Green Products
Common cleaning and personal care products can be filled with compounds that aren’t good for us or the environment. Fortunately, there are many companies our there who are devoted to helping you clean greenly, effectively and safely. As you use up your cleaning products or personal care products, try switching them out for a greener option that doesn’t have damaging pollutants or harmful chemicals.
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Protip: Check out some of my favorite green products from Seventh Generation, a certified B-Corp! Or get your favorite organic & natural brands at wholesale prices, sent right to your door from Thrive Market.
What steps are you taking to live a more sustainable life?