From budgetary concerns to dietary restrictions, there are many barriers to adopting sustainable practices at home. One thing that shouldn’t get in the way of your sustainable living goals is an all-or-nothing mentality. Much like any lifestyle change, be it weight loss or healthy eating, making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lifelong journey that will constantly challenge you to change your habits and ways of thinking. To that end, here are several small, easy, and affordable lifestyle changes you can make that can lead to a healthier, happier planet.
Shop with reusable bags
Ditching single-use bags for reusable bags is one of the easiest ways to help the planet. In truth, the hard part is remembering to bring your reusable bags to the store with you. To ensure that you don’t get caught without one, try to find a reusable bag that can be packed down to fit in your pocket or purse. Alternatively, you could keep a set of reusable bags in your vehicle for those post-work trips to the grocery store.
Brew your coffee at home
Volunteer for a beach or highway cleanup in your area and you’ll likely find plenty of disposable coffee cups. Why not skip the coffee shops and cafes and brew your coffee instead? Not only will you eliminate the need for a wasteful, plastic-lined cup, but you could also save thousands of dollars a year!
Switch to solid bars
Did you know that you can divert two to three plastic bottles from a landfill by switching to a shampoo bar? And you don’t have to stop at shampoo, either. Make the switch to long-lasting conditioner bars, body soap bars, and facial bars, and you can eliminate plastic bottles from your shower routine altogether. Your reward for going plastic-free? A happier planet, a healthier head of hair, and a heavier wallet from all that cash you’re going to save.
Go meatless for one day each week
Meat is a giant contributor to global warming, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all greenhouse gases. It’s one of the reasons why veganism has exploded in recent years. But don’t worry! You don’t have to give up all meat to make a positive impact. Instead, try reducing your meat consumption by embracing Meatless Monday.
Already practicing Meatless Monday? Take things to the next level by going meatless two (or even three) days a week.
Take shorter showers
Reducing your shower time not only saves precious water and energy but can also save you money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average shower lasts about eight minutes and uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute. That means if you shorten your shower time by just two minutes, you could save more than four gallons of water every time!
Try setting an alarm on your phone to alert you when you’ve been in the shower for too long. You can also create a shower playlist to reduce your shower time.
Who doesn’t enjoy scouring flea markets and thrift stores for one-of-a-kind finds? Beyond saving you money, shopping secondhand keeps perfectly good items out of landfills. So, the next time you find yourself in need of kitchen linens or stainless steel mixing bowls, stop by your local thrift store.
Got a passion for fashion? Check out online consignment shops such as thredUP, Poshmark, and The RealReal.
Grow your herbs
Growing your food is a great way to avoid harmful pesticides and excess packaging waste. However, we also know that not everyone has the time or the space for a large garden. In that case, consider growing your herbs instead. Beyond saving money, growing your herbs is super convenient. When your dish calls for basil or parsley, you can skip the dried stuff and use the deliciously fresh herbs you have on hand instead.
Turn off unnecessary lights
Lots of people are guilty of this one, and their electric bill shows it. Turning off unnecessary lights helps save energy, which is key to conserving the planet’s natural resources and not putting undue stress on our aging electric grid. If you’re forgetful, try putting an unusual object in front of the door. You may be confused at first, but then you’ll remember that the object is a reminder to turn off the lights!
Wash your clothes in cold water
Washing your clothes in hot water requires more energy and may cause certain types of clothes to shrink or fade. Make laundry more sustainable and clothing-friendly by washing your clothes in cold water. Contrary to popular belief, cold water can remove any stubborn stains from clothes, including grass stains and makeup smudges.
Buy snacks and dry goods from the bulk bins
Have you ever noticed how almost everything you buy at the grocery store comes in some sort of plastic packaging? Create less plastic waste on your next grocery run by shopping the bulk bins. Products such as cereal, oils, nuts, and even crackers can be found in bulk at many grocery stores. If you don’t have easy access to bulk bins, shop at the farmer’s market or look for products that are housed in plastic-free containers, such as glass jars or cardboard boxes.
Use fewer herbicides and pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides might make your yard look beautiful, but it comes at a steep cost. Many of the toxic compounds found in herbicides and pesticides are slow to degrade, which means they build up in the soil and may harm wildlife and humans. Use natural acids such as vinegar and citrus to keep your yard weed-free or skip them altogether and embrace the idea of an imperfect lawn.
See? Making lifestyle changes for the planet doesn’t need to be daunting. By taking the small steps above, you can develop sustainable habits that make a big impact on the planet.