Perhaps, you don’t think about sustainability when brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. But, by changing a few habits and learning more about how your daily habits affect our planet, you can make small changes that have a big impact on the environment.
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In the meantime, here are eight ways to live more sustainably:
- Try To Eat Less Meat
The first thing to do is to try to eat less meat. Meat production is one of the largest contributors to climate change, so it makes sense from both a health and environmental standpoint to limit your intake of meat products. Plus, eating less meat can save you money.
The good news is that plenty of plant-based alternatives are available now in most grocery stores that taste just as good as their animal counterparts but cost less and don’t contribute negatively to the environment. If you want to use up all your leftover chicken before buying more at the store, or if your favorite recipe calls for ground beef instead of tofu or tempeh, try freezing it, so there’s no waste when cooking with frozen ingredients later on down the line.
- Ditch The Straws
The average American uses 500 straws each year. That’s an alarming number and one that highlights the need for people to think more critically about how they live their lives.
But while we’re on the subject of plastic straws, it’s worth noting that a large percentage of those 500 or so straws don’t end up being recycled. The numbers vary from study to study and country to country, but between 5% and 20% of all plastic waste is recycled—with most studies putting the figure somewhere around 10%.
Plastic straws are also made from petroleum products, and as we all know, there aren’t many places left on Earth where you can find oil wells pumping out crude for free. In fact, according to recent data published by The Guardian newspaper, only 7% of all plastic ever created has been recycled.
- Unplug And Save Energy
Unplugging your devices is the easiest way to reduce energy use. Unplugging a TV, computer, or phone charger when not in use will save you money on your electric bill and help protect the environment by keeping toxic materials out of landfills.
If you have old appliances that are no longer useful, consider donating them to charities like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity instead of throwing them away. Not only will they be put to good use, but they won’t end up sitting around in a landfill, polluting our air and water resources for hundreds of years.
An energy-efficient appliance can help you save money on your monthly utility bills while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants across the country. When shopping for new appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers, look at their Energy Star rating; it’s an easy way to know which ones are helping keep our planet green.
- Cut Down On Food Waste
Food waste is a huge problem. You can do your part by ensuring you only buy what you need, use up leftovers or share them with friends and family before they go bad, compost as much of your organic waste as possible, and buy foods that are less likely to go bad first.
Some go so far as to ensure all the water used is repurposed. It is possible to create water filtration systems in your home. All the water used to wash dishes and clothes can be reused in the garden.
- Take Shorter Showers
Showers are a great way to reduce the amount of water used, but you may be surprised to learn that showering in cold water can be good for your skin. A Mayo Clinic study found that taking shorter showers (less than three minutes) can reduce drying effects on the skin and even improve blood circulation. Shorter showers also mean lower energy bills, as less energy is required to heat the water.
That’s not all: if you’re looking for an environmentally-friendly habit or alternative method of practicing minimalism, consider taking cold showers. According to author David Gershon (The Water Prescription), cold showers have many health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and boosting immune system function. The bonus here is that they also allow people who are unable to pay their utility bills some relief while helping them stretch their money longer between paychecks or jobs.
- Use Reusable Containers
One of the best ways to reduce waste is to use reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Many stores now carry glass or plastic food storage containers that can be reused hundreds of times and are even dishwasher safe. You can also purchase stainless steel lunch boxes, which you can take to school or work. You don’t need many of these items; just pick up enough for your family’s needs and keep them clean.
Ideally, all food should be stored in glass jars rather than plastic bags or containers because it’s better for the environment and safer for your family’s health. But if you’re not ready (or don’t have room) for an entire kitchen full of jars, there are still plenty of other options.
- Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
No matter how small the change you make, it’s still a change in the right direction. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your carbon footprint but don’t know where to start, here are some ideas:
- Buy local when possible. Buying locally grown foods reduces emissions from transportation and packaging materials, and supports local farmers and businesses.
- Eat less meat. Meat production requires an enormous amount of energy and water; by eating less meat or going vegetarian, you can also cut down on unnecessary resource use and save money.
- Use Eco-Friendly Products
Find out if the products you use are biodegradable. If they aren’t, see if there is a recyclable alternative available.
Recycling is one of the simplest ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s so easy that it feels like cheating! To get started, you’ll need to invest in some recycling bins or bags and make sure they’re easily accessible when the time comes. You can buy them at most home goods stores or grocery stores (they’re usually near the bins for plastic bags). The next step is ensuring that everyone in your household knows where everything goes; you may want to print out a list on an old sheet of paper and tape it to the wall by your recycling bin(s).
The more you know about the impact of your actions, the more likely you are to make sustainable choices. That’s why it’s important to research products before buying them and think about how you can reduce waste in your daily life. You might be surprised at how easy some of these changes are.