We all strive to live more sustainable, but how do you actually achieve a sustainable lifestyle?
While it’s one thing to point to the big CO2 emission contributors that we all know about, it’s quite a different thing to actually make a sustainable living for yourself and your family.
In this article, we present ten sustainable living ideas, ranging from the high-flying to the down to earth things that you can do every day. It’s never too late to start living in a more sustainable way, but there is no reason to wait. If we all pull together right now we will, at some point in the future, ask ourselves what the big problem really was.
Produce less waste
It’s one of those things that is so easy to say but still very hard to actually do. But reducing waste is not that difficult. You can start right now and just make sure to think about it in whatever you do.
What constitutes waste, of course, varies with what you do. The most obvious is the waste that you throw in your garbage can, but it can also be more subtle things, such as energy spent in a wasteful way, for no good at all.
As far as reducing waste is concerned you can be as ambitious as you like. You can just do it more or less unconsciously, or you can get really ambitious and keep track of your progress, setting goals as you go. No matter what method you choose it will work. Just thinking about waste reduction will make you reduce waste. It’s a very good start!
Adapt your eating habits to where you live
Our eating habits have changed substantially with globalisation and the steep decline in transportation costs.
Just a few decades ago we were pretty much restricted to food that could be locally produced or else transported deep frozen or canned to where we lived. Nowadays you can buy any food product, no matter the time of year, thanks to cheap transportation.
You can eat beef from Argentina every day, or asparagus flown in from Peru in the middle of winter. Of course, this is not very sustainable, so we suggest you skip those and eat what food can be produced locally. You’ll have to adjust your cooking habits accordingly, but it’s not that difficult once you get into it.
Get quality items, Buy Once – Cry Once
If you’re into sustainable living buying more things shouldn’t really be high on your agenda, but sometimes it will be necessary to buy something, be it a new phone or a sofa.
The next time you make a buying decision for something, small or large, think through if it is really something you need, and if it is, be sure to get the best quality item that you can afford.
Then use it and repair it for as long as it is at all possible, before having it replaced.
Live in the city
Cities are ugly, dirty and polluted, with polluted areas and no wildlife! Yes, some cities are like that, especially those built around cars, but that is far from the full picture.
Many cities are in fact the complete opposite, with beautiful architecture, lots of green spaces and clean air. Their secret? Efficient mass transportation systems, made possible by high population density and a sprawling local economy.
It is tempting to think that life on a farm in the countryside is the right choice, but for sustainable living, you should pick a city of your liking and live there.
Start a compost
“I live in an apartment, in the city. I can’t start a compost.” Yes, you can!
Even if you live in a one-room apartment with no balcony, or other outdoor space of your own, you can have your own, small-scale compost.
Naturally, you’ll have to adapt to the space available and you may not be able to compost everything, but even the small things count.
Travel less – Get together online
Take a break closer to home, for a change and explore your own country during your next vacation. You may discover something new.
If you travel at work, to meetings and conferences, consider the option of not going. Perhaps you can meet online instead. Even if you can only skip half of your travels it’s still a huge contribution towards sustainable living.
Don’t buy an electric car!
Wait! What? Yes, exactly!
Granted, it could very well be that you have to have a car, and in that case, an electric car could mean a huge contribution to achieving a sustainable living, but not getting a car at all could be even better.
There are many options, such as public transportation and carpools that you could use, and why not get some free exercise by getting a bicycle?
A natural component of sustainable living is water conservation. It is something you can do every day and that will have a great effect if we all do it. You don’t have to exclude anything. Read our list, 10 ways to conserve water
for more ideas.
Taking shorter showers will get you a long way and when you start thinking about it there are many situations where you can just cut back on consumption.
Grow a Garden
Depending on where and how you live this will mean very different things, but growing plants – any plants – is a great tool for sustainable living. If you have the opportunity, try growing your own food.
Nothing will taste better than food from your own garden.
Calculate your carbon footprint
It can be difficult to assess how much you contribute to overall sustainable living, but there are great tools, available for free, that will help you.
Use a Carbon Footprint Calculator to get a number on where you are today and then make new calculations in the future, after that you’ve made changes towards more sustainable living, and you will get a number on your progress.