These days most of us are aware of and conscious of the environment and our impact upon it. In this post we’ll be looking at some simple tips for sustainable living and how we can play our part every day in ensuring a long and healthy future for our planet.
Turning Off the Lights Is Such a Simple Thing
It can be so easy going from room to room in the home, turning on the lights and just leaving them on when they’re not even being used. It’s really just a habit, but a habit that can be reversed so you get used to simply switching off the light when exiting an empty room.
I mean, turning a light off takes no effort at all. It’s really just about being conscious of doing it and realising that lights aren’t necessary if no one’s in the room.
It’s different for lights that are left on for security reasons, such as outdoor lighting, but if no one is in the bedroom, why leave the light on in there?
Keeping lights to a minimum doesn’t just help burn through less energy and fossil fuels. You’ll also lower your electricity bill in the process, and that’s always a good thing.
Also, upgrade your lights or light bulbs to energy efficient globes, or even fluorescent lighting. These options will consume a lot less electricity. Having smart lighting installed is a good idea too, as it can be programmed to turn lights off at a certain time, and with motion sensors, will even automatically switch off lights when a room has been unoccupied for a period of time.
With a smart home you can adapt this energy saving to many devices inside and outside the house.
Reduce Your Paper Consumption
In the modern world we can receive most, if not all of our bills and correspondence via email. We don’t even really need to print out bills if we’re paying them electronically.
Banks and the majority of businesses will send you bills and mail electronically if you request it. Think about that on a world scale, if everyone was receiving most of their mail in email format rather that paper and envelopes.
That’s a mass saving on paper, and a huge boost to our forests in the process.
It sounds like such a small gesture on an individual level, but it’s actually massive on a global scale.
Real paper will always be here, and it’s necessary for other purposes, but not so necessary for receiving letters and bills anymore.
And what about all that junk mail that comes in your letterbox? Sure, some of it is fun to look through, but think about getting in touch with the companies that send it to you and ask if they can email you electronic versions of their flyers and brochures instead of all that paper.
Buy Groceries Items In Bulk If You Can
This will likely depend on how much fridge and food storage space you have – space that is likely at a premium if you’re living in a downsized home, for example – but if you do have the space, try buying some items in bulk.
Not only will this tactic likely save you some money overall, you’ll also be contributing less waste into the environment because less packaging is used when you buy in bulk.
When everything is purchased in small quantities, the amount of packing used generally ends up being more than buying one bigger item. Of course, not everything is available in bulk, but if it is, then it’s one great option you can take to help reduce waste, particularly if it’s plastic waste.
Naturally biodegradable packaging is not a problem, but plastic, foam, tin cans and so on are.
Also, see if the grocer has the option of packing your grocery items into paper bags or biodegradable plastic shopping bags. These plastic bags are a thing these days, and more and more stores are opting to use them.
Another alternative is to bring your own reusable shopping bags made from cloth. Every little bit helps.
Electricity generated by the burning of fossil fuels is one of the major contributors to harming the environment, including that all important ozone layer that protects our planet.
Depending on where you live and in what type of home, you may not have the option of going solar. This could be the case if you’re living in a high rise apartment, for example. If you have your own home, even a tiny home, then there is usually the option to have solar electricity installed.
Yes, it’s a monetary investment to begin with, but likely all that money you spend on getting solar installed in your home will be returned and then some as you save on electricity bills.
It’s actually a good feeling to feel somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to your power supply. It’s definitely worth serious consideration, and many governments offer rebates on solar systems. Just check your local government website to see what’s currently available in your area.
If You’re Not Using It, Turn It Off
This is just like the house lights. If no one is watching the TV, using the fan, an empty room is being cooled by the air conditioner and no one is listening to that stereo, then turn off these appliances.
Even unplugging certain appliances when not in use can save a little bit of power. Every item, such as TVs, that go into standby mode will still consume small amounts of electricity that really add up over the course of a year.
Why waste electricity and money if you don’t have to? It’s just a matter of getting into the habit of switching things off and/or unplugging them when they’re not in use. It’s very simple, really.
Reduce Your Shower Time
Taking shorter showers actually achieves three positive results:
- Less water is being used
- You save money on your hot water bill
- Less power is being consumed
In the colder months of the year we all naturally have hotter showers. It’s also a tendency to linger in the shower longer because that warm water feels oh so good. We know that once we turn the water off we’ll be stepping out into a cold bathroom, so it’s hard to resist the temptation to hang out in the shower a few minutes more.
People can even be guilty of long showers in summer. Often the reverse is true, where that constant jet of cool water is a welcome relief after a long, hot summer’s day.
A better option might be to have a bath instead of a shower, if you have a bathtub. Whether it’s summer or winter, likely you can linger for longer and use less water.
With showers, try using some sort of timer and limiting shower time to 3, 4 or 5 minutes, depending on what you need to do in there. Having a timer go off is a good reminder that it’s time to turn that water off and get out.
How About Collecting Rainwater?
This can be done in the form of a rainwater tank, or even manually by placing receptacles and buckets out in the rain. You don’t have to drink the water, but it can be used for flushing toilets, topping up the swimming pool, mopping the floors, laundry and so on.
You can even save this rainwater for watering your gardens, indoor plants and your lawn, washing the car, washing the dog, the list goes on.
It’s a great idea and something fun to get the kids doing on a wet day.
Do You Need To Do Laundry That Often?
If clothing, sheets and towels really need to be washed, then it’s definitely time to wash them, but what about that shirt that was only worn for an hour, indoors, in a cool environment? Does that shirt really need to be tossed into the laundry basket just yet? Couldn’t it be worn at least one more time before finding itself swirling around inside the washing machine?
With modern conveniences like automatic washers and dryers, it can be all too easy to just toss things in the washing when they don’t even really need it.
Saving on laundry time means less time mucking about doing the laundry, less water being consumed, as well as less power being burnt up. It’s also less wear and tear on your clothing and linen, meaning they’ll last longer.
Recycle In Any Manner You Can Think Of
Likely you’ll have some form of recycling in your neighbourhood when it comes to garbage collection. Possibly a bin for regular trash and another for items that are recyclable; such as paper, cardboard, plastics and glass.
Other ways you could help with recycling is by purchasing products made from recycled materials. Or, if you’re planning to build something or do some renovating or repair work around the home or business, can any recycled materials be used to complete the project?
And rather than dump unwanted household items, can they be sold, given away to someone who needs them, or be donated to a charity or thrift store?
Walk Or Bike Instead of Taking Motorised Transport
If you’re just going down to the corner store to buy some milk and bread, do you really need to take the car?
If the beach is only fifteen minutes away on foot, couldn’t you walk their instead of driving, calling a taxi or taking the bus or train?
Not only does walking or riding a bike help save the planet and add to your overall sustainable living, you’re doing something good for your health in the process – Exercise?
Along with some physical activity, you’ll get a bit more fresh air, clear your head, reduce your stress levels and get to see more of your surrounds in the process.
There’s no way walking or biking can be a bad thing is the weather is favourable, and you’ll be feeling good on a number of levels.
Buy Second Hand Instead of New
This could be a car, a bike for the kids, that guitar you’ve always wanted. Just about any material possession will be available second hand as well as new.
Of course it’s awesome having something that’s brand new and no one else has used before, but is it really necessary in every instance?
Often you can purchase something used that’s in pristine condition, but sells for way cheaper than its brand new counterpart.
Also, when you buy second hand, if you look after the item, if and when you go to sell it again, there’s a good chance you could get as much back as you originally paid for it.
When people buy second hand, less new products have to be made, and that helps our planet.
Read eBooks Instead of Print Books
Many of us like the feel of a real book in our hands, but it’s what’s contained inside its pages that really matters. eBooks (electronic books) have all the same words inside as the hard copy books do.
It’s cheaper to buy eBooks as compared to books that have to be printed, and all you need is a device to read them on your smartphone, tablet or computer. You can get apps for free for every single format of eBook.
At night you don’t even need a light to read them by, because the screen is lit and no light is necessary.
This helps our environment buy using way less paper, ink, and transportation to ship those hard copy books all around the world. eBooks are much more convenient to read when you’re used to them, and you can store all your favourite books on the one device, saving you even needing a bookcase (less wood chopped down and less manufacturing).
Reuse Things As Much As You Can
This could be having your own coffee mug at work instead of using the disposable cups in the coffee machine, those shopping bags I mentioned earlier, lending and borrowing items for temporary use instead of buying them.
Just simple things like this can all help. We just need to think about what we waste and what can be reused.
Grow Your Own Vegetables
It’s fun growing your own vegetables, if you have the land and space to do it. Some vegetables, or herbs and spices, can even be grown in pots if space is limited.
Having a sustainable vegie patch is like the ultimate. Compared to what you often buy in supermarkets, the taste of your own fresh vegetables is incomparable.
It’s great for the environment as you’re not purchasing anything that’s been processed or put into packaging either, and you’ll enjoy that sensation of extreme satisfaction having grown and harvested them yourself.
Get the kids involved. Teach them about gardening, sustainable living and the environment early.
Bottled Water Can Be Avoided
Unless you’re living in a third world country where it’s seriously not advisable to consume the town water, then buying bottled water isn’t really necessary.
At home you can install water filters to remove minerals and other substances from town water. If you’re out and about, you could take your own water with you, in the form of a reusable water bottle, or you could stop off at a store or cafe that serves drinks in reusable cups or glasses, rather than once-off throwaway bottles.
Empty plastic water bottles are one of the world’s single biggest environmental threats of the modern age, with all these designer “health” waters on the market. It’s become more trendy to drink bottled water than it is an actual health benefit.
Enjoy More Outdoor Time
The more time you spend outdoors on foot or on a bicycle, the less time you’re spending at home consuming resources.
You’ll also be getting some fresh air and exercise, as was mentioned earlier.
Refuse To Use Disposable, Plastic Cutlery
Whenever you buy takeaway from a fast food outlet, or even some restaurants, your package will often include disposable plastic knives, forks and spoons.
Carry a metal set with you in your car and refuse the plastic cutlery when you buy takeout, or plan to eat the meal at home anyway.
You might not always be able to do this, but do it when you can and less plastic will invariably end up in landfill or in the oceans and waterways.
If you get more consciously involved in your local community, you’ll often discover various tree planting programs that you can take part in.
Not only do trees naturally green up the planet, they also absorb carbon dioxide and turn it back into life giving oxygen.
It’s a positive experience to get outdoors and plant some trees. You can even keep tabs on the trees you personally plant and watch their progress. That’s satisfying in itself, seeing your tree grow and grow before your very eyes.
Many of the tips on this list might just seem like little things, but they all add up. Sometimes we neglect to do them just simply because we don’t think about it. We operate on autopilot much of the time, and in order to live more sustainably, it takes conscious thought and effort to change our habits.
The good news is, just about everything on this list doesn’t take much time or energy, and it’s simply a matter of forming new and positive habits.
Let’s all do our bit to help save the planet and we’ll soon see that collectively it makes a huge impact.