As I’ve written within the sustainability space for over 5 years now, I’ve collected many great ideas and tips on living a more eco-friendly life.
And each week without fail I get several questions from readers wanting my advice on living more sustainably; from the beauty products I use (or make) through to how I attempt to reduce plastic in my life.
So I decided to write down all that I know about living a sustainable life. The result is this list of over 101 tips to help you love more eco-friendly.
Some people will try to apply many of these things all at once while others will attempt to master each step one at a time. Remember that there is no right way or wrong way – each individual has their own unique sustainable journey.
I created this comprehensive list to remind you that there are everyday choices you can make that will help mitigate environmental impact. We do have the power to make a difference. Our individual choices together will help to create a way for a better more sustainable world.
I hope that you’ll find this list helpful in your journey to greener living.
The most important thing is to apply what you learn. Take action. Even if it’s just one or two items off the list, don’t just read this and then forget about it.
Remember we must BE the change we wish to see in the world.
So read this list, absorb the information and then go ahead and be the change.
1. Recycle everything you can including plastic, cardboard and paper, aluminium cans, bottles.
Here are some articles that will help if you get stuck:
- 8 Free Mobile Apps To Help You Recycle
- 16 Everyday Items That You Probably Didn’t Know You Could Recycle or Compost
- How to Recycle Properly: What You Should and Shouldn’t Be Putting In The Recycle Bin
- The 10 Types of Soft Plastics Most Commonly Recycled
2. Design your house or purchase a house that has factored passive cooling and heating. Read this post for more details.
3. Turn electrical items off at the power point as even when plugged in can still use energy.
5. Use cold water when washing dishes and clothes.
6. Use washable cloths instead of paper serviettes/napkins.
7. Purchase rechargeable batteries so you can reuse. It’s a little dearer but it’s more sustainable.
This one below offered by Energizer is rechargeable and made with 4% recycled batteries!
8. Make your own cleaning products using bicarbonate soda, vinegar, water. This post will explains how you can make your own cleaning products.
9. Prepare home cooked meals to avoid disposable takeaway plastic containers.
10. Save glass jars and reuse them. They make perfect containers, particularly for homemade jams and fermented foods.
11. When using the oven, plan to bake/cook several items at once. Baking just one item is a waste of gas/electricity.
12. Instead of buying books try to obtain the information online (hello Google knows everything lol!) or borrow from your local library.
13. Take shorter showers. Don’t leave water running unnecessarily. For example, when brushing your teeth.
14. Use ‘half’ flush when using the toilet to save water.
15. Invest in solar panels. Live off-the-grid if you can.
Here are some articles that may help you in your decision-making:
- A Solar Expert Provides Advice on Residential Off-Grid Solar Systems
- The Good Solar Guide Australia: Lower Your Energy Bills in 7 Steps
- Are Solar Panels A Middle-Class Purchase? This Survey Says Yes
16. Use reusable washable rags— not paper towels— when cleaning up spills.
17. Before purchasing new, seek out second-hand items first such as furniture, clothing etc. There are some great bargains on eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and ETSY if you are diligent enough to look.
18. Install a water-saving shower head.
19. In winter, avoid using the heater. Wear layers of clothing to keep you warm and throw on another blanket or doona cover on the bed when you sleep.
20. By putting a sticker on your mailbox that states ‘No Junk Mail’ you can avoid paper waste. You can go one step further and contact those companies to remove you off their list.
21. Contact your utilities provider and other companies and request bills be sent via email.
22. Unless you live in a warm climate where heating is a non-issue, design or buy a house with low ceilings to maintain warmth. Heat rises and the higher the ceilings the quicker warm air leaves.
23. Use LED lighting instead of incandescent lighting as it is proven to last longer which reduces the need to keep purchasing bulbs.
24. Use solar energy chargers for iPhones and iPads which are becoming increasingly available.
25. Avoid using the clothes dryer and just line dry them instead.
26. Save all gift bags, gift boxes, bows and ribbons so that you can reuse them.
27. Veto plastic bin liners and instead just wash the bin/s out once per week (if you’re composting food scraps there shouldn’t be much grimy rubbish anyway!)
28. Instead of throwing out your veggie scraps, save them for a compost pile. If you live in a tiny apartment a Bokashi composting system (pictured below) will make the ideal composter for you. If you live in an apartment building, encourage your neighbours to save their compost. Go one step further and invest in a communal compost bin so your neighbours have more incentive to save their food scraps.
29. Reduce your consumption by following the minimalist lifestyle so that you only have things in your life that you value and actually use rather than accumulating items that you don’t use which adds to waste. This e-book will help you on your journey to decluttering your wardrobe and making it sustainable.
30. Mend clothes and try to fix items instead of just throwing it out.
31. Repurpose items where possible. For example, an old shirt can be turned into a t-shirt.
32. Don’t wash clothes if you don’t need to. You can air-dry jeans between washes. Jeans can also be worn upwards of 10x or more without needing to be washed.
33. Don’t throw out materials and unwanted clothing. Donate it to charity, sell on eBay, have a garage sale or give to a designer that specialises in upcycling clothing.
34. If you must purchase fashion items, choose items with the least environmental footprint such as eco-friendly fabrics (i.e. organic cotton, hemp), locally manufactured and ethically made.
This infographic will help you on your journey to a sustainable wardrobe.
35. Grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Start by growing these herbs and when you’ve got them down pat, try other plants.
36. Use garden mulch as it protects the soil and conserves water. I list all the reasons to mulch your gardens in this article.
37. Avoid synthetic fertilisers and pesticides and learn the principles of permaculture to grow your garden organically.
38. Purchase plants that are hardy and drought resistant, which is particularly important if you live in a drought-prone environments such as Australia and some parts of the world such as California.
39. If need be, use organic fertilisers such as manure.
40. Use beer traps to capture slugs instead of using poisons.
41. Pull weeds by hand or use chemical-free weed killers instead of using chemical herbicides.
42. Start your own compost pile and use it on your gardens.
43. Plant windbreaks of evergreen shrubs which will help if you live in a windy area.
44. If you’d like to keep your house cool in the summer, plant shade trees in the south side of the house.
45. Plant fruit trees and herbs in your front garden (if you have one) and encourage your neighbours to do the same. Communities with edible gardens foster great camaraderie. Lawns are okay, but a useful garden that you can share with your neighbours is better.
46. Raise chickens if possible, particularly if you enjoy eating eggs. Even in small suburban backyards, it is possible to keep up to four chickens. Plus you get healthy fresh free-range eggs.
47. Avoid buying things that you don’t really need so you’re not adding to waste. You’ll find more tips on how to consume less in this comprehensive post.
48. Bring reusable shopping bags when going shopping.
49. Take a reusable water bottle so that you’re not tempted to purchase one when you’re running errands. To learn how to put together a Zero Waste Tool Kit, check out this article.
50. Go to the farmers markets for your produce as you are more likely to avoid food items wrapped in plastic. If you need help breaking up with supermarkets, read my post on how I divorced the supermarkets.
51. Purchase milk in glass bottles (old school but there are brands are out there!) and reuse the bottles.
52. Avoid purchasing single-use disposable items such as plastic-wrapped vegetables.
53. Avoid purchasing products/brands that individually wrap and use excessive packaging.
54. Purchase items with longevity in mind. Even if a little dearer, it is better than the waste involved in buying cheaper items that constantly have to be replaced.
55. Buy items in bulk to avoid package waste. In Australia, shop at a zero waste store like the Source Bulk Foods.
56. When buying white goods and electrical items, read the energy star ratings and purchase the most energy-efficient you can afford.
57. Do your research and opt for eco-friendly options that have been externally accredited such as certified organic.
58. Bring your own food containers when going to the deli or market so you can avoid disposable plastic.For a comprehensive review of how you can make the switch from disposables to reusables, check out: 22 Steps Closer to Zero Waste Living: Disposable Items to Stop Buying Right Now
59. Avoid plastic cling wrap and opt for storing food in reusable containers or make your own food wraps.
60. Use coconut oil for deep hair conditioning if you need to.
61. Make your own face cleanser by using coconut oil and wiping down with cloth.
62. Make your own toothpaste with baking soda.
63. Make your own toner by mixing apple cider vinegar with water.
64. Make your own hair shampoo by using vinegar or just use natural soap (it works trust me)
65. Let your hair dry naturally instead of blow drying to save energy – unless of course, your house is off-the-grid and you’re using renewable energy.
66. Grow aloe vera and use its gel as moisturiser and sunburn relief.
67. Make your own face masks with oatmeal or egg whites.
68. Use cucumbers or chamomile tea bags cooled in the fridge for eye relief and hydration.
69. Avoid facial wipes as it is a single-use disposable product. Instead, wash with a cleanser and wipe with a damp clothes.
AT THE OFFICE
70. Purchase recycled paper for the printer.
71. Implement an office recycling program for paper, cardboard as well as print cartridges.
72. Encourage people to use their own mugs and cups rather than disposable cups when making coffee, tea or pouring from the water cooler.
73. Where possible provide people the opportunity to work from home. This will help to empower will help save on commuting time and costs.
74. If laptops are not in use, make sure they quickly go into energy-saving mode.
75. Check to see if odd bits of paper can be used as scrap paper.
76. Maintain a paperless environment where possible. For example, communications to be done via email and encourage people not to print their emails if unnecessary.
77. Use a scanner rather than posting or faxing to save paper.
78. Encourage staff to turn off their computers and laptops at the end of the day. Turn off all electrical items at the power point including lights.
79. If you are flying by plane, don’t forget to offset your carbon emissions. Most good airline companies provide this option.
80. Take cloth serviettes and handkerchiefs to avoid disposable napkins and tissues.
81. Don’t buy things you don’t need. You’ll be surprised how many souvenirs people return with that just sits in a cupboard gathering dust. I think photos make the best souvenirs.
82. Choose eco-friendly accommodation. Eco tourism is gaining popularity catering to the earth-conscious traveller.
83. Don’t leave towels lying around as hotel staff will wash them. Towels should be okay to use for a week or more without needing to be washed. After all, how many of us come out of the shower dirty?
84. Where possible, commute on public transport, tourist buses or car pool rather than hiring private cars.
85. Make sure to pack everything you need such as your reusable coffee mugs, cups, water bottles, soap, shampoo and conditioner to avoid disposable items and plastic-wrapped soap and other hotel amenities.
86. Make sure to clean up after yourself wherever you go, especially when sightseeing in natural environments. It is sad when you visit places and there is rubbish and plastic that end up on the banks of rivers, beaches and other beautiful surroundings.
87. Walk or cycle whenever possible.
88. Use public transport if locations are not in walking or cycling distance.
89. If you need a car, purchase the most eco-friendly you can afford such as the Toyota Prius. Otherwise, do your homework and get a car that is economically fuel-efficient.
90. Carpool to and from work, or any other times it makes sense to.
91. Drive sensibly. Braking too hard will consume more fuel.
92. Make sure your tyres are pumped up at all times as this affects fuel efficiency.
93. Keep your car serviced and maintained to gain maximum fuel efficiency.
OUT & ABOUT
94. Avoid plastic straws when you order drinks at a pub, bar, restaurant. Remind the bar staff as they pour the drinks as it is often second nature for them to add a straw.
95. Don’t accept disposable cutlery such as forks, sporks and even chopsticks. Try to eat in where possible so that you are using ceramic dishes and proper utensils to avoid waste.
96. Say no to styrofoam at all times.
97. Take your reusable coffee cup to avoid the disposable ones.
98. Instead of buying new things for rare occasions, consider borrowing the items from family and friends instead. For example, if you are going camping and it’s something you don’t often do, borrow a tent and sleeping bags rather than buying new. We also encourage you to check out Fat Llama, a peer-to-peer online marketplace dubbed “The Airbnb of Stuff” where you can borrow and lend almost anything (only available to UK and US residents).
99. Find alternatives to plastic packaged pet food by either purchasing meat from the butcher (bringing your own container) or boxed food (recycle the cardboard).
100. Avoid plastic liners in kitty litter and just wash out when you need to.
101. Try home-made flea and tick solutions such as vinegar, lemon juice and water instead of toxic solutions found at your pet-store.
102. Become a member of environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth etc.
103. Donate to environmental organisations as our monetary donations help support the important advocacy work they do.
104. Write to your local government or local member of parliament if you have a green agenda to push.
105. Write to the editor of your local newspaper promoting environmental causes or voicing concerns.
106. Share your new found green knowledge with family and friends so that they may become more conscious and implement similar changes to help reduce environmental impact and the effects of climate change.
107. Offset your annual carbon emissions by voluntary purchasing carbon credits. Details of how to purchase carbon offsets can be found here.
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