7 Sustainable Living Tips That Prove Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
When it comes to saving the planet, small daily actions add up. Avoid the eco-overwhelm with these sustainable living tips that make an impact.
If you want to be a superhero for the planet—but have a serious case of eco-overwhelm trying to get started—you're not alone. The good news? Becoming more sustainable isn't as daunting as it seems, because even the smallest steps we take add up to a huge impact on the world around us.
From taking public transport to adding more plant-based meals to your diet, there are countless ways you can start making a difference. Here are some simple sustainable living tips to help you get started.
7 Sustainable Living Tips That Make a Big Impact
1. Ditch Single-Use Water Bottles
Switching from your go-to pack of plastic water bottles to a reusable water bottle might not seem like it would make a huge difference, but let's look at the numbers.
Globally, one million plastic water bottles are sold every minute. Most people assume those bottles will be recycled, but the reality is 85% of them wind up in landfills where they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. They also end up in oceans, where they become a threat to marine life.
Find a reusable water bottle you love and make it your BFF. The one-time investment will be put to use for years to come.
2. Go the Reusable Route
The average American likely has at least one of the following in their kitchen: plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or plastic Ziploc bags. With 5.3 million people using 10 or more rolls of unrecyclable plastic wrap in 2020 alone, that waste from single-use items adds up.
One simple way to cut down on kitchen waste is to opt for reusable alternatives to the items you use every day. Instead of using plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover leftovers, try reusable fabric bowl covers and pan covers. And instead of plastic Ziplocs or containers, opt for silicone reusable bags and reusable containers.
3. Take Public Transport
If you live in an area where public transportation is an option, ditch your car and use the eco-friendly alternative a couple of times each week.
According to UCLA, compared with driving, public transit reduces CO2 emissions by 45%. Riding the bus, subway, or your bike also reduces traffic congestion and improves air quality.
Consider investing in an electric bike to make your commute more sustainable. What better way to kick off your day than getting some fresh air and sunshine?
4. Skip the Dryer and Opt for a Dying Rack
A simple way to save energy (and reduce your carbon footprint) is to do as the Europeans do: ditch the dryer and instead dry your clothes on a drying rack or clothesline.
Making this move might sound intimidating at first, but considering continents like Asia and Europe operate nearly entirely without dryers, it's easier than you think. And when you do need to use the dryer (some items like towels require it for the "fluff" factor), swap dryer sheets for dryer balls.
5. Eat a Plant-Based Meal Once a Week
Choosing to eat a plant-based meal once a week is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. According to a report from the UN, animal agriculture is unsustainable because of the emissions it creates. It's also a leading cause of biodiversity loss and deforestation, as Amazon rainforests are cut down to meet the high demand for beef.
By choosing plant-based meals, we can reduce our impact on the environment and support a more sustainable food system. Plus, there are so many delicious plant-based meals out there to try, like these vegetarian air-fryer recipes.
6. Swap Your Paper Towels
Sure, paper towels are convenient—but they're not the most sustainable or affordable option to stock your kitchen with. Aside from contributing to deforestation, they also create a lot of waste (they can't be recycled, so into the trash they go) and are water-intensive to create (one ton requires 20,000 gallons).
7. Head to the Farmers' Market
It's officially farmers' market season, and that's great news for the planet. Buying locally-grown produce reduces the distance it travels (aka its food miles) to reach our plates, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
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