How To Live More Sustainably: 52 Tips To Becoming a Conscious Consumer

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live more sustainably

Quick life hack to share with all of you – if you have an Amazon return to make, you can return your package at a Kohl’s department store and 9 times out of 10, you’ll get $5 in free Kohl’s cash. Kohl’s cash, for the uninitiated, is basically free money. It’s a marketing ploy to get you to spend more money to get more ‘free money’. I don’t typically shop at Kohl’s (although they do have a clothing line that is made out of recycled plastic!), however, I’m also not one to throw away 5 bucks.

I decided to turn that free $5 into a fun personal challenge where I find something at the store that is so discounted that I can get it for free. On one such recent adventure, while I was perusing the clearance section, I struck gold. For the low low price of just $4.99 I scored a box of weekly challenges to ‘become an eco warrior’, and now I’m sharing those 52 tips with you below. I hope my penny pinching pays off and inspires you to add one, two or fifty-two of these to your life.

52 Tips to live more sustainably

  1. Buy in bulk whenever you can to reduce packaging.
  2. If you do have to drive, consider starting a carpool with your neighbors.
  3. Invest in a solar phone charger for a sustainable way to charge your phone.
  4. Whenever you get take out, make a note on the order not to include any cutlery or napkins – you have both those things at home!
  5. Tea bags are often not biodegradable so consider switching to loose tea leaves with a tea infuser.
  6. Be conscientious when you turn on the heating. Make sure all the windows and doors are shut so you’re not losing any heat.
  7. If you have periods, try switching to a reusable menstrual cup.
  8. Make the switch to bars of soap instead of liquid hand soap and shower gels to cut down on your plastic consumption.
  9. Buy less but buy better. Whether it’s a T shirt or a kettle, invest in items that will last longer instead of buying something cheap that will fall apart quickly and become landfill in a couple of months. (My friend over at landerline.com calls this the ’30 year challenge’)
  10. Think twice each time you go to throw something away – could you repurpose it in any way?
  11. Stick to the “empties” rule – only buy a replacement or substitute product once you’ve entirely used up the previous one. Nobody needs five different moisturizers or three cans of the same deodorant!
  12. Houseplants help to absorb CO2 in the room, so pick some that are easy to care for.
  13. If you travel abroad, a lot of airline companies offer carbon offsetting programs where you can pay money to tree-planting initiatives as a way to neutralize your flight.
  14. Line your trash cans with newspaper instead of using plastic liners.
  15. Put your food scraps to good use and begin a compost pile. Research what you should and should not be adding to the pile, or see if there are any local composting opportunities.
  16. Avoid impulse purchases becoming landfill by implementing a 24-hour wait policy when buying non-essential items. This will cut down on wasteful buying and hopefully save you some money too!
  17. Embrace the concept of clean beauty. Research beauty brands that are vegan, cruelty-free and use more sustainable production methods.
  18. Invest in a bamboo toothbrush since they’re made more sustainable than plastic ones.
  19. Don’t ignore leaky or dripping taps in your home. Be sure to get them fixed quickly to avoid water wastage.
  20. Research companies that use sustainable palm oil in their products and try to avoid those that don’t.
  21. Invest in a metal reusable straw.
  22. Turn down your heating a few degrees and opt to wear a sweater instead.
  23. Encourage your workplace to adopt green practices. See if you can set up a paper recycling station by the printers, or implement carpooling.
  24. Make sure that you’re recycling as much as you can. Paper, metal and glass are widely recyclable, as are some forms of plastic.
  25. Research any local environmental charities you can volunteer with. If there aren’t any, research how to start your own or consider donating online!
  26. Write to your local political representative about environmental issues that concern you, whether it’s the need for more recycling facilitiesl, encouraging supermarkets to donate leftover food or starting a community garden.
  27. Buy recycled versions of household products such as toilet paper, paper towels and coffee filters. Better yet, use fabric napkins and reusable metal coffee filter for pour over coffee.
  28. Avoid single-use products such as disposable razors and cutlery. Invest in reusable instead.
  29. Host an exchange with your friends where you can swap unwanted clothes, books, shoes and accessories. (I’ve done a quarterly clothing swap with friends for nearly 10 years and it’s a blast)
  30. Switch off your lights and make use of natural lighting.
  31. Avoid letting the water run when brushing your teeth or washing the dishes.
  32. Use old T shirts or towels to clean your kitchen surfaces instead of paper towels. When they get dirty, simply wash and reuse.
  33. If you’re able to, plant your own herbs. They’re easy to maintain and provide you with locally grown flavor.
  34. Cleaning products are often made with harsh chemicals that are not biodegradable. Research natural, homemade cleaning products that can be made with simple ingredients.
  35. If you have a lawn or window box, plant bee-friendly plants like lavender, zinnias, lilac and honeysuckle.
  36. Most washing machines are efficient enough to work at lower temperatures, so switch to a cooler washing program. Be sure to wash a full load so that you’re not wasting any water or electricity.
  37. Invest in rechargeable batteries.
  38. Invest in a water filter and say goodbye to bottled water.
  39. Instead of buying a book and reading it just once, join a local library.
  40. Instead of using an electric dryer for your laundry, opt to line dry or to use a clothes rack instead.
  41. Appliances can still use electricity when left on standby so be sure to switch off and unplug as much as possible each night.
  42. Stick to a 5 minute shower each day to save water.
  43. Enforce a “zero food waste” rule to make sure that you don’t throw out food that could have been eaten. Freeze leftovers, make smoothies and think of creative ways to use up leftover food.
  44. Support your local farmers market and make it a goal to buy produce that was grown as close to you as possible.
  45. Learn to fix things when they break instead of throwing them away. A simple stitch, repair or clean is sometimes enough to keep something from the landfill.
  46. Set yourself a challenge that you’ll only buy second-hand clothes for a whole month. Scour local thrift stores and vintage clothing apps and unsubscribe to fast fashion.
  47. Research the companies you buy from so you can support ones that have clear environmental policies in place – and shop local where you can.
  48. Always have reusable shopping bags handy so you can avoid single-use plastic bags #bagban
  49. Adhere to the “30 minute” rule – if your destination is less than a 30-minute walk away, and it’s safe to do so, walk it or ride your bike.
  50. Sign up for paperless billing with your suppliers. It’s easy to do and helps to reduce paper consumption.
  51. Even if you’re not looking to go vegetarian (or vegan like me), try having a meat-free dinner at least once a week. Consuming less meat helps to reduce carbon emissions, and gives you a chance to be creative with your cooking
  52. Plan your meals in advance to avoid any potential food waste.

There you have it! A year’s worth of weekly challenges to start living a more sustainable life. If you’re feeling ambitious, why wait a year? Dive in and see how many you can turn into habits today. And if you have any additional tips, I’d love to hear them. Comment here, shoot me an email or find me on Twitter @katiefellenz.