Want to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle but aren’t sure where to begin? Let this list of over 40 ideas help you get started!
Congrats! You’ve decided to go down the path of sustainable living,.
But perhaps you’re feeling a littttttle bit like you do when your 5-year-old is asking you a gazillion questions and still hasn’t washed her hands after using the bathroom while your toddler is crying and signing at you “all done” about who knows what and you’re phone is ringing but you don’t know where it is and there’s a bag of milk that is about 30 minutes away from curdling and where do you even begin?!
(This exact scene plays out no less than 47 times a day.)
Ok, deep breath.
Switching to a more eco-friendly lifestyle can seem like a lot, but it’s a process.
This list is designed to serve as a jumping off point. Instead of feeling like you have to do all the things at once, pick one.
From laundry to dinner prep, eating out to shopping, you’ll find over 40 ideas to help you get started on your green living journey. Many of these eco-friendly living tips are better for the health of you and your loved ones.
Plus, as an added bonus more than half have the added benefits of saving you money in the long run (marked with a $ sign after them).
Easy(ish) ways to help the envrionment
Use cloth napkins and towels instead of disposable ones. $
When cooking dinner, make larger portions and freeze part of it for another week. (Plus it saves you on clean and prep time later, giving you more time to catch up on Game of Thrones!) $
Reduce your meat consumption. (I say this as someone who very much enjoys eating meat). If you’re a heavy meat eater, start by going vegetarian once a week. $
Avoid single-serve snacks — they’re more convenient to grab when you’re on-the-go, but they create a lot more waste and cost you more in the long run. Instead, go for the bigger sizes and pour them into smaller reusable containers to grab when you’re on the go. $
Hold onto glass jars to store leftovers and bulk food items in. You may not have a Pinterest-worthy home, but it’s one less thing to buy! $
Use high-quality glass, silicone, or steal food containers instead of cheap plastic ones for leftovers. They generally have a longer shelf life and won’t leach chemicals into your food.
If you have the option between buying something with glass and plastic packaging, go with one in
Carry a reusuable bag (or two) for those unexpected shopping trips.
If your local grocery store offers it, buy food from the bulk aisle with reusable bags. Use those bags also for purchasing produce instead of the plastic bags offered at grocery stores. $
Buy things used, including clothes, toys, and household items, as much as possible. $
Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up at water fountains when you’re out, or ask
If you’re driving, batch errands to reduce how much you have to drive. $
Bring a reusable coffee cup if you know you’ll be getting a hot beverage on-the-go. (Some places even give you a small discount!)
Carry a zero waste kit.
Keep a bin of gift bags and tissue paper from gifts you receive that you can later reuse for other gifts. $
Lower your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will it reduce your energy consumption by 4–22%, but it will save you money and help prevent accidental scalding. $
Cut down on junk mail in your home and unsubscribe from catalogs and mailings. You can do it individually or use a service such as Catalog Choice.
Reuse plastic bags in smaller garbage bins in your house or bring them in to be recycled — many large grocery chains have bins to drop them in.
Start a small compost bin at home if your local town or city doesn’t offer it. Alternatively, see if there’s a local service you can pay for that fits in your budget, or see if someone in your neighborhood will accept your food scraps!
Check with your utility company to see if you can switch to a renewable energy source. It might increase your utility bills slightly, but depending on the size of your home it might not amount to much more than a couple of dollars.
Donate or sell unwanted products instead of throwing them away. If you’re pressed for time, you can collect them in a box and drop them off at a local thrift store or donation box when you have a big enough collection or stick them outside your home with a “free” sign attached. Some nonprofits, such as Big Brother/Big Sister, will even come to your house and pick up the items for you!
Dry your clothes on a drying rack or outside instead of the dryer. On a nice day, dry them outside — the sun can even help get out stains (though beware it can also make brightly colored fabrics fade). $
Buy powder laundry detergent that comes in a cardboard box (ideally one made from post-consumer waste). We use Countrysave laundry detergent on everything, including our cloth diapers, and our clothes always come out smelling and looking clean.
Switch to wool dryer balls instead of disposable dryer sheets. They’re better for the environment, and with all the artificial chemicals in dryer sheets, better for your body! $
Cut worn out clothes into rags to use for cleaning your home and as tissues. $
About 90% of the energy used to do laundry is used to heat the water, so run your laundry with cold water. In addition to saving energy (and money!), cold water is better for preventing some types of stains from setting and can prolong the life of some clothes (also saving you money!). Save the warmer loads for loads you want to sanitize, such as when the dreaded norovirus hits your family. $
Eating Out & Entertainment
Instead of buying books new, get your books from the library or on your eReader or buy them used from a local used bookstore. $
Keep wrapping materials, fliers, toilet paper tubes, and other random materials you would otherwise recycle or throw away for your kids to use for those random craft projects. $
If you’re having a coffee at a cafe and staying, specifically ask for it “for here” so that they know to give you a reusable mug and/or plate.
At restaurants, ask for no straws when ordering your beverage. (Do this before your beverage arrives — you’ll start noticing that many restaurants have already stuck the straw in your beverage.)
Carry a reusable straw for your kids to use at restaurants.
Bring a water bottle or sippy cup to restaurants for young children to avoid the disposable cup, or specifically ask for a regular cup for kids who are big enough to use it.
Use a menstrual cup (I’ve been very satisfied with my Lunette cup and cleanser), period underwear (something I still have yet to try), and/or reusable pantyliners for your favorite time of the month. (And if you’re especially resourceful, you can make your own DIY pantyliners with upcycled fabric — just make sure you wash it first!) I’ll admit, at first I was kinda grossed out by the idea of them, but after having a baby combined with using cloth diapers it doesn’t phase me. $
Use a shampoo bar instead of a bottle of shampoo — same goes for conditioner and face and body wash. Or better yet, use a multi-use bar for hair and skin! (I’m a big fan of the Akamai 3-in-1 bar.) I keep a bar in an aluminum tin from some fancy chocolates a friend gave me that’s perfect for travel.
Switch to a lotion bar instead of liquid lotion and keep it in a reusable container. You can also coconut oil (remember to buy the kind in glass jar!).
Reduce the length and how frequently you shower. It’s better for your skin and you might find that your hair gets less greasy as you wash it less. (I typically shower every three days unless I get super sweaty.) $
What other tips would you add to switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle?