Have you ever heard of Extinction Rebellion? If you’re a citizen of the UK the odds are you definitely have. This group of activists has shut down roads and bridges in London to prompt the government to take immediate action in regards to the climate crisis. In the meanwhile we wonder how to live more sustainably to do our own part.
If being in the middle of all the action isn’t your ultimate cup of tea, there’s still a ton of little things in our everyday lives how each of us can contribute. Little things that in a short period of time will have a massive impact on our own surroundings as well as our wallets.
Many of these tips are things that I learned from my parents while growing up. And then there are things that I’ve incorporated into my life as I’ve lived around Europe. Each and every little thing has saved me thousands of Euros, on top of which my carbon footprint is a lot smaller than for most.
Let’s dig in!
How To Live More Sustainably
1. Save Water
Saving water at every opportunity is the easiest, most simple thing you could incorporate into your everyday life, starting now!
Water is a renewable resource but at the same time it is becoming a luxury on our planet, which is heating up, meaning that water supplies will completely disappear from enormous areas in the world in the near future. Deserts are rapidly growing in size, while water table is drying out.
We need to understand how fortunate we really are to have drinkable tap water! It’s a luxury. So, how do we save water?
First thing is to close the tap in the shower while you apply shower gel or shampoo. Don’t worry, the heat will not disappear from the room while you do this. Let the water flow only when you actually need it.
Same rule applies in the kitchen. The tap shouldn’t be running if you don’t have anything under it specifically, or while you’re washing your teeth. Turn that tap off!
2. Walk Everywhere
I’m aware that this is not possible everywhere: there are security and distance issues. But as long as walking is a possibility, choose that or cycling.
Public transport, particularly in Europe, is moving from carbon fuel vehicles to electric vehicles faster than we can even comprehend. But walking presents you with the most brilliant opportunity to get your dose of everyday exercise done at the same time.
All you need are good shoes and a killer playlist on your phone!
I’m so lucky to live in the city center, so for me walking is an obvious option. I walk to the grocery store, to work, and to the other side of the city to meet friends in the trendiest bars and restaurants. I could even walk to the airport but with a 20-kilo suitcase I would opt for an eco-vehicle.
Thankfully my chosen taxi app, Bolt, just announced that their rides are now completely carbon neutral. They do this by supporting a number of carbon offsetting projects around the globe.
3. Unplug Your Chargers
Just like saving water, this is another extremely easy and fast way to live more sustainably. We tend to leave the chargers plugged in when we remove our phones and laptops from them. So, from now on, unplug all your chargers when you’re not charging anything.
Did you know that a plugged in charger uses electricity even if there’s nothing attached to the other end? And after a while it does accumulate quite an amount of electricity used for nothing.
There is also the issue of chargers exploding after having been left plugged in on their own. That’s because there’s actual electricity running through them the whole time.
Instead of risking coming home from work to find nothing but one singed and smoking wall standing where your house used to be, unplug that phone charger.
4. Decrease Meat Consumption
Obviously. I’m not going to spew percentages on how much of an impact livestock farming is having on our environment because you already know (or if you don’t, perhaps it’s time for your to educate yourself).
Suffice to say, it’s massive! Meat and dairy products’ consumption has been in decline in the past couple years but not enough. And many seem to miss the point that less is not the same as not at all. You don’t need to give up meat altogether!
Just decrease your consumption. Instead of eating meat every day of the week, eat meat just 3 or 5 days of the week. If not for the planet, try it for yourself. To live more sustainably is healthy as well: you will quickly notice how much better you feel after cutting down on red meat.
I decreased my meat consumption about 5 years ago without even realizing, and the change in how I felt made me realize that meat really isn’t something we need much or should eat that much. I still like my steak every now and then, even though I know that afterwards I will not feel good.
5. Eat More Vegetarian Meals
Continuing on that subject, even if you ditch meat products for several days a week to live more sustainably, you are still allowed to enjoy the food you eat. And take it from me, it’s not difficult at all!
Start easy and go for pasta: there’s avocado pasta, pasta with pumpkin, pasta with tomatoes and cheese (mozzarella or feta, oooh life is good!), mushrooms in cream pasta, you know how to google, right? The amount of incredible, quick and easy vegetarian pasta recipes is humongous.
I’m not much of a cook but even I manage to feed myself very well each week without meat. And in many restaurants I would rather go for the vegetarian option because they are SO AMAZING these days. Just try. You can’t say you don’t like it before you tried it ;)
6. Style Sustainably
I love fashion and coming up with new outfits. But here’s the thing: new outfit doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the shops. According to studies we only wear 1 garment 7 times before tossing it, because some twat once upon a time came up with the idea that we shouldn’t be seen in the same outfit multiple times.
This is bordering on absolute insanity and is such a ridiculous a notion, that I would just like to whack whoever came up with that initial idea in the head with my wardrobe. Please people, stop being that stupid.
Even royalty wear the same dresses and suits over and over again, surely we can follow their lead. I can’t think of bigger influencers, after all. Can you?
Our wardrobes are full of beautiful, wearable clothes, that become completely new outfits just by styling them with different pieces. Choose one top and come up with 3 or more bottom pairs for it. When you get to it, you’ll notice it’s actually quite a lot of fun.
This should be an obvious thing by now, but every now and then I do bump into people who do not recycle. And I find it bizarre. Where I’m from not recycling is worth gaining you a hefty fine.
It’s such a fluent part of our everyday lives that we don’t even pay attention to it. And by doing it we manage to live more sustainably without even trying.
Whether it’s plastic, glass, metal or bio waste, most households and buildings have separate containers for all of them. One thing I would really like to see spreading, though, is the bottle bank system that we have in Finland:
In every supermarket’s hallway there are bottle banks where you can return every single plastic and glass bottle as well as beer and cider cans. For each bottle you will get a payback of around 0,20€. So, already if you’ve got 10 bottles, you get 2€ back for returning them.
You can then either get the money as cash from the supermarket cashier, or use the receipt as a discount voucher for your grocery shopping. All the returned bottles are cleaned and reused by beverage companies. There’s no waste whatsoever!
This is another thing that has always existed in Finland, and I cannot comprehend why this system isn’t in use anywhere else…
8. Invest In Renewable Energy
Maybe it’s me getting old but lately I’ve become very interested in investing. The current pension systems will not exist anymore when I’m 70, so I need to fund my pension some other way. And renewable energy seems like a safe bet because it’s the only way forward.
There are loads of ways to invest in renewable energy: investing in companies that create renewable technology, investing in renewable energy projects, etc.
A method that is gaining popularity fast is offsetting your flight carbon footprint. You pay a bit of extra for your flight and the money goes to carbon offset schemes and projects.
Also, we’d do well to try and move our money away from companies that promote the opposite way of life.
Large banks are funding petrol companies, and of course they thus have a lot of power both politically and economically. And they will cling on to that power, make no mistake! We need to start thinking bigger when it comes to our money: where we keep it and who do we give it to.
To Zara’s billionaire CEO or to a small, local clothing brand; to a bank that missuses our money investing it in unsustainable businesses, or to a smaller, more trustworthy banks that are involved in supporting renewable energy projects?
9. Avoid (Single-Use) Plastic
To live a completely plastic-free life is almost impossible. But things are changing quickly, so hopefully not for too long!
As long as it is near-impossible to avoid plastic overall, we can still focus on avoiding particularly single-use plastic. A picnic doesn’t require disposable plates and cutlery, food packaging doesn’t need to be made out of plastic, and plastic bottles should be recyclable.
To live more sustainably may sound like a daunting prospect, but at the end of the day it’s very small changes in our everyday routines.
In case you’d like to do a bit more you could also contact your local politicians and challenge them to make your town/city more eco-friendly by implementing the bottle bank system in every grocery store, or urge them to make recycling as easy and effortless as possible.
Now I give the mike to you: do you worry about your eco-footprint or try to implement more sustainable ways to your everyday life? Or do you feel like it’s all a lost course? ♥
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