Helpful Hacks

30 Easy Habits You Can Start Now to Be More Sustainable (And Save Money!)

written by JESSICA FRIEDHOFF
how to be more sustainable"
how to be more sustainable
Source: Jess Ann Kirby
Source: Jess Ann Kirby

Being kinder to the planet is something we can all get behind, but when you’re trying to find ways to be more sustainable in your daily life, it can be difficult to know where to begin. After all, pollution, plastic waste, and climate change are big problems that aren’t going to be solved overnight or by one single person. But that’s not to say that your actions don’t matter. The best way to be more sustainable? Go slow and steady by making eco-friendly habits a part of your daily routine. Over time, all those greener choices can add up to a huge difference.

Below are 30 switches that anyone can make right now to make sustainability a bigger priority. Whether you’re overwhelmed by going green or just need a few back-pocket tips to inspire a friend, take heart! Adopting even one suggestion from this list means you’ll be doing more than most.

30 Ways to Be More Sustainable, Starting Right Now

1. Save your leftovers. You won’t have to cook quite as often and you’ll be eliminating food waste—it’s a win-win situation.

2. Unplug your devices when you’re not using them. Chances are you have tons of things plugged in in your home right now that you aren’t actively using. Conserve energy by taking the extra second to unplug once you’re finished charging up.

3. Make your own cleaning supplies. Many store-bought cleaners contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, and you can easily create your own cleaning supplies with items already in your home. Ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and dish soap can act as powerful cleaners for all sorts of surfaces. You can also use refillable glass bottles to stop the need for single-use plastics.

4. Go paperless. Whether it’s for your bank statements, daily to-do lists, or even journal sessions, anything you once needed a pen and paper for can often be done digitally instead of using up paper.

5. Hang your laundry to dry. Limiting your dryer use significantly reduces energy consumption and is a win for your wardrobe, too. Hang-drying is way gentler on your clothes and can increase their lifespan.

6. Buy secondhand whenever possible. Whether you’re shopping for your home or looking to refresh your wardrobe, thrift stores are a wealth of pre-loved options that don’t contribute to more waste.

how to be more sustainable
Source: @trulyjamie

7. Build your meals around in-season produce. Not only are seasonal fruits and veggies often fresher and easier to find, but they also tend to be cheaper because it takes less effort to grow them and get them to your local grocery store.

8. Use reusable beeswax wraps for fruits, veggies, cheese, and leftovers instead of buying plastic wrap or baggies that just end up in the bin.

9. Shop in-store instead of online. By buying items straight from the store, you eliminate the need for shipping materials and shorten the supply chain, which cuts down on emissions. Plus, you’re more likely to find the right thing the first time around, instead of having to deal with returns.

10. Repair items when they break instead of replacing them. This goes for clothing, household items, electronics, and so much more. If you took the time to repair that broken element or repurpose the damaged item, would it still be usable?

how to be more sustainable
Source: @eacourts

11. Bring your own water bottle. Instead of buying a single-use plastic bottle when you’re out and about, grab a refillable one from home and take it with you.

12. Eat less meat. Since animal products have a higher carbon footprint than many other foods, swapping in plant-based meals a few times a week can make a big difference. These vegetarian recipes are a great place to start.

13. Phase out your paper towels. If you can’t bring yourself to ditch them completely, then switch to washable cleaning cloths and hide the roll “just in case” in a cupboard.

14. Choose a bamboo toothbrush. Plastic toothbrushes take hundreds of years to decompose, so that means every single plastic toothbrush that’s ever been used and thrown away is still out there. For a more sustainable alternative, try one made from bamboo, which is naturally biodegradable and antimicrobial.

15. Try a menstrual cup. Get comfortable with your body and discover the waste-free freedom that comes from using a menstrual cup in place of disposable tampons and liners. Tip: it’s normal if it takes several tries to get the right fit. Don’t be discouraged!

16. Save tissue and packing paper from online shopping hauls. Reuse it as wrapping paper.

how to be more sustainable
Source: @_harlowejames

17. Cook more at home. Not only is making your own meals way cheaper than dining out, it can also help cut down on food waste in the long run.

18. Experiment with shampoo bars until you find one that you love. Reuse the ones you don’t as soap or body wash.

19. Invest in a reusable straight razor. Your shaving game will never be the same.

20. Cut cosmetic sponges and pads in half to get twice the use out of them. Or go the extra mile and invest in washable ones instead.

21. Say no to the plastic straw—because honestly, do you really need it?

22. Switch to toilet paper that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic. Companies like this one make it easy to buy environmentally-conscious toilet paper with the added benefit of building toilets for those in need around the world.

23. Recycle the right way. Aspirational recycling—AKA throwing anything in the recycle bin assuming it’ll be properly sorted late—is counterproductive. Instead, take a few minutes to brush up on what you can actually recycle in your area.

how to be more sustainable
Source: @ryupure

24. Skip the plastic produce bags at the grocery store and put your produce directly into your cart (or canvas shopping bag). You’ll wash it anyway when you get home.

25. Use cold water for your laundry. It takes a ton of energy to heat up the water for a warm-water setting, and cold water often works just as well.

26. Turn the lights off when you leave the room. Your parents probably harped on you for this growing up, and as it turns out, they were right.

27. Decline the bag when shopping. Many boutiques and department stores love to embellish a purchase with what is essentially a fully-wrapped gift. While lovely, it’s also unnecessary.

28. Unsubscribe from physical junk mail lists. Here are six ways to do it.

29. Make your pets eco-friendly. Opt for biodegradable waste bags or make your own kitty litter.

30. Start reading. If you don’t know the why, you’ll be less likely to try to be more sustainable. There is an abundance of eco-conscious reading materials out there, so pick the topic that most interests you—whether it’s how plastic was developed or curbing overconsumption—and start there. (Bonus points for checking out a book from your local library!)