Sustainable Living for Beginners

by Alek Sabin

It’s safe to say that most people would like humans to have less of a negative impact on the environment, whether it is through extreme waste or reduced energy usage. However, the solution to these problems can’t come from large legislative measures, alone. Some of the greatest impact can be done by each of us, as individuals, taking steps to live more sustainably.

We could probably all stand to be a little more environmentally conscious in our day-to-day lives, but some people aren’t quite sure how to get started, or imagine that they need to make drastic changes to their way of life. This is far from the truth, though. The reality is that you can make a big difference through simple changes towards sustainable living. Here are some tips on how to do just that…

Use Your Own Water Bottle

Around 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year, as the recycle rate for those bottles in America is only around 23%. This adds up to billions of pounds of plastic waste, and more than $1 billion in plastic that is wasted, annually. Obviously, we should all do our part to recycle our plastic bottles, or find ways that we can reuse them around our homes. However, the biggest thing that you can do to reduce the waste of plastic bottles is to simply stop using them. You can do this by purchasing your own reusable water bottle, which is probably a better product, anyways, as it will be more insulated and have less of a plastic-y taste.

Unplug Your Home

Besides reducing waste, another one of the biggest ways that homeowners can live more sustainably is to reduce the energy usage in their homes. This seems like it is a difficult challenge, but there are actually some simple habits that you can get into that will drastically reduce the energy you use each month. On top of being more green, these things will also cut back on your energy bill, which is a great bonus! For example, things like microwaves, computers, and chargers often remain plugged in throughout a home, but around 75% of the energy that is used by those items comes from them sitting in standby. Unplugging these things when you aren’t using them can make a big dent in your monthly energy usage.

Program Your Thermostat

There are other ways that you can cut down on your home’s energy usage each month, which will help you live more sustainably and save on home energy costs. One of the biggest energy drains in your home comes from your heating and cooling system. Most Americans do a rather poor job of reducing their heating and cooling costs by allowing it to be highly inefficient. For this reason, it is beneficial to get a thermostat that you are able to program, so that you can carefully set it to only work when you are actually going to be home, or turn it off in the evening, when you have less need for it. This can save hundreds of dollars, every month, for some homeowners!

Use Cloth Napkins and Towels

While many people and businesses have become more and more paperless over the years, one of the biggest uses of paper in homes is due to napkins and paper towels. However, the utility of paper towels and napkins can easily be done by using cloth, instead of paper.

Use Reusable Grocery Bags

Another one of the biggest wastes of plastic in America is because of the use of plastic grocery bags. While these bags can be reused and recycled, the reality is that a vast majority of them do not (even less than plastic bottles). This is a fairly easy thing to adapt to, because most grocery stores sell reusable grocery bags, which enable you to do all of your grocery shopping without tossing away a bundle of plastic.


"Time spent with cats is never wasted." ~ Sigmund Freud