Easy ways to live more sustainably

In the past years I’ve grown increasingly aware of climate change and the importance of sustainable living. It’s easy to feel like you’re only one person and your efforts don’t really help at all – I often feel this way as well. Especially as only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions, it seems as if our small efforts as individuals don’t matter in the big picture. And to an extent, I guess that is true. I believe measures meant to fight climate change should first and foremost put the burden on the biggest polluters. Way too often, they instead disproportionally put the burden on poor or disabled people – see for example the straw ban.

However, I still believe we also each have an individual responsibility to live more sustainably in whichever way we can. I always try to remember that if a lot of people do something, it might still have an impact. By changing what we want as consumers we might still change what companies do as well. Of course, we all live in different circumstances and we can’t all do the same things to save the environment – but we can all try to do our best in our own ways to make our own carbon footprint a little smaller. So here are 5 tips to live a little more sustainably.

A white, red and purple reusable water bottle on a cloth background that is blue with large white dots.

1. Use a reusable water bottle

If you live in an area with drinkable tap water, a reusable water bottle is an absolute must-have. In recent years I’ve seen more and more people use reusable water bottles, and for the past couple of years I have been using one myself too. I need to drink a lot of water for my health conditions so I take a bottle with me everywhere I go. Imagine the amount of plastic I’d use without a reusable bottle! And drinking tap water instead of constantly having to buy mineral water saves a lot of money as well.

2. Use reusable shopping bags

Here in the Netherlands, most people already used reusable bags for grocery shopping, but generally not for other things such as clothes. Plastic shopping bags were given to you with your purchase without even asking. But now that plastic bags cost around 25 cents, most people have started to bring their own reusable bags. And companies have played into this by selling all kinds of fashionable linen bags and foldable bags that don’t take up a lot of space. But even if you live somewhere where plastic bags are still given for free, it’s better for the environment to take your own.

3. Eat less meat and other animal products

Of course, there are many reasons why going vegan is not for everyone. But the livestock industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, and even just reducing your meat intake can already make a huge difference – if a family of four would skip steak once a week, it’s supposed to have the same impact as not driving your car for 3 months. And with all meat alternatives out there these days, it’s quite easy to eat a healthy vegetarian or vegan meal without missing the meat.

Three sweaters folded on a white cabinet with a white background, a fake flower in a vase and a picture in a frame are visible behind it.

4. Buy less fast fashion

The fashion industry is another industry that has a huge environmental impact: it is often cited as the second most polluting industry in the world, right after oil. Fast fashion in particular, where new clothes are produced constantly at a low cost to keep up with changing trends, is contributing to this problem – and it’s producing a lot of textile waste as well. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to only buy from ethical sustainable brands, but another great alternative is buying second-hand. And if second-hand clothing is not easily available to you, you can always just literally buy less fast fashion, and opt for their sustainable collections where possible. This is what I’m currently doing as well: there aren’t many thrift stores near me, shopping online is usually easier for me with my health, and buying second-hand online is too much of a risk to me. So I just try to live a more minimalist lifestyle where I try to only buy what I really need, and donate or recycle the clothes that I don’t wear anymore.

5. Recycle!

This one is probably the most obvious tip in this list, but it’s also one that’s very easy to forget or be careless with. It’s good to get yourself familiar with the rules for separating waste in your area and always know which trash goes into which bin. If certain waste isn’t separated in your area, you can check if there are collection points that do recycle or resell certain goods, such as clothes or electronics. And before recycling those things, always check if it can be repaired instead – especially repairing electronics could be much cheaper than buying new. Not everything can be recycled, so extending the lives of our stuff is a great way to avoid unnecessary waste and consume a little less.

So there you have it: 5 ways in which you can live a little more sustainably. Were these tips helpful to you or have you heard them a thousand times before already? What things do you do to live more sustainably? Let me know in the comments!


6 thoughts on “Easy ways to live more sustainably

  1. Think many people miss out on using more eco friendly products because they’re quite expensive! Hopefully the government steps in and encourage the eco friendly movement.

    I’m on the fence on getting a compost-able tooth brush but $9 for a tooth brush is pretty steep for the wallet.

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  2. Great tips. We’ve always recycled in our house but our plastic isn’t very good. I’m always looking for small ways I can contribute to living more sustainably. I think if everyone did one little thing, it’d be a huge help.

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