We all know about “reduce, reuse, and recycle,” but there is so much more that everyone can do to reduce their footprint on the environment and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Such a lifestyle carries benefits beyond slogans of “saving the earth.” Sustainable living can save you a lot of money as you waste less energy and material goods, and certain habits can be healthy for you as well. Here are five simple yet highly beneficial ways that you can move towards a sustainable lifestyle which will help you and the planet.
1. Stop eating out
In 2015, Americans spent more money dining out than buying groceries for the first time since data collection began in 1992.
While eating out may be easier than cooking by yourself, it is a terrible habit. From an environmental perspective, takeout creates wasteful plastic containers. And, of course, there is the gas wasted driving to eat out when you could stay home and cook.
But even if you are not interested in the environment, constantly eating out does a number on your wallet in the long run. You may not think about dropping seven to twelve dollars for a meal over the short run, but it adds up over time. Furthermore, a home-cooked meal will almost always be healthier than what you will buy from a restaurant.
Are you scared of cooking? Don’t be. There are plenty of websites online which can teach you easy recipes and help you to appreciate the benefits of cooking.
2. Go thrift store shopping
There is nothing more sustainable than taking one man’s trash and turning it into your treasure. And by going thrift store shopping, you are showing a true aversion to waste. Furthermore, you can support non-profit charities instead of large corporations which don’t have environmentally friendly practices. And there are the financial benefits of not spending $50 for a t-shirt.
It should be noted that thrift store shopping can be hit or miss, and do not be afraid to walk out of a thrift store with nothing. But you may find a full range of eco-friendly products including cosmetics and detergents. And if you want to find a good thrift store, then aim for one in an upper middle-class neighborhood like Trent Hamm suggests. These are the areas where people are more likely to throw out perfectly fine goods which you can use.
3. Eat less meat
Note here that I am not suggesting you go vegetarian. Some sacrifices are too much.
But going meatless one day a week can help your health, and meat is an environmentally inefficient method of producing food. A cow can never produce as much food as the large amounts of corn which are used to feed it, and there is the problem of cattle methane production.
Eggs and nuts are a good, tasty source of protein which are healthier for you than steak. But don’t use fish as a substitute. Given the global overfishing crisis, eating fish is arguably even worse for the environment than meat. And if you absolutely cannot survive a day without meat, go with chickens over pork, and especially over beef.
4. Dry your clothes outside
No household appliance uses more energy than a clothes dryer, and it is particularly irksome when nature can dry your clothes for free.
Now, hanging clothes outside may not be for everyone. You may not have enough space, or you may be afraid of animals coming by and messing with your clothes. There is nothing worse than seeing bird droppings on that shirt you just washed.
But if you have the space, try and test it out. You will be surprised at how quickly clothes can dry, as well as how good it can smell. And if you get it down once, then there are a lot of tips to drying clothes which our ancestors knew but which we have forgotten. Here is a series of tips which can make clothes drying easier and more environmentally efficient.
5. Go paperless
Humans cut down 15 billion trees each year for various reasons, and some of them are necessary for our civilization. But one use for trees which is less and less necessary is paper, as we rely more on electronics to read and obtain information.
But many of us still get catalogues, junk mail, and bills through the mail instead of electronically. This creates additional paper waste, especially since we toss those bills into the garbage instead of recycling them. Going electronic is simpler than ever, and is easier to track and keep records of compared to paper bills, which can be lost or shoved in some drawer.
Another good way to save paper and money is to rely more on the library instead of buying books. Not everyone needs their own book, and sharing them through the library is better for the environment and spreads knowledge throughout the community.
Featured photo credit: phototouring via flickr.com