Going green is more appealing than ever these days. The once humble movement has fully caught on, and for a good reason. Its reach now extends way beyond the stereotypical “tree hugger” — in fact, even that term now seems to have shaken some of its negative connotations in the growing social importance of environmental friendliness.
When we appraise our current situations, we can often find a long list of ways to dial down our own carbon footprints. From basic needs, to hobbies, transportation habits, and much more, honing into a conservational way of thinking can be cleverly applied to nearly every facet of our lives. The possibilities are endless. After all, using what we have most efficiently should never have gone out of style to begin with!
By focusing on our daily behaviors, eating habits, and ongoing living situations, the various branches of energy-saving and waste-reducing ideas begin to spring forth full force.
Of course, there are the obvious little choices: opting for reusable rather than disposable, separating the trash from the recycling for pick-up, shopping at farmers’ markets. These are all awesome ways to lean into a less consumer-centric way of life.
Ready to get a bit deeper? Simply ask yourself a few basic questions to get the ideas flowing:
- Do you regularly flip off lights when you leave a room? If you’re not remembering to remember, what effective reminders can you identify and use, then apply to other similar situations?
- When buying something new, what do you look for? Aside from whether the product meets your needs, are you mindful of packaging? Does the price indicate greater externalized costs (social and environmental implications of the extraction and manufacturing facilities, for example)? Is it something that could be bought second-hand instead?
- Are your cleaning products harmful? Certain chemical compounds may be more heavy than necessary for basic cleaning needs. An array of non-toxic products exist to minimize environmental damage.
- Does your laundry routine maximize your tools? Larger loads, washing on cold whenever possible, hang drying what you can — even cleaning the lint trap after every cycle, are all ways to reduce the excess when laundering up.
- How much extra stuff do you have? Are unused things overly present in your life? If you’re looking to offload all those dust-collecting items, consider joining (or starting!) a local gift economy. The Buy Nothing Project has grown to incredible success, for instance.
These are just a handful of general suggestions to prompt more personal investigation. In reality, there are endless opportunities to green up our daily behaviors which may seem little at a glance, but they really do add up. The merits for your own household’s health and savings alone make these considerations more than worthwhile.
Growing the foods we can is tremendously rewarding and therapeutic. Community gardens are growing in popularity (and produce!), and can be wonderful for trading ingredients and using what we have most wisely.
Check for fresh eggs and dairy products that can be sourced directly from independent farmers in your state. The ripple effects of these pro-environmental purchasing choices ultimately radiate back to us, producing a wave of good feels for giving back to a greater cause.
Shopping locally and donating whatever we won’t eat to food banks are also super beneficial for ourselves and countless others.
Lastly, even the most enthusiastic of meat lovers can agree, the environmental and economical benefits of vegetarianism are extensive and measurable. With so many alternative, tasty meat-replacement protein sources on the market, it’s no longer difficult to sacrifice being an omnivore for just 1-2 days a week. Planning for this actually forces us to try new foods, visit new places, and potentially even make new connections.
Our homes are among the most integral and essential elements of our well-being (just ask Maslow), so it’s a part of our lives that ought to be intentional and gratifying in form and function. By investing in improvements to extend and improve our homes’ sustainability, it’s a meaningful way of returning the favor to that appreciated shelter.
For significant cost savings and value boosts long-term, renewable energy sources and conservation-geared appliances are available, and some even come with fiscal incentives. Check with each of your utility providers to learn more, then expand your search to private companies. Heavy lifting installations aside, there are also DIY systems you can implement affordably, such as rain water collection and motion-sensored lighting.
Renters have much more freedom. In determining the answer to the question how much should I spend on rent, independent young professionals can enjoy the convenience, community, and cost-savings of co-living. With shared goods and living quarters, over-spending on things like groceries, utilities, and streaming services can instantly become a thing of the past. It’s a simple way to cut out several extra, often unnecessary expenses.
Living sustainably is a win-win: not only is combatting the linear systems that have driven our finite resources to crisis states a productive and worthy cause, but we also get to feel great about the local and global impacts of our personal choices. Whether introducing little tweaks to your routine or diving in for a full-on overhaul, every bit of thoughtful action makes a difference.
Of course, doing our parts for plants, animals, and future generations is all well and good, but at the end of the day, enjoying our lives responsibly and guiltlessly is arguably just as worthy of a mission. All we really ever have is now, so let’s make it count!