10 Surprisingly Simple Changes You Can Make to Live More Sustainably

10 Surprisingly Simple Changes You Can Make to Live More Sustainably

10 Surprisingly Simple Changes You Can Make to Live More Sustainably

I know living sustainably can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think. Here are 10 surprisingly simple changes you can make that will have a big impact on reducing your environmental footprint:

1. Buy Local and Seasonal Food

Eating locally grown, in-season produce has many benefits:

  • It supports local farmers and reduces the distance food travels to your plate, lowering carbon emissions from transport.

  • Seasonal produce tastes better and is more nutritious.

  • It’s often cheaper than imported produce.

Some easy ways to eat local:

  • Shop at farmer’s markets and stores that source local ingredients.

  • Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to get regular deliveries of seasonal produce.

  • Check seasonal food guides to see what’s in season each month.

2. Cut Down on Meat

The meat industry has a significant environmental impact. Reducing meat consumption – even by one meal per week – makes a difference. Some tips:

  • Designate 1-2 days per week as meatless.

  • Choose plant-based proteins like beans, lentils and tofu in place of meat.

  • When you do eat meat, choose sustainably raised, grass-fed options.

Cutting down on meat is an easy step with a big impact. Plus, plant-based meals are delicious!

3. Switch to Green Cleaning Products

Harsh chemicals found in many conventional cleaning products are harmful to the environment. Eco-friendly alternatives get the job done without the toxins.

Look for products certified by:

  • EcoLogo – verifies products meet environmental standards

  • GreenSeal – scientifically tests products for sustainability

  • EPA Safer Choice – ensures ingredients are safe for people and the environment

Making your own cleaners is another green option. Simple combinations like baking soda, vinegar and lemon work great.

4. Use Reusable Shopping Bags

Plastic bags are hugely wasteful and end up polluting our oceans and landfills. Bringing reusable bags eliminates this waste.

Some tips for making the switch:

  • Keep reusable bags by the door so you don’t forget them

  • Store folded bags in your purse, backpack or car

  • Use reusable produce bags for loose fruits, veggies and bulk items

Bonus: many stores now offer credits or discounts when you BYOB (bring your own bag)!

5. Recycle and Compost Properly

Recycling and composting keeps waste out of landfills and gives materials a second life. Make sure you’re doing it properly:

  • Check local guidelines on what can be recycled and composted

  • Avoid “wishcycling” – only recycle approved items

  • Rinse containers to avoid contaminating recyclables

  • Separate paper, plastic, glass, metal into designated bins

  • For compost, use BPI-certified compostable bags or paper bags only

Taking a little time to recycle and compost correctly keeps tons of waste out of landfills.

6. Switch to Online Billing and Paperless Statements

Going paperless eliminates waste from unwanted junk mail, letters, bills and statements. It also saves trees! Here’s how to make the switch:

  • For each account, log in and update preferences to go paperless

  • Set up online billing to receive statements digitally

  • Opt out of junk mail lists to reduce unwanted mail

  • Unsubscribe from print magazines and catalogs in favor of digital

Say goodbye to clutter and unnecessary paper. Managing bills and statements online makes life easier too!

7. Use Reusable Everything – Bottles, Straws, Bags and More

Single-use plastics like bottles, straws, sandwich bags and coffee cups generate tons of waste. Carrying reusable versions eliminates this.

Items to swap:

  • Water bottle – reusable stainless steel or glass

  • Coffee mug – carry a portable one

  • Straws – glass, stainless steel or bamboo

  • Sandwich/snack bags – beeswax wrap or reusable containers

Look for reusable swaps for any disposable plastic items you use frequently. This simple change makes a huge impact.

8. Choose Conscious Brands

Support brands that prioritize sustainability and ethical practices. Some things to look for:

  • B Corps – certified for high environmental and social standards

  • Organic materials like cotton, hemp, bamboo

  • Natural dyes and non-toxic production methods

  • Fair trade and ethical working conditions

  • Sustainable business practices like using renewable energy

Conscious consumption supports positive change. Do some research to find brands that align with your values.

9. Conserve Water

Small changes in your home and habits can drastically reduce water usage:

  • Take shorter showers

  • Turn off water when brushing teeth or shaving

  • Run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine

  • Water plants selectively – don’t overwater

  • Fix leaks promptly – they waste hundreds of gallons

  • Install low-flow faucets and showerheads

With some minor adjustments, you can save this precious resource.

10. Choose Rechargeable Batteries

Americans throw away 3 billion batteries a year, releasing toxic chemicals into the environment. Rechargeable batteries are a reusable, non-toxic alternative.

Some tips for making the switch:

  • Use rechargeable AA and AAA batteries for electronics

  • Invest in rechargeable lithium batteries for devices like electric toothbrushes

  • Purchase a battery charger to reuse batteries hundreds of times

  • Recycle old single-use batteries if necessary

Going rechargeable saves money and eliminates hazardous battery waste. A simple change that’s easy on the wallet and the planet!

Making more sustainable choices doesn’t require completely overhauling your lifestyle. Start with small steps like these that work for your life. The collective impact of many people making simple changes leads to big results for the environment.