Going green doesn’t have to involve drastic lifestyle changes. Here are 7 unconventional ways I have found to adopt eco-friendly habits without overhauling my routine:
1. Use Reusable Grocery Bags
Plastic bags are terrible for the environment. Many end up in landfills and oceans where they take hundreds of years to decompose. A simple switch is to use reusable grocery bags.
I keep a stash of canvas tote bags in my car so I never leave the store without them. It took a bit to build the habit, but now I rarely need plastic bags. This small change easily avoids dozens of single-use plastics each month.
2. Skip the Straw
Americans use over 500 million plastic straws every day. Most get tossed after one use. To reduce my plastic waste, I started saying no to straws at restaurants.
Unless I’m getting a specialty drink that really needs a straw, I go without. This skips the straw waste altogether. It’s a simple change that led me to cut my straw usage by 75% or more.
3. Buy Used
Shopping at thrift stores is an easy way to go green. When I buy used clothing or furniture, I save those items from the landfill and reduce waste. Vintage shops are another great option for unique secondhand finds.
Beyond waste reduction, used goods often have lower carbon footprints than new items. I furnish nearly my entire apartment with used finds, which saves money too!
4. Unplug Devices
Even when powered off, electronic devices draw energy if left plugged in. The term for this is “phantom load.” Televisions, phone chargers, and other gadgets waste substantial electricity through phantom loads.
I combat this by unplugging devices when not in use. It takes mere seconds but saves a noticeable amount of energy. I even switch off power strips to cut phantom loads from multiple appliances at once.
5. Reduce Food Waste
Upwards of 40% of food in the US goes uneaten and gets tossed. All that waste has major environmental impacts. So I started being more mindful about reducing my food waste.
I plan meals around what needs to be used up. I freeze or repurpose leftovers instead of throwing them out. Composting food scraps is another green alternative to sending waste to the landfill. Small efforts add up to major reductions in garbage.
6. Switch to LED Light Bulbs
Incandescent bulbs are extremely inefficient – over 90% of their energy usage turns into heat rather than light. LED bulbs last longer and use a fraction of the electricity.
I swapped all my bulbs for LEDs. The upfront cost was higher but LEDs last for years. My electricity bill went down noticeably after the switch. The long lifespan also avoids the waste of frequently replacing burnt out bulbs.
7. Have a Meatless Monday
Animal agriculture generates enormous greenhouse gas emissions. So I started eating plant-based one day a week to lower my carbon footprint.
Going meatless on Mondays got easier over time. I discovered new vegetarian recipes I loved. Eating less meat even once a week makes a significant environmental impact when practiced regularly.
Small, painless steps can lead to meaningful sustainability gains. I was able to go green without drastic lifestyle changes by:
- Using reusable grocery bags
- Skipping straws
- Buying used goods
- Unplugging devices
- Reducing food waste
- Switching to LED lighting
- Having a weekly Meatless Monday
The key is turning these eco-friendly behaviors into habits over time. The collective benefit of multiple small actions can drive real progress. What unconventional tips do you have for going green without big changes?