How to Live With Less and Reduce Your Environmental Impact

How to Live With Less and Reduce Your Environmental Impact

How to Live With Less and Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Living with less and reducing your environmental impact is an important goal for many people. Here are some ideas on how to get started:

Reduce Consumption

Reducing consumption is one of the most impactful ways to live with less. Here are some tips:

Buy Less Stuff

  • Before making any purchase, ask yourself if you really need the item. Avoid impulse buys and purchases for temporary happiness.
  • Go on periodic spending fasts – commit to not buying anything non-essential for a set period of time.
  • Unsubscribe from marketing emails and avoid browsing shopping websites to reduce temptation.
  • Shop secondhand whenever possible. ** Thrift stores**, garage sales, Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace are great options.

Borrow and Share More

  • Borrow tools, appliances, books, and other items from friends, family, neighbors, or your local library instead of buying new.
  • Host a clothing swap or neighborhood sharing day to circulate used goods.
  • Join a tool library or maker space to share access to pricier items.

Maintain and Repair

  • Learn basic mending skills to extend the life of your clothes.
  • Fix broken items when possible instead of replacing them. Look up DIY tutorials online.
  • Bring shoes to a cobbler for new soles, have clothes tailored, or sharpen kitchen knives to revive them.


  • Go through your belongings regularly and donate, recycle, or sell anything you no longer need.
  • Adopt a “one in, one out” policy – only bring in new items after removing an equal amount.
  • Avoid storing unused items “just in case.” If you haven’t needed it in over a year, you probably never will.

Reduce Waste

Cutting down on waste is another key way to lower your environmental impact. Ideas include:

Refuse Single-Use Items

  • Carry a reusable water bottle, coffee mug, utensils, straw, and container. Politely refuse disposables when offered.
  • Bring your own to-go container for restaurant leftovers instead of using styrofoam.
  • Avoid products with excess packaging. Choose loose produce instead of pre-packaged when possible.

Compost Food Scraps

  • Compost fruit and vegetable peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and more to divert waste from landfills. Many cities offer curbside compost pickup.
  • Use composted soil to grow your own food and reduce packaging associated with store produce.

Recycle and Donate

  • Recycle all accepted materials like paper, cardboard, glass, metals, and plastics. Check local rules on what can be recycled.
  • Donate used furniture, household goods, electronics, and clothing instead of trashing them.

Limit Food Waste

  • Plan meals based on what needs to be used up and buy only what you’ll eat.
  • Freeze, preserve, or repurpose leftovers. Stale bread can become croutons or breadcrumbs.
  • Understand expiration dates – “sell by” is not the same as “unsafe to eat after.” Use sight and smell to determine if food is still good.

Conserve Energy and Resources

Being mindful of your energy and resource consumption also reduces your environmental footprint. Ways to conserve include:

Use Less Hot Water

  • Take shorter showers and turn off water while lathering up and brushing teeth.
  • Wash clothes in cold water cycles whenever possible.
  • Repair leaky faucets and install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

Upgrade Lightbulbs

  • Switch indoor and outdoor lighting to LED bulbs. They use less energy and last much longer.
  • Use natural light whenever possible and turn lights off when leaving a room.

Adjust Thermostat

  • During heating season, set thermostat to 68°F or less. Wear extra layers instead of turning up heat.
  • In summer, set to 78°F or higher and use fans to stay cool. Close blinds to keep out heat.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temperature when away.

Unplug Devices

  • Unplug electronics like TVs, laptop chargers, and small appliances when not in use. They draw energy even when off.
  • Use power strips to easily turn off multiple devices at once.

Making mindful, eco-conscious choices in your daily life really does make a meaningful difference. Start with small, attainable steps you can stick with long-term. The more sustainable living becomes habit, the easier it will feel. Our planet will thank you!