Organic foods and hybrid cars are more expensive than their conventional counterparts when it comes to sustainable living. Still, there are many less expensive ways to reduce your waste output and carbon footprint (or the amount of greenhouse gas emissions—which are large contributors to climate change occur as a result of your activities and purchases).

In many ways, the environmental movement is about simplifying our lives, cutting out middlemen, thinking economically, and being more hands-on—and that usually means more money in your pocket.

However, we’re all becoming more conscious of the need to be environmentally conscious, and many of us now do the basics, such as recycling trash, without giving it much thought. Looking at the big picture, there are many different ways – some big, some small – that will help us all become much more aware of our surroundings and encourage a more sustainable way of life.

Here are some ideas you can jumpstart sustainable living:

Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs

Although energy-saving light bulbs have been around for a while, it is only in the last few years that the general public has become more knowledgeable about their efficiency and performance and how they can save money around the house.

There have been complaints in the past that they simply do not produce enough light or that they take a long time to properly illuminate a room. Technology advancements are occurring all the time, and now is a better time than ever to make the switch. They not only use less electricity, but they also do not need to be replaced as frequently as traditional light bulbs.

Cut Down on Plastic

Plastic will never disappear. Today, billions of pounds of it can be found in the swirling convergences that make up roughly 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. Thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic.

You can start reducing your plastic waste by using reusable shopping bags, avoiding single-use water bottles, bags, and straws, and avoiding items manufactured from or packaged in plastic whenever possible (e.g., select unwrapped produce at the grocery store, shop local, cut down on online shopping).

Use Less Paper Towels

You don’t have to give up paper towels entirely, but you should use them sparingly. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) compared the seven most common methods for drying hands and discovered that using paper towels produces 70% more carbon emissions than cold air-driven hand dryers.

If you don’t have a hand dryer, a cotton towel is 48% more environmentally friendly than a paper towel. Rather than buying a dozen rolls of paper towels, cut up an old t-shirt and use it as a rag.

If you’re going to throw it away anyway, why not save some money and the environment at the same time? Gather all of your used rags in a single basket and wash them all at once.

Buy Secondhand Furniture

Don’t go to a big-name furniture store looking for the latest and greatest! More and more furniture is being introduced to the market that is made from recycled wood or other materials, which can be more environmentally friendly than purchasing new. You’re still getting a brand-new product, but it’s been made with care, using materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill or be thrown away.

For larger pieces of furniture that you need to buy, you can look to auction sites or auction houses. Older, preloved items can often provide years of good wear to a family and may only require minor maintenance. It’s also a lot more enjoyable to look for antiques than to trudge around a large department store!

Lessen Food Waste

Did you know that each year, one-third of the world’s total food production is wasted? The majority of this waste occurs during the manufacturing and transportation processes, but consumers waste a significant portion.

Reassess what’s in your fridge and pantry on a regular basis, and donate anything you don’t intend to eat to a food bank. Then, for a few days, commit to only cooking with what you have on hand. When you don’t have much left, it’s time to go shopping! Make a list of the meals you want to prepare for the coming week, note down what you need to buy to prepare them, and stick to it while shopping. You will refrain from making impulse purchases of food you will not consume.

Key Takeaway

The state of our planet has changed dramatically in recent decades. Economic and demographic development, as well as growing demand for natural resources, have come at the expense of the environment.

Fortunately, an increasing number of people have become aware of the impact humans have on the environment and have begun to act accordingly, incorporating greener habits into their lives.

Sustainable living does not have to be difficult. Taking steps to live more sustainably can be simple. It only takes will instead of laziness and action instead of inaction.

We can all do something, no matter how small. Every action we take to help the environment has a positive impact, and it matters.