Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Living a sustainable existence can be a tricky thing. Where do you start? What kind of products do you buy?
Implementing sustainable practices into your daily life shouldn’t seem like a test you’re bound to fail. It’s a process that can’t be done in a day, but hopefully these 4 tips will get you on the right path.
4. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
When energy saving sources hit the market big in the 2000s, energy efficient light bulbs were a staple of commercials and how-to articles.
Energy efficient light bulb energy use reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. The two main types are CFL and LED.
CFL’s have an inside coating that allows more light to be emitted. They’re cheaper than the standard LED bulb (pictured above), but there are downsides.
Because CFL bulbs contain chemicals like mercury, they need to be disposed of separately from other waste. The EPA recommends taking them to qualified recyclers or Home Depot, who will dispose of them for free.
LED bulbs use light-emitting diodes as their source and can be more costly, but they can last longer than a CFL (up to 20 years). There are pros and cons to both, so it really comes down to what you want to get out of your light bulb and what you feel best using.
3. Make Your Own Household Cleaners
Cleaning products you get off the shelf can contain thousands of different chemical ingredients, and possess powerful fragrances like pine or citrus.
Making your own cleaner cuts out those unnecessary toxins by using substitutes like white and apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner, and dish detergent can all be made using these common kitchen products.
Having these staple products that are common in DIY cleaners will end up saving you money in the long run. It will also greatly cut down your plastic consumption when using reusable spray bottles.
One Green Planet has an extensive DIY guide with ingredients for a wide range of cleaners to help get you started.
2. Repurpose Glass Jars as Food Storage
A lot of people choose to store items like cereal and smaller snacks in glass containers more for aesthetic reasons, but it's still beneficial to the environment in terms of reducing plastic use.
Tupperware and other take out containers are clunky and can overwhelm your pantry, but they can also affect your food.
Reheating food in plastic containers will leech the chemicals to the food overtime, and stains and smell can linger. Glass won’t absorb stains or smell, and helps keep food fresh for longer thanks to its glossy surface.
You can repurpose glass items found in your home, search for jars when thrifting, or buy off the internet to create your new storage system.
1. Use Cloth Napkins
Replacing your paper towel supply with cloth napkins is a relatively simple adjustment that helps the environment and your wallet.
Ocean Conservancy reported in 2012 that it would cost roughly $20 to $110 to buy five-years worth of eco-friendly cloth napkins for a family of four. Buying disposable napkins for a family of four over this time would end up costing anywhere from $320 to $2,635.
Buying your own fabric to make the napkins can also reduce the cost. And it allows you to have different patterns and colors for different occasions.
Cloth napkins are also sustainably more durable than paper towels and can better pick up spills and won’t be destroyed by kids or pets.
More than 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year in the U.S., according to Durafresh. Help reduce that number and bring some color into your life by alternating to cloth napkins.