It’s easy to get fired up when you hear someone preaching the sustainability gospel. The thought of making a difference by committing to cleaner living is invigorating! Then you try to apply it to your everyday life. You realize some aspects of living more sustainably aren’t as easy as others to implement.
A modern lifestyle centers around convenience. It can be difficult to break free from wasteful mindsets in order to properly embrace a sustainable lifestyle.
Easy ways to start living more sustainably
If you can relate, here are a few small yet effective ways to begin making the shift from convenience to sustainability when making decisions on a daily basis.
Don’t Lose It, Reuse It
In the oft-heard (especially for those with young children) words of Paw Patrol’s resident recycler, Rocky, “don’t lose it, reuse it!” The concept of using and repurposing things is integral to a sustainable lifestyle.
This can apply to clothing, tools, toys, and most material objects. If something breaks or wears out, consider how you can find a new purpose for it rather than simply throwing it away.
Cut Down on Quantity
Another way to live sustainably: consider your quantities. Do you really need five two-liter soda bottles for a party? Perhaps make a pitcher of iced tea and a pitcher of ice-cold water is sufficient.
Whatever the situation, look for ways to reduce quantities, especially when it comes to environmentally unfriendly purchases.
Look for Labels
When shopping, look for labels that indicate sustainability.
The UTZ label, for example, indicates sustainable farming. The Fair Trade icon shows the condition of the workers was considered in the manufacturing process. The Rainforest Alliance certification means the producer complied with a variety of environmental and humanitarian standards when growing or manufacturing their products.
Learning and shopping labels is a great way to shift your thinking in a more sustainable direction.
Grow a Garden
You don’t need to live on a sprawling homestead to start growing your own food. Urban and suburban gardening is all the rage these days. It’s absolutely possible to grow a garden no matter the living situation. Whatever space you have to work with, you can typically manage to at least grow small items like herbs and chili plants.
If you can get a decent plot in the ground you can even upgrade to square foot gardening or a similar technique to maximize your garden’s productivity.
Consider Your Clothing
There are a few different ways to incorporate a sustainable mindset into your clothing choices. First, consider looking for clothing manufactured with a form of sustainable fashion.
In addition, try to do your best to utilize the clothes you have without constantly turning over your wardrobe. For instance, consider creating a capsule wardrobe in order to maximize the clothing you have. You can also commit to a year-long clothing challenge in which you don’t purchase new clothing and make the best of what you have.
Give Quality Gifts
When Christmas time or birthdays roll around, it’s tempting to drop a chunk of change on:
- a cheap plastic toy
- tech gadget
- fast fashion piece of clothing
- other inexpensive gifts
None of the above will last more than a month, or two.
If you’re looking to incorporate more thoughtfulness into your life, consider investing in fewer, higher-quality gifts. If you throw a birthday party for your child, for instance, don’t fill a bunch of plastic bags with junk as party favors. Seek out quality items like:
- coloring books
- colored pencils
- card games
- gift cards
Gifts like these provide value and won’t be thrown away as quickly.
Motivate with Minimalism
Minimalism isn’t simply “doing without.” Minimalism is a lifestyle focused on finding the value in everything around you. If something doesn’t provide genuine value for you, it isn’t necessary. Adopting a minimalist mindset can help you avoid wasteful purchases of all shapes and sizes, simply ask yourself what kind of value something will give you before you purchase it.
For example, before investing in a room’s decor, take an interior design style quiz to figure out your decorating focus. Then only make purchases that reinforce it. That way money won’t be wasted and decor won’t be thrown away a few weeks after you purchase it.
Ward Off Waste
Finally, look for ways to eliminate wastefulness from your existing lifestyle.
For instance, evaluate your home and look for environmentally friendly upgrades that won’t break the bank — and that won’t create a lot of waste when being implemented either. Consider upgrading any old toilets or water fixtures to preserve water. You can also purchase affordable replacement windows to cut down on heat and cold air lost during periods of extreme temperatures.
Shifting Towards the Sustainable
While it may sound intimidating to adopt a full-blown sustainable lifestyle, there are many ways to initiate the shift without completely upending the existing status-quo. Little changes like adopting a minimalist mindset, shopping sustainably, and growing some of your own food can all help you slowly inch your way towards a more thoughtful and, by extension, a more rewarding life.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can check out more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek