How To Practice Sustainability At Home: A Step By Step Guide
When it comes to sustainability, we can all take steps in our day-to-day lives that make a real, positive impact. Considering the state of our environment and the direction we are headed as a society, everything can feel a bit overwhelming at times. Finding a starting point can be difficult but rest assured we got your back!
The truth is that any changes are significantly better than no changes at all. So even if you cannot commit to a 100 percent sustainable lifestyle, you can make a big difference by altering parts of your life to be more sustainable. Achieving complete home sustainability will not necessarily happen all at once. Instead, it can be helpful to set a few goals at the beginning and then build up. Before you know it you will have adopted many life changing sustainable habits.
Some people find it helpful to go room by room or consider the many routines they go about during their days. By doing this, it becomes much simpler to consider our environmental footprint from our homes. If you start by immediately changing how your entire home operates, it can be easy to burn out or get frustrated.
Becoming totally sustainable will not happen overnight, and that is okay. Remember that some changes are better than no changes, and you are forming a sturdy foundation to build upon later.
What Is Sustainability at Home?
The journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle undoubtedly starts at home. For many of us, it is where we spend the majority of our time. Home is where we feel the most comfortable and go about the majority of our daily routines. As a result of this, our homes are also where we engage in activities that negatively impact the environment, adding to the devastating effects of climate change.
As we mentioned earlier, sustainability does not have to be an all-or-nothing game. Even small changes are helpful and can be easily added to later on. Achieving sustainability at home is about identifying the areas of your routine that could be altered to be more environmentally friendly.
Whether this is eliminating or drastically cutting down on single-use plastics throughout your home, limiting water usage (more on that later), and turning off the lights when you leave the room, there are so many ways we can all help out.
Before we get into some more concrete examples of practicing sustainability at home, let’s establish what sustainability is.
What Are the Four Types of Sustainability?
It can be helpful to think about sustainability in a few different ways. By breaking down the admittedly broad subject into four pillars, we can have a fully-fledged view of what sustainability could mean for many different facets of our lives. The four pillars of sustainability each focus on a different aspect of life, and they are as follows:
What Are Some Examples of Sustainable Living?
We will get into some more concrete ways to live a fulfilling, sustainable life later in this article, but it is always worth remembering that many of the core tenets of sustainability can be boiled down to one catchy phrase. You have likely heard of it before, but that in no way decreases how relevant and important it is.
Always be sure to “reduce, reuse, recycle” whenever possible. If you really adopt all three of these methodologies into your life, you will be shocked by just how much real and tangible change is made. In some cases, it can be helpful to go step-by-step to get as thorough an understanding of these terms as possible.
This can apply to essentially anything you buy, make, or use when it comes to reducing. Before purchasing a product, truly consider whether or not you really need it. Would it actually improve your life? Could that same product be better served to help someone else? Having material items just for the sake of having them does not make you happier, and it certainly does not help the environment. We can get pulled into cycles of buying, thinking that we need certain items to function or be happy. By asking yourself these critical questions, you will reduce waste and spending.
In fact, the unnecessary usage and purchasing of products put undue strain on the supply chain. This results in the burning of more fossil fuels, the emission of more greenhouse gases, the wasting of more materials, and a significantly worse environmental footprint.
If we had instead just taken the time to be mindful about what we truly need, and save resources for those who truly need them, so much of this damage could be easily avoided.
The next step is, of course, the ever-important practice of reusing. If you look around at what you currently own, the chances are that much of it could be utilized more than it currently is today, or in a new and exciting way.
For instance, old pieces of furniture can be repainted or stained to be made new. Clothes that have not been worn since the 70s are possibly back in style or can be upcycled and made into gorgeous new outfits.
And last but definitely not least, recycling.
Once a product has finally reached the end of its natural life cycle and cannot realistically be used for any new or different purpose, it is time to dispose of it. It is essential that this product is disposed of in an ethical and environmentally friendly way.
Otherwise, it will likely end up in a landfill or the ocean, both of which are already horribly overcrowded. This is where recycling and using a compost bin come in very handy for both you and the environment.
What Does Sustainable Living Include?
As we had touched on previously, sustainable living essentially means living your life in a mindful way. Much of the pollution and waste that comes from our everyday activities directly results from not being aware of the consequences of our actions. If we were simply more mindful and conscious of our actions’ sustainability is almost sure to follow.
Once you are aware of the ways your life could be made more sustainable, it is time to put those plans into action. Self-awareness is certainly the first step, but it is far from the last. Even if you just put a few of these suggestions into your daily routine, know that they will add up to make a real difference.
So, How Do You Start a Sustainable Lifestyle?
Once you have identified the areas in your life and routines that can be changed to greatly help the planet, it is time to start the real work. Many of these suggestions come in two parts.
First, they recommend a heightened sense of awareness surrounding how you live your day-to-day life. Then, they advocate for a new way of doing things.
Take a Look at Your Diet
It often goes unrecognized that our diets and what we eat can tremendously influence how much damage we do to the environment. Eating meat can have a devastating effect on the planet, and there are a few reasons behind this.
For one, livestock takes significantly more water, land, and resources to care for than crops. Other wildlife is then put in jeopardy because their natural habitat has been taken away. In addition, the crops we could otherwise be eating are used instead as the animals’ food. Livestock also produces much more methane and harmful greenhouse gases than other forms of farming.
You do not have to go entirely vegan right away, but embracing meatless Mondays or committing to eating a meat-free meal per day can make a big difference. Luckily there are countless vegan products on the market and fast food chains are continuing to develop plant based versions of classic favorites.
Watch Out for Water Usage
We regularly waste gallons of water on hot water, tap water, inefficient showerheads, and more. It takes water heaters a substantial amount of energy to successfully heat the whole tank. Be sure to fix any leaky faucet, showerhead, or malfunctioning toilet. Additionally, cut a minute or so off of your showers. You can still get squeaky clean without overusing water.
Water is one of our most precious natural resources, and its overuse could lead us to a devastating drought. Cutting down on our water consumption is a great way to make a real difference.
To keep the cost down on air conditioning, make sure any gaps in your home are patched and covered with window treatments and insulation. Be sure to turn your air conditioning off when you are not at home as well to save energy.
Opt for Reusable Products
As we mentioned before, reusing is an integral part of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Instead of paper towels, reach for convenient rags that can be washed and used again. Instead of buying countless disposable batteries, opt for rechargeable batteries and energy-efficient appliances.
Check Out Renewable Energy Sources
Investing in a renewable energy source is great for your electric bill, energy supplier, and the environment. Look into installing solar panels on your home. Chances are, the installation is much simpler than you think.
Instead of using countless light bulbs, try a zero-waste alternative like investing in curtains and blinds; that way, you can let some light in when it's needed.
Go Green by Growing a Garden
Growing your own garden and landscaping is a hobby that is as rewarding as it is environmentally conscious. To take your gardening to the next level, consider starting a home compost. Then, instead of throwing things like food scraps into the trash, they can be put to much better use by strengthening your crops and flowers.
What Is the Most Effective Way We Can Live Sustainably?
The most effective way for each of us to live sustainability is going to vary from person to person. If you use more water than others, try to cut it down. If you are a constant meat-eater, maybe you would be best off eating more plant-based options. Consider what your habits are and how they can be best tailored to help the environment.