33 Tips for Sustainable Living

Sustainable or eco-friendly living practices are an important step towards a healthy, low-impact lifestyle. If you follow these 33 sustainability tips, you will significantly lower the impact that you and your family have on the planet, while also building your self-reliance as humans of the modern age. Remember: these steps are a starting point, not the end-all be-all to living a low impact lifestyle!


1. Cut back or eliminate meat products from your diet.

2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef. VIA Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret


2. Cut back or eliminate fish from your diet (even the ‘sustainably sourced’ ones.)

3. When in doubt, recycle! Separate your recycling from your waste and cut back on the amount of waste you send to landfill.

4. Install low-flow showerheads and faucets in your home; save water and money!

5. Give your car a break. Take your bike to work one day a week. Then two. Build up your endurance and reduce your emissions.

6. Volunteer to drive your grocers food waste to nearby soup kitchens; help the hungry and reduce food waste in landfills.

7. Reusable, only. Bring your reusable thermos to Starbucks. Bring your reusable water bottle to the gym and to work. Avoid plastic single-use cups.


8. Bring your own silverware. Eliminate convenience items from your life. Wash a fork.

Plastic silverware is often too small to be recycled at large recycling plants, therefore they will most likely end up in a landfill, in the ocean or littering the sidewalks of the streets in neighborhoods around the globe. If you have the options to use/bring/wash metal or reusable silverware, then you should take it!


9. Donate your unwanted, usable goods to thrift stores.

10. Fight fashion. What’s new and trendy is ultimately what’s tomorrow’s waste.

11. Stop using paper towels. Seriously, just air dry or use your shirt.

12. Invested in reusable K-Cup containers. Do not buy disposable K-Cups. Please.

13. No more bottled water. You just don’t need it. Invest in a Nalgene. Plus, you pay 1000% more for bottled water than the water that comes out of your tap.

14. Refuse the crazy packaging of food. While things like strawberries may need some form of a container, why must it be plastic? At the grocery store, there’s no need to plastic-bag single items of produce: just stick the price sticker (if you need one) on the produce itself.


15. Get your 5Rs right:

1. Refuse what you do not need, 2. Reduce what you do need, 3. Reuse what you consume, 4. Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and 5. Rot (Compost) the rest.


16. Welcome alternatives over disposables! Swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich baggies for kitchen towels or stainless containers, drop garbage liners all together (wet waste is mostly compostable anyways).

17. Buy in bulk or at the counter (see Zero Waste Grocery Shopping), bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner).


18. If you can’t find it in bulk, empower yourself and learn how to make it!

Buying in bulk reduces the risk of packaging waste because you can bring your own reusable container.


19. Shop the farmer’s market: they’ll take the egg carton and the berries baskets back for reuse. Your veggies will also most likely be free of plastic and stickers.

20. Turn your large trashcan into a big compost bin. Use your a tiny trash can for waste that cannot be recycled or composted.

21. Reinvent your leftovers before they go bad. Go through your recipe binder/box and only keep the recipes that can be achieved with zero waste in mind.

22. Switch to paperless e-billing and tell the solicitors to lose your address.

23. Paper wrapped plastic straws? Takeaway cups? Individual condiment, sugar, salt and pepper packages? Plastic bags? Plastic forks, knives, spoons, or chopsticks, usually individually wrapped? Um, no thanks!

24. Plan your meals and bring a shopping list with you each time you visit the supermarket, and stick with it. You’re less likely to buy on impulse, thus superfluous purchases are reduced, and money is saved too!


25. Declutter your home and donate what you really don’t use to a local charity. 

The less that’s in your home, the more you think about what really matters, and what’s really useful.


26. Are any of your clothes totally unwearable, or even unpresentable for charity donations? Rip them up and clean the house with the rags.

27. Invest in CFL’s. If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

28. Recycle your Glass packaging. Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose.


29. Choose matches over lighters. 

Most lighters are made out of plastic and filled with butane fuel, both petroleum products. Since most lighters are considered “disposable,” over 1.5 billion end up in landfills each year. When choosing matches, pick cardboard over wood. Wood matches come from trees, whereas most cardboard matches are made from recycled paper.


30. Pay bills online. By some estimates, if all households in the U.S. paid their bills online and received electronic statements instead of paper, we’d save 18.5 million trees every year, 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and 1.7 billion pounds of solid waste.

31. Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.


32. Ask yourself the one question that manufacturers don’t want you to ask: “Do I even need this?”


33. SHARE! Take what you’ve learned, and pass the knowledge on to others. If every person you know could take one small step toward being greener, the collective effort could be phenomenal.


For more information on what you can do to lower your impact and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, visit the Humans for a Sustainable Future website.