For some people, living an eco friendly lifestyle may seem daunting or out of reach, and many would think of it in economic terms. Organic costs more, natural fibers cost more, installing solar has a big upfront cost/im renting and can’t make modifications, etc. My belief is that any change toward a more conscious lifestyle is better than none, and small things can still make a difference.
Here’s some ways you can be more environmentally conscious which are free, low cost or can save you money on things you already purchase.
- Walk or ride a bicycle when possible
- Use your car efficiently, group errands by location so you’re not going back and forth between destinations
- Use public transport when possible
- Pick up rubbish when you see it and put it in the bin
- make your own washing powder (its cheaper than buying brands)
- Minimize your bath and body products, and avoid products containing microbeads (plastic beads often put in cleansers for exfoliation). Buy bar soaps instead of body wash.
- Use organic gardening methods rather than pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers.
- Use environmentally friendly dish washing liquids, detergents and cleaning products (its best to make your own)
- Remember to bring your reusable bags to the grocery store (keep some in the car or by the door), and get ones made of hessian rather than plastic
- Don’t use plastic produce bags when possible, fruits like banana and avocado don’t require them. You can also make your own reusable ones out of plastic netting (like oranges sometimes come in) or other scrap materials you have around (old muslin baby swaddles work great, sew up 3 sides and make a drawstring). You can also put some with your reusable bags so you’re not always getting new ones.
- Return soft plastics to the supermarket so they can be recycled
- make sure recyclable items go into the recycle bin.
- re purpose, reuse and make use of what you already have before buying new things
- Reuse glass jars and plastic containers as much as possible before disposal.
- Get a “no junk mail” sticker for your letterbox
- Buy reusable items whenever possible (handkerchiefs, linen napkins, reusable cloths, linen table cloths instead of disposable plastic etc). Check out the benefits of cloth diapers and learn how to make homemade baby wipes.
- Avoid takeaway food and anything with excessive packaging
- Bring your own coffee cup to cafes (they often give discounts for doing so). Coles sells ceramic, reusable coffee cups with silicon lids for $4
- Compost (if you have space) or use curbside compost (if available)
- Recycle (should always be done after reusing an item as much as possible or if composting options are not available)
- Make use of return and earn schemes or pass your bottles on to someone who does (some homeless collect the bottles to earn some money, or you might have a classmate or colleague who uses the system – ask around if 10c per bottle isn’t worth your time/effort).
- Go paperless (also reduces needless clutter)
- Get a resource recovery bag from your local library (Australia) for recycling items like batteries, printer cartridges, medical films (x-ray etc), glasses and electronics and follow the instructions for disposal of the bag (usually seal and place in recycle bin when filled).
- Recycle your old handset by using the recycle bag usually provided with new phone purchases.
- Use battery collection depots to recycle old batteries (usually found at hardware stores)
- Shop less
- Avoid packaged foods and use fresh produce
- Buy meat from a butcher (avoid plastic/foam packaging, blood absorbents etc)
- Buy locally (food grown locally and products produced locally, or at least not imported)
- Grow your own herbs, berries or make a veggie garden (if you have space)
- Buy less stuff (in general, but especially plastics and synthetic items that don’t break down)
- Buy second hand (save an item from landfill, and don’t give your money to corporations manufacturing more stuff)
- Reduce food waste by preserving food correctly, freezing foods or making pickles.
- Make a plan for your leftovers.
- Be mindful of the end-waste your purchases generate and look for better options
- Consume minimal meat and animal products
- Support local grocers and businesses before chain stores (they are often cheaper too)
- Be mindful about your purchases and how you let go of your belongings.
Changing the culture
- Educate your children on the environmental impacts of human consumption and waste
- Teach yourself and your kids to cook and garden
- Teach them empathy and respect for all living things, and our planet
- Consume meat minimally (it’s also better for your health)
- Adopt a less-is-more mindset (the less things you have, the more you can enjoy your possessions)
- Give experiences instead of things