Eleven Easy Ways to Live Sustainably

If saving the planet is on your list of things to do, you’re not alone. Recycling is pretty much second nature for everyone, reusable bags are a necessity (especially in California), and stainless steel bottles are functional accessories. As we learn more about how our actions affect our environment, we realize there is so much more we can do.

We’ve collected some of our favorite ways to create sustainable lives, all of which take little effort on our parts, but make a huge difference in our environment.

IN YOUR HOME

  1. Conserve water. In addition to shortening your shower times and turning off the faucet while you wash your hands, you can also conserve water while you cook. Next time you steam vegetables, cook pasta or boil potatoes, reserve the water, let it cool down completely, and use it to water your plants.

  2. Recycle. There is more to recycling than separating your aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and paper from your trash.You can also recycle items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, snack wrappers, and detergent bottles through TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling hard-to-recycle waste.

  3. Install a rain barrel. According to The Ecology Center, one inch of rainfall falling on a 1,000 square foot roof produces 600 gallons of runoff water. This much harvested rain water can go a long way when it comes to watering plants, scrubbing produce, and cleaning stainless steel appliances and fixtures. Rain barrels can be purchased in different shapes, sizes and styles at your local hardware store.

  4. Composting. By recycling food scraps, wilted flowers and other organic materials, you are able to create compost (decomposed matter) that is used to create healthier soil for your garden. Some households have large compost bins for this task, but if you have limited space, you can use a five-gallon bucket. For detailed composting information, check out Home Composting Made Easy’s site.

IN THE OFFICE

  1. Reuse your printer paper. Every year, Americans use 85 millions tons of paper products. One way to cut down on the amount of paper used is to reuse it. You can collect drafts, misprints and duplicate print outs that you would normally recycle and run them through your printer one more time.

  2. Purchase responsibly. When possible, purchase recycled office supplies and energy efficient equipment. This can range from printer paper and business cards made with recycled materials, Energy Star-rated copy machines, and LED lighting.

  3. Recycle. Did you know that you can recycle fax machines, printers and other office equipment? Instead of throwing these items in the trash, find a recycling center near you that accepts these items. Recycle Nation has a great search tool on their website that provides recycling information based on the item and your location. You can also recycle ink cartridges at your local Best Buy and STAPLES store.

  4. Go Paperless. Whether you are a large corporation or a solo-preneur, there are so many ways to create a paperless work environment. From tools such as Docusign which allows users to electronically sign documents and contracts, to cloud-based storage like Dropbox, there are digital solutions that can help you cut down on the amount of paper you use everyday. Although the paperless transition doesn’t happen overnight, it’s certainly not impossible. For helpful tips, check out eFileCabinet’s article on going paperless.

WITH FRIENDS

  1. Clothing Swap. According to the EPA, 84 percent of unwanted clothing end up in either a landfill or an incinerator. If you choose not to donate your clothes, then you should consider hosting a clothing swap. Clothing swaps are great opportunities to trade items with friends and can be a lot of fun, too!

  2. Children’s Item Swap. This is especially resourceful for parents to save money on baby clothes, toys, furniture and gear. As long as the children are in different age groups, parents can be sure to find items that they will need in the future while also letting go of items their child has outgrown.

  3. Household Swap. While that panini press seemed like a wonderful idea when you purchased it 10 years ago, it might not be getting as much use as you’d like. Instead of throwing it away, host an appliance swap and regift in the best way possible. Other items you can swap include large and small electronics, decor, and servingware.

P.S. Being environmentally conscience is something we all can do every single day and in all parts of our life. What are you favorite tips for living sustainably?