Below, we’ve put together a guide where we outline potential tips for an individual to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
We not only list individual sustainable lifestyle tips, but also identify the key areas under which these tips might fall.
We also make the point that it might matter how ‘living a more sustainable lifestyle’ is defined.
Firstly, It Might Matter How ‘Living A More Sustainable Lifestyle’ Is Defined
Different people and different groups may define ‘living a more sustainable lifestyle’ differently.
To provide examples, different people and groups may prioritise one or multiple of the following sustainability indicator goals in their overall goal to live more sustainably:
– Managing resources more sustainably, and reducing the depletion of natural resources
– Reducing water pollution
– Reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases
– Reducing biodiversity loss
– Plus, other sustainability indicator goals
This matters because how someone interprets or defines ‘living more sustainably’ impacts the sustainability tips that someone chooses to implement in their life.
Different people and groups may value different things and choose to implement different tips.
Secondly, There Might Be Key Areas That Individual Sustainability Tips Fit Into
It might also be worth pointing out that individual sustainability lifestyle tips may fit into several key areas.
Some of those key areas might include:
– Food & Diet
– Products (Goods) & Services
With these things in mind, the following is a list of sustainability tips that may help some individuals live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Note that this list contains generalized tips, and the list and the tips themselves are not considered comprehensive, nor definitive.
Onto the list …
1. Eliminate Littering
Some people are guilty of littering at times.
Throwing food or beverage packaging waste on the ground, or throwing a cigarette on the ground, are common examples of littering.
Scrunching up a shopping receipt and throwing/dropping it on the ground may be another.
Instead, be conscious of littering, and make sure to dispose of all waste correctly in bins and other waste management locations.
2. Consider Reducing Single Use Waste
Single use waste comes from products and items that are used once (usually for a short period of time) before being disposed of.
A lot of it tends to be single use plastic waste, such as food and beverage packaging, plastic bags, plastic water bottles, plastic straws, and so on.
Some tips for reducing single use waste might be:
– Consider using reusable and washable items
Such as reusable and washable water bottles/drink bottles, instead of disposable plastic bottles
– Consider using other reusable items
Such as reusable shopping bags, instead of disposable plastic bags (although, an increasing number of places have banned, or started restricting the use of plastic bags)
– Consider ordering/buying some everyday products (such as food and beverages, toiletries, hygiene products, and so on) in bulk
Some bulk orders come with less packaging compared to single orders
– Buy products that generally come with less packaging (where practical to do so)
Such as products that are group wrapped, instead of items being individually wrapped
3. Consider Reducing Food Waste
Food waste has its own sustainability footprint.
Reducing food waste both in and out of the home can be achieved in various ways, such as:
– Being intentional about food shopping and only buying what you know you’ll eat, and avoiding impulse purchases
– Eating all of what you cook/prepare at home
– Storing uneaten food or prepped food properly in the fridge, freezer, and in other places at home so it can be eaten later, or eaten as leftovers
– Order what you know you’ll eat when you eat out at restaurants and other eateries
– Consider eating at public venues that allow you to take home whatever you don’t eat as leftovers (potentially in a clean/hygienic reusable and washable food container you’ve brought from home)
4. Consider Reducing Other Types Of Unnecessary Waste
This may involve things such as:
– Not printing or requesting a receipt when you go shopping if you don’t need one
– Going electronic/paperless where practical
For postage communication, bills, statements, and so on
For taking notes, a computer might be able to be used instead using a paper notepad
– Using reusable products in other applications (other than the ones mentioned elsewhere in this guide)
Such as using reusable and washable diapers
Obviously though, the health and safety of the baby or person wearing the diapers comes before sustainability as a priority – so, confirm reusable products are safe and healthy using your own due diligence and independent consultation before using them
Another example might be using rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries
– Consider buying someone a gift card or an experience for a gift instead of a physical product
This may increase the likelihood they buy themselves something they need, as opposed to something they don’t (that will get wasted or not used)
An experience as a gift instead of a product may also not leave a waste footprint
5. Consider Disposing Of Waste Properly, & Sorting It Properly
This may involve:
– Sorting waste into the proper waste stream bins at home
Different bins are provided at home for different waste streams.
They usually involve general waste, and also recycling bins.
Some municipalities also have organic waste bins as a third type of waste.
– Considering composting
Whether organic waste bins are provided in your municipality or not, some homes may consider starting composting for organic waste – assuming it’s practical and beneficial to do so.
This can involve a kitchen composter, or an outside compost heap.
– Considering the proper disposal of specialized waste
There’s also specialized waste streams to consider.
One example in some cities or towns might be drop off points for batteries, and also specialized e-waste disposal services.
6. Consider Using/Consuming Water More Sustainably
Water is used on a daily basis by individuals both directly, and indirectly
Another way to say that is that we have both a visible water footprint, and also an invisible water footprint.
We might use water more sustainably by:
– Using water more sustainably inside the house
This can involve things such as not running water excessively when using the faucet or shower, and using water efficient fixtures and appliances around the house
It may also involve fixing water leaks where they occur around the house
– Using water more sustainably outside the house
This can involve things such as using a water efficient sprinkler system or hose attachment, and also checking for and fixing leaks as they occur in sprinkler systems and hoses
It may also involve being mindful of water use outside in hotter climates where evaporation is an issue, and also in yards where there is more plant life to water
Doing things such as washing the car with buckets of water instead of a hose, and waiting until the sun goes down to water plants and the lawn may also help in using water more sustainably
– Consider the indirect water footprint in the food we eat, the products and services we use, and the electricity we use
We discuss these things in a separate guide.
7. Consider Using/Consuming Energy & Electricity More Sustainably
This may involve things such as:
– Using a sustainable energy supplier at home
Some home energy suppliers in your local area may have sustainable performance features to their service.
This might be a result of the energy source they use, or, something else like the use of more eco friendly devices and technology at the power plants where the energy is sourced or generated.
– Considering whether a renewable energy setup at home is practical and beneficial
This won’t suit every home, and may not be sustainable or financially feasible for every home either.
But, some homes may benefit from a solar panel setup, or a similar renewable energy setup at home that provides energy separate to the grid.
– Using electricity more sustainably inside the home
There’s several potential ways to achieve this
One way might not using electricity unnecessarily or excessively – turning off lighting when leaving the home can achieve this, and so can using timers on lighting and other fixtures and appliances to save power
Another way might be using more energy efficient fixtures and appliances. One commonly cited example of this might be using LED lighting over other types of lighting
But, obviously other appliances like fridges, freezers, and so on have energy efficient models available
8. Consider Commuting, Travelling & Using Transport In A More Sustainable Way
We’ve previously written guides on sustainable transport, and also the potential pros and cons of sustainable transport.
But, some potential tips for commuting, travelling, and using transport in a more sustainable way might be:
– Walk more or ride/cycle more where possible
– Consider other light forms of transport, such as motorized bikes, scooters, and so on
– Catch forms of transport that are more efficient on a per passenger basis, such as some types of public transport, like buses, trains, trams, and so on
– Drive less distance per year in a single passenger vehicle
One simple way to do this might be doing one trip to the shops to do food shopping every week, instead of multiple trips
Another way might be by working from home one or multiple days per week
– When driving a single passenger vehicle, try to drive one that is more fuel efficient, or has other sustainable design features
– When driving a single passenger vehicle, try to maintain it/service it, and keep the tires adequately inflated
– Reduce the amount of airplane miles/kilometres you travel per year, especially short haul flights which might be less fuel efficient
9. Consider The Sustainability Of The Food You Buy & Consume
There might be two main components to this – the sustainability of the food diet (and types of food in that diet), and also where the food is bought or sourced from.
The Food Diet
In terms of the food diet someone eats, the priority should obviously always be the health, safety, nutritional requirements of the individual over sustainability priorities.
An individual shouldn’t change their food diet or nutritional intake without consulting a qualified health professional beforehand (and the information in this guide isn’t professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice)
However, things that may improve the sustainability of an individual’s food diet, by implementing them generally or for one meal per week, might be:
– Not eating excessively (i.e. eating moderately, and in line with what is required for a healthy daily food intake)
– Considering reducing the intake of potentially more resource intensive animal meats, like beef in some instances
– Considering reducing the intake of potentially more resource intensive food groups and food types, such as eating less animal products vs some plant based foods for example
In some instances, some plant based foods may be resource intensive or have a greater sustainability impact too though
– Considering whether alternative sources of food production, other than traditional agricultural food production, might become more sustainable in the future
Insects/bugs, plant based meat, lab grown meat, and aquaculture are some potential examples
We’ve previously written about the potential sustainability of eating insects, the potential pros and cons of plant based meat, the potential pros and cons of lab grown meat, and also the potential pros and cons of aquaculture
Where Food Is Bought Or Sourced From
In terms of where someone buys their food from, buying food that is in season and produced locally, or close to the area it’s eaten in, might reduce the overall transport footprint of that food.
10. Consider Researching, Using & Supporting More Sustainable Products & Services
Some companies source and manufacture their products with sustainable practices, or make their products with sustainable features.
One example might be some sustainable fashion companies and textile products.
Other examples might be some types of sustainably made toilet paper, or sustainably caught/farmed seafood.
Some companies similarly offer services that are sustainable in some way.
One example might be tourism operators and tourism service providers that offer tours and experiences that are sustainable in some way.
One example might be a tourism experience that protects the well being and welfare of wildlife in the area.
Potential Tips For Consumer Products & Services
Consumers might do some of the following things when it comes to doing their due diligence on consumer products and services:
– Research the companies and their products/services before purchasing
– Check the labels on products, and also check the product description and other information provided online
– Check for recognized certifications
Ultimately, buying and using these sustainable products is a financial vote of support.
11. Consider Your Consumption Habits
Consumption matters because everything has a production footprint, and there’s also a waste footprint when the things we consume reach the end of their lifespan.
Our consumption habits can sometimes be used to describe the type of lifestyle we live i.e. whether we live a faster or slower life, and also how intensive they are.
Three Main Components Of Consumption
Consumption is made up of three main components:
– How much we consume (in total)
– How fast we consume
i.e. our consumption rate/consumption frequency
We might consume at a faster rate, or at a slower rate
In terms of fashion consumption, the terms fast fashion vs slow fashion are sometimes used
– What we consume
i.e. how resource intensive the things we consume are, or, what the sustainability impact of the things we consume are.
Some goods and services are more resource intensive or have a larger sustainability impact than others
One example is how carbon intensive different forms of transport are per mile or kilometre travelled
Potential Tips For Consumption
Some potential tips for consumption might be:
– Consider whether you can reasonably consume less in total
If you can live a similar life by consuming less, consider if this trade off is practical
– Consider whether you can reasonably reduce your rate/frequency of consumption
If you can live a similar life by consuming at a slower rate, consider if this trade off is practical
– Understand some of the various ways to consume less, or consume at a slower rate
Including but not limited to:
Buying only what you need, and avoiding impulse purchases
Buying quality items that will last longer
Maintaining (taking better care of) of items whilst in use
Repairing or restoring items where possible to extend their lifespan
Consider buying pre-used where practical instead of buying new
Consider renting where practical instead of buying new
Consider buying items with recycled content in them where practical and sustainable
Get outside more and engage in activities that are naturally lower consumption (such as walking, cycling, hiking, etc.)
– Understand some of the various ways to potentially lower the intensity or impact of our consumption
This can be specific to individual products and services.
However, a good place to start might be understanding how intensive the different forms of energy or transport are.
One example is that the more fuel efficient a car is, the less intensively it might use fuel, and the less total pollutions and greenhouse gases it might emit (although the emission rates of different fuels and car models need to be confirmed)
– Understand that some purchases may have a larger impact on sustainability than others
These purchases may include purchases that:
Are larger purchases in terms of monetary value, such as a house or car
Have a longer lifespan, or last longer (in terms of years)
Use fuel or electricity, such as a car, or appliances or systems around the house
With these types of purchases, it may make practical sense to be more comprehensive with your research and due diligence on them (i.e. spend more time and potentially money on them), before purchasing them.
Getting the purchase right may be more important in these instances.
12. Consider Your Disposal Habits
Why Disposal Matters
Disposal might matter for several reasons:
– Everything has a production footprint, and how long we go before disposing of something ultimately determines how many years the production footprint of that thing has the chance to average out over
– The longer we use something for, the more value we might get out of those original resources
– The more waste we generate, and the quicker we generate it, the more waste we have to manage
– The more waste we generate, and the quicker we generate it, the more we might have a linear economy where resources are leaving the economy to become waste, as opposed to having a more circular economy where resources are fed back into the economy via a loop and re-used in some way
Read a comparison about linear vs circular economies here
– The more waste we generate, the greater the prevalence of some types of waste pollution might be
Components Of Disposal
Similar to consumption, some of the main components of disposal might be:
– The total amount of waste we generate
– The rate at which we generate waste
i.e. how fast or slow we are generating waste
– The type of waste we are generating
Potential Tips For Disposal
Some potential tips for disposal might be:
– Consider how your consumption total and consumption rate may impact your disposal total and disposal rate
It makes sense that the more you consume, the more you might have to throw away
– Understand the ways you can potentially be more sustainable with disposal
Buy quality items to last longer
Maintain items where possible
Restore or repair items where possible
Rent items instead of buying where practical – fashion and clothing items may be an example of this
Buy secondhand, or buy pre-used items where practical, instead of buying new
Trade, sell, donate or gift items you are thinking of throwing away as waste where possible
Consider whether you can reuse or repurpose, or upcycle or downcycle some items instead of throwing them away
When throwing away waste, can you dispose of that waste to be recycled instead of incinerated or sent to landfill?
Can the organic waste you are throwing away be composted in some way?
13. Consider The Overall Sustainability In Your Home
Homes can make up a reasonable % of someone’s overall sustainability footprint, regardless of whether they rent or own.
We’ve put together a separate guide about sustainability tips in the home.
14. Consider Sustainability At Work, & In Business
Employment and business can also make up a reasonable % of society’s overall sustainability footprint.
We’ve put together separate guides on:
– Sustainability Tips In The Workplace
– Sustainability Tips For Employees
– Specific Ways To Be More Sustainable In Business
– General Sustainable Business Practices
15. Consider The Potential Benefits Of Tree Planting
Tree planting may have both local and also wider sustainability benefits in some instances.
Just a few examples are that trees produce oxygen, and absorb carbon dioxide.
We previously put together a separate guide where we discuss the number of trees the world might need.
16. Consider Donating To, Or Volunteering For A Sustainability Charity, Organisation, Or Initiative
There’s a range of charities, organizations or initiatives whose goals and missions are sustainability related.
Some may focus on reducing environmental degradation, some may focus on preserving biodiversity and protecting wildlife, some may focus on social causes, and so on.
Donating or giving money or time to these groups or initiatives may help further these goals and missions.
17. Consider Adopting A Pet Over Buying One New
Pets & Sustainability
What some people may not be aware of is:
– The resources that go into pet care, and the sustainability impact
For example, some people may not consider the sustainability impact of dog food and cat food that often contains animal meat and animal products
– The resources that go into dealing with abandoned or stray pets
Potential Sustainability Tips For Pet Ownership
– Be conscious of the responsibility and impact of owning a pet
Don’t make the decision to get a new puppy or kitten lightly.
Make sure you can take care of them properly for the duration of their life.
Also, be aware of the potential impact of owning a pet
– Consider adopting if practical instead of buying new
Adopting a pet may help push the demand down for new breeding, whilst also easing some of the burden on the current abandoned pet population.
We’ve previously written guides about the stats and impact behind pet abandonment, the main reasons why people give up their pets, and also how we might better address the issue of pet abandonment.
– Consider volunteering for pet shelters, pet rehoming groups, and initiatives that bring awareness to issues like pet abandonment, or help practically address problems related to the issues
18. Consider The Sustainability Impact Of Population Growth, & Overpopulation
This can be a somewhat controversial topic.
However, apart from the way in which we live our lives (such as our consumption habits), and other factors like how industrialized a society is, the number of people in the population also has the ability to impact sustainability, the number of resources we need, and so on.
It’s worth understanding the issue of overpopulation.
Some reports indicate that people should consider having less children, but, other reports indicate that this is not a reasonable, valid, or complete solution for several reasons.
19. Consider Researching The Basics Of Sustainability Yourself
It may be worth an individual researching and informing themselves on the basics of sustainability, instead of relying on claims made by companies, or public figures, governments, and other third party groups.
This may help an individual make better informed and more independent decisions about how they view and approach sustainability in their life.
20. Consider Sharing What You’ve Learnt With Others
This could be sharing with friends and family, getting involved with online groups that discuss sustainability and related topics, and a range of other avenues to engage with others about sustainability.
21. Consider Starting By Implementing One Simple Thing, & Go From There
It can be easy to get overwhelmed, or try to do too much, and either not start, or start and give up.
Therefore, the easiest way to start living more sustainably may simply be to do or try one simple thing, and then decide from there what you can realistically manage as part of your lifestyle after that.
1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides