Deciding to be a more sustainable person and doing your part to save the earth can be done in all aspects of your life. By taking charge and making small changes in how you live your day-to-day life, you can make an incredible impact on the planet.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlights how waste contributes to climate change as solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States. Methane gas has been linked to one of the types of gasses that contribute greatly to global climate change.
We spend a lot of time in our homes, and the more sustainable your home is, the healthier it will be for everyone who lives in it.
Check out these 9 simple ways to be more sustainable at home!
1. 'Upcycle' Your wardrobe
Upcycling your clothes is a great way to get more use out of items that don’t get a lot of wear time, are older styles, or simply don’t fit the way you would like them to. Upcycling is the process of transforming waste or unwanted products into new items with greater quality or value. This quality can be greater in artistic value or environmental value. If there are clothes in your closet that you have outgrown or want to revamp, here are a few ways you can repurpose them:
- If you have outgrown shirts or tank tops, you can make them into crop tops by cutting the excess length off the tank tops and shirts to give a new look and trendier feel!
- Jeans take a lot of water to make and have a very intense production process. Non-organic cotton is noted for being the world’s thirstiest crop, which is a material that is used a lot in denim. As much as 2,600 gallons of water is needed to make ONE pair of jeans. So instead of tossing them out or donating them, you can add some cuts to your jeans, make them into shorts, or add some patches to get more use and enjoy them more!
- Another way to upcycle your home is by upcycling household items! If you have mirrors or old vinyl records you could paint on them or add your own creative touch while making them a fun room decor item.
If you want to learn more ways to “upcycle” your life, check out upcycling ideas on YouTube or Pinterest. Plus, you’ll have a lot of fun while channeling your inner artist!
2. Use old towels to clean your home
Have towels or washcloths that are stained and ripped? Reduce waste and stop the overfilling of landfills by cutting up those old towels and washcloths and making them into cleaning rags! This helps you save money on buying cleaning supplies and helps save paper towels from being wasted!
3. Conserve energy by bundling up
Instead of turning up the heat or putting on the A/C during extreme weather, consider other alternatives when dealing with extreme temperatures. Electricity and heat constitute 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
So, when it’s too cold, consider putting on an extra layer of clothing or throwing on a cozy blanket to help you feel more comfortable. When it’s hot, try to ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing, drinking cold water, and keeping the blinds closed during peak sun hours (11 am - 2 pm) will keep the household temps down. Before running to adjust the thermostat, try these energy-saving tips to help lower your electric bill and save the earth.
4. go paperless!
Opt in to receive your bills and receipts via email or through apps on your phone. This helps save paper and take steps to help slow down deforestation, plus it’s easier to locate than paper receipts.
It is estimated that the annual waste from receipts in the U.S. is 686 million pounds of waste, and by skipping receipts or making them paperless, we would save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of one million cars on the road from being released into the atmosphere.
Many businesses offer incentives like discounts and exclusive offers to opt for paperless billing like many banks, retail stores, utility companies, and restaurants.
5. Save gift bags and re-use!
Gift giving and getting is often a part of many holiday and family traditions. According to a 2017 study done by Vancouver-based environmental group, Zero Waste Canada: about 540,000 tons of gift wrapping and gift bags get sent into landfills during the holiday season. 540,000 tons just from Canada alone. Can you imagine the numbers from the United States where the population is almost 9x larger?
Most of these events happen every year, so instead of buying new gift bags every holiday season, try to save those bags and reuse them for future gift giving so they don’t end up in landfills.
6. save the earth while surfing the web
Do you know you can help save the planet and not even leave your desk? By changing your default search engine to a sustainable search engine, like Ecosia, you help save the earth while doing something you do every day anyway!
Ecosia is a non-profit organization that uses its profit to plant and protect trees! Ecosia helps save the planet by using the profit that they make from your searches, to plant trees where they are needed most around the world. In July 2022 alone, Ecosia financed the planting and protection of 4,711,672 trees across the globe.
Saving the earth and planting trees is as easy as switching to a sustainable search engine! Also, you’re helping support another non-profit organization, like us at Move For Hunger.
7. buy second hand
Believe it or not, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, contributing to 10% of humankind’s carbon emissions.
Instead of purchasing items new, consider buying “new-to-you” items from thrift stores, second hand shops, and online garage sales to help reduce waste and save money!
8. consider e-reading and renting
If you need to purchase books for school, for fun, or to learn a new skill, utilize your local library card and save money and the environment!
Paper production often poses risks to virgin, old-growth forests. The newspaper and book publishing industries consume 153 billion gallons of water each year and the ink that is used in printing releases volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere and creates smog, which contributes to asthma aggravation.
Even if you don’t want to go to the library’s actual location, a lot of libraries have online e-book access where you can read from your tablet, computer, or phone! Renting textbooks from online bookstores can also save you a lot of money, plus you don’t have to deal with the hassle of selling those textbooks once you’re finished. Online bookstores that you can rent from are Chegg, Amazon, and Ecampus!
9. Homemade cleaning solutions are better for you and the planet
Making at-home cleaning solutions helps the environment and your health! An at-home cleaning solution can be made by putting ingredients, often already in part of your home, together to make products for cleaning your home.
By making DIY cleaning solutions, you are helping eliminate many toxic chemicals from hurting animals and people. The Environmental Protection Agency (or EPA) labels these chemicals as “volatile organic compounds,” which can be harmful in different ways. Primarily when you use cleaners with volatile organic compounds, they are rinsed down the drain after cleaning and sanitizing and particles aren’t all dissolved, and end up entering waterways.
VOCs refer to a group of chemicals, and each chemical has its own level of toxicity and potential for causing different health effects. It has been found that high exposure to VOCs can lead to cancer, liver and kidney damage, central nervous system damage, eczema, and other health complications.
There are numerous VOCs in everyday household products. Cleaning companies are not required to fully disclose what chemicals are in their products. although this may not always be clear from the ingredient label. The most common VOCs in our homes, with documented effects on human health, include Hydrocarbons, Chlorinates, Terpenes, Phthalates, Isothiazolinones, and Formaldehyde among others.
One way you can lessen VOC exposure is by making homemade glass cleaner! It’s made by putting equal parts vinegar & water in a spray bottle and using it on mirrors and glass and making them sparkly clean! There are tons of other DIY recipes that can help save the environment, and keep your house fresh and clean.
Learn more about sustainable living
Simple steps can be taken every day to be more sustainable at home. Incorporating these tips into your life will not only save you money but the earth too!
Want to learn more about recycling, and sustainability? Check out our blogs on composting, reducing food waste at home, and 8 simple tips to reduce food waste at home! If you want to find out more ways to be sustainable and fight hunger, check out our Take Action page!