We live in a modern world where most people consume and pollute. Instead of wasting at such vast degrees, we should make a point to be as sustainable and self-reliant as possible. This effort is an excellent way to both help the earth and saves money. Here are 12 ways to live a sustainable lifestyle (and save money in the long run).
12 Tips for a More Sustainable Lifestyle
1. Grow Your Own Food
Instead of getting into the car to go to the store and putting toxins in the air and buying food that needed to be transported and possibly packaged, grow your fruits and vegetables at home.
Do your research to learn what foods grow best in your area and how to grow them. When the time comes, you’ll have the freshest vegetables possible. Plus, you will know exactly how they were raised and what they were treated with since you were the one who grew them.
Recycling is the process of taking used material and repurposing it instead of adding to the already overfilled landfills in the world. Not everything can be recycled, but the items that can go to a recycling center which helps bring it to a new, reusable form.
Place plastic, paper, and glass in a separate container specifically for recyclable materials. In many cases, the city will provide a recyclables bin for you. In some cases, you may even be able to make money off of your recyclable materials. The following states offer money for bottles and cans:
- New York
If you live in one of these states, collect your cans and bottles. The recycling center will typically offer a nickel per item. You can help the environment while also earning some extra money. Talk to an employee at the center to learn about any other materials they would pay you for.
3. Ditch Your Car
Cars are a significant source of air pollution, especially in metropolitan areas. Many people drive to work or the store when they could easily take an alternative method of transportation. If you can take one car off the road every day by walking or biking to work, you are making a significant difference.
However, you should consider public transportation if walking or biking is not a reasonable method for you. If that also doesn’t work for your commute, create a carpool at your work. You can save gas money by taking turns driving with other people at the office. It will reduce the number of pollutants in the air, too.
4. Install Solar Panels
One of the most exciting new sustainable inventions in recent years is the solar panel. You can place these on your home to generate your electricity. Of course, you still have backup power from the electric company. However, since you are producing your electricity most of the time, your electric bill will be significantly reduced or even nothing.
The solar panels collect the sun’s rays and turn it into electricity. When you need to use it, it’s distributed throughout your house. Since this method requires the sun, it works best in sunny locations.
The solar panels generally go on top of your current roof. However, Tesla has invented a roof made of solar panels. It’s expensive, but it’s attractive and saves you money in utilities.
5. Shop From Environmentally Responsible Companies
You have a lot of options as a consumer. It’s your job to make responsible decisions about who you buy from. You shouldn’t only focus on price. You need to pay attention to the way the company packages its products and their manufacturing practices. There may be a reason that a particular product is cheaper than the competition.
These items probably won’t last as long as other options, meaning you’ll spend more when you need to be a second product. Also, specific packaging and manufacturing processes are bad for the apartment.
6. Shop With Reusable Bags
Think of all of the plastic bags used when people go out grocery shopping or shopping at the local pharmacy. Even though they are plastic, these bags can not be recycled. In fact, some countries are even banning the use of plastic bags when shopping. Think ahead and bring your reusable bags.
There are sustainable bags designed to use over and over again. This habit will eliminate the need to use plastic bags. Just don’t forget to bring them with you when you head out to shop.
7. Drive an Electric Car
If you can’t possibly get rid of your car, that doesn’t mean you can’t make responsible decisions about the vehicle you drive. Some vehicles are known for being “gas guzzlers.” They consume a lot of gas. This moniker means you’ll be stuck going to the gas station more often and spending more money. Common gas guzzlers include Hummers and large trucks. Compare vehicles before buying.
Luckily, there are electric vehicles and hybrids now that don’t require as much gas. These vehicles rely on electricity or a combination of both electricity and gas. You won’t be stopping for gas as often or putting the same amount of pollution into the air.
8. Buy Energy Star Appliances
Most modern homes utilize refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances to help complete chores. It’s almost unheard of not to have these appliances around the house. However, these appliances use up a lot of electricity and water. As they get older, they may even require more to complete the same amount of work. Specific machines are designed to use less water and electricity than usual.
These appliances will have an Energy Star sticker on them. This designation lets you know they adhere to a certain standard of efficiency. You will save money on your utility bills. Plus, you will be more sustainable.
9. Eat Local
Think about how food gets from where it was made to your plate. In some cases, this involves an extensive long-distance journey. The journey means putting pollution into the air. Plus, the food isn’t as fresh as it once was when it finally arrives at its destination.
Instead of eating at places that require the food to come from all over the country, eat at restaurants and shop at farmer’s markets who only use food from local farmers and butchers. This food is likely less expensive since it doesn’t require travel costs.
Plus, it will be some of the freshest food you can eat. In these types of establishments, the food probably wasn’t frozen at any point. Finally, it was perhaps picked off of the vine that same day!
10. Use HVAC System Wisely
It’s completely unreasonable to assume that people will live in hot summers and cold winters without an HVAC system. This fact is especially relevant if you live in a location with an extreme climate. However, you should use your HVAC system wisely.
First, you should get a unit with the Energy Star sticker we mentioned before. Also, you don’t need to set the unit to extreme temperatures. Instead of setting it at 68 degrees in the summer, try setting it at 78. You want to make yourself comfortable, but you don’t need to overdo it. You should also consider using a smart thermometer.
The smart thermometer can change the temperature when no one is in the home. It can even set it back when people come home for the day. Finally, get regular maintenance from a professional HVAC technician every year.
It’s your job as a citizen to vote about the things that matter to you. Since we can’t vote on particular legislation, we need to vote for people who put environmental issues at the forefront. Research local, state-wide, and national politicians to learn who will support you and others who want to live a sustainable lifestyle.
When it’s time to vote, you should stop by the polls and cast your ballot. Some people only vote during national elections, but it’s important to vote in every election if you expect to see a change in your area. These changes can even result in significant savings for the government.
There are a vast number of organizations that work to help environmental issues and help sustainability efforts. Make a point to support and volunteer with these organizations. You may learn things during your volunteer service. You may also be able to make a difference in your community. Look for organizations that make an effort to clean up nature and plant trees. There are also organizations designed to help animals.
Final Thoughts on Achieving a Sustainable Life That Saves the Planet (and your wallet)
The world needs our help. We tend to make more from the planet than we give. It also doesn’t hurt that being more sustainable can save us a lot of money, too. These tips are a great place to start, but keep looking for new ways to help.