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20 Tips on How to be Sustainable at Home

Current circumstances have brought most of us to a halt. The COVID19 crisis has come as an unexpected blow for many, triggering unwanted feelings of fear, anxiety and insecurity. Underlying these natural emotions, however, will always prevail a sense of hope, compassion, and the wish to move towards something better.

To help you transform negative feelings and canalize your energy into creating a healthy society, we have compiled a series of 20 tips that will help you adopt a more sustainable lifestyle during this isolation period. Together we can shed light onto this dark period.

Look into what you eat

1. Boost your plant consumption While an animal-based diet produces a total of 3.3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per day, a vegan diet produces only 1.5 tons of CO2e. And, although eating vegan is not everyone’s cup of tea, we can all give our best shot at reducing the amount of meat and dairy we consume. Check out Minimalist Baker for tons of delicious recipes you won’t be able to turn down.

Did you know that plant-based eating will not only help restore the natural world we depend on, but it will also benefit our health? It is now proven by science that by nourishing our bodies with this anti-inflammatory diet the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other conditions is decreased.

2. Buy local, organic and seasonal When we opt for local, organic, or seasonal over imported and industrial produce, we actively vote for food security, the maintenance of healthy soils, water and air, as well as for safeguarding nature’s biodiversity.

3. Start your own food garden What better way to connect with our food than by putting our green fingers to work and turning our window sills, balconies, or gardens into small fruit and vegetable plots? Indoor spaces can also be used to grow herb gardens. You can browse through Feedspot’s list on top vegetable gardening blogs and websites to get started.

Re-think your household cleaners

4. Purchase eco-friendly and safe cleaning products Choose products that have been rated as eco-friendly and safe. Take a look at EWG ranks for many of the cleaning products available in the market. This organization also provides useful information for helping us select our purchases knowingly.

Were you aware that many of the household cleaning products that blissfully sit in the cupboards of our house contain dangerous toxic chemicals that significantly contribute to air and water pollution? Or, even worse, that these toxins have been linked to health issues such as asthma, cancer, and allergies?

5. DIY your own cleaners We can also stop relying on these dangerous products by making our own cleaners. With most recipes requiring simple ingredients like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda, this option presents a solution that is within almost everyone’s reach. Take a look at Ecopeanut’s list on 23 non-toxic homemade cleaners.

Use energy smartly

6. Analyze your energy usage habits Listing all of the items that consume electricity in our house is a good place to start when striving to cut down energy consumption. Once ready, we can go through this list and assess which items can be used more responsibly and which can be replaced with an energy-friendly alternative when their service life is over. Visual Capitalist shares a great infographic that shows the top energy users in your home.

Did you hear about the CO2 emissions energy-related historical record that we reached back in 2018? That year saw 33.1 gigatonnes of emmited CO2, with the two main drivers of this steep growth coming from a booming global economy, in addition to a rise in demand for heating and cooling due to weather conditions in certain parts of the globe.

7. Carry out easy replacements A drying rack in place of a tumble dryer, LED or CFL lightbulbs in place of traditional incandescent ones, opening curtains instead of turning the lights on, reading a book instead of watching TV, washing using cold water, and unplugging or turning off appliances when not in use. These are all simple actions that go a long way.

8. Switch to a green energy provider Power your energy with renewables instead of coal and fossil fuels.

Become waste-conscious

9. Reduce plastic consumption Ask online companies to deliver your order without any plastic packaging, use reusable bags or a trolley when doing your groceries, refuse single use plastics like cutlery, cups and straws, and use beeswax wraps or containers instead of plastic wraps.

Did you know that about 2.01 billion tons of solid waste were generated in 2016 and, if our society continues along the business as usual mindset, this figure is expected to rise up to 3.4 billion tons by 2050? This problem alone could pollute and disrupt our waterways for hundreds, if not, thousands of years. This is why it’s so important to do something about this.

10. Embrace Zero Waste as much as possible Thinking about the five principals of zero waste living of refuse, reduce, reuse, rot and recycle is a solid foundation from which to begin reducing your waste.

11. Remember to deal with your food waste Worldwide food loss and food waste generate around 8% of total manmade emissions, which is almost equivalent (87%) to global road transport emissions. An effective way to manage our food waste is to start composting our food scraps, which will in turn provide us with natural fertilizer for our plants. Read Going Zero Waste’s post on Composting Guide for Apartment Living to learn more. Freezing, dehydrating, and pickling food will also help you preserve food for longer periods.

12. Declutter and recycle the right way Think twice before recycling or throwing away objects: fixing, reusing, repurposing and donating can substantially increase an item’s life. Just get creative with it!

Expand your awareness

13. Take advantage of online learning Coursera, Future Learn, and EdX offer free and paid courses on a range of topics relevant to sustainability. From organic gardening to climate change and from wildlife to renewable energy.

14. Immerse yourself in green reads The Zero Waste Memoirs compiled a list of 10 Books About Sustainability Every Millenial Should Read that features must-reads that tackle subjects like production, economy and fashion from a sustainability-oriented perspective.

15. Listen to worthwhile podcasts Skim through GreenBiz’s list of 14 Sustainability Podcasts You Need to Know to see which one catches your eye… or ear.

16. Watch noteworthy documentaries Mission Blue, Sharkwater, What The Health, The Ivory Game… the list is endless. For more suggestions visit ScreenRant’s list.

Think outside the box

17. Plant trees in a matter of clicks if you haven’t done it yet, swap your current search engine to Ecosia. This company will give away 80% of their profit to organizations engaged in reforestation initiatives.

18. Feed the birds and the bees Google plants and flowers native to your geographic location and buy and plant these in your backyard or windowsill. Not only will you be playing a role in protecting species key to our survival (pollinators), but you’ll be turning your home’s outdoor spaces into a beautiful biodiversity haven.

19. Disinfect your money Have you already seen Jane Fonda putting one of the world’s largest banks on the spot? If you haven’t, please watch it and follow her lead. Putting your money in banks that invest in ethical companies will have an impact in our society and world. Be sure to scan at Curiously Conscious’ Guide to Ethical Banking to learn more about the topic.

20. Practice mindfulness Remember to stop, reflect, meditate, do yoga, and give yourself some much-deserved self-love.

What will you get in return?

A healthier body, a safer home, and lower monthly bills are some of the positive offshoots of greener living. But, because this is a time to think about others and not just ourselves, we will slowly contribute to re-building a world in which all sentient beings can feel healthier, safer, and happier for many years to come. This may be the greatest retribution of all.

Stay strong, take care, and give aid to those in need. This, too, shall pass.

Maria André
An advocate for a diverse Planet Earth in which all species have the right - and access - to clean water, food and suitable shelter. Maria André puts this into practice by making as many ecologically- and socially-correct decisions as possible, both in her personal and professional lives