sustainable foods laying on table

Sustainable Living 101: The Beginner’s Guide

What does it mean to live sustainably? Sustainable living is a lifestyle choice that aims to benefit the environment and minimize the impact we have on our planet. In order to ensure the health of the planet for future generations, it’s now more important than ever to be mindful of how our daily choices impact the environment. 

Fifteen percent of people say the barrier keeping them from taking the step toward living sustainably is a lack of information. It can feel intimidating to transition fully into a sustainable lifestyle cold turkey, but we have accessible tips for small, easy changes that add up. Here are some sustainable solutions to help you make the lifestyle change to sustainable living.

What Is Sustainable Living and Why Is It Important?

The goal of sustainable living is to reduce an individual’s environmental impact, in ways that are sustainable both for the Earth and for the person. Living sustainably is both a consumer and business effort to live in a way that doesn’t deplete resources for future generations, whether that be through reducing one’s carbon footprint or following a waste-free lifestyle. 

Maintaining a sustainable lifestyle often means being mindful about buying only what we need to prevent unnecessary waste. It also means avoiding single-use, disposable products and investing in higher-quality, longer-lasting, reusable ones. 

What Are the Benefits of Living Sustainably?

Living sustainably provides an abundance of benefits that we can enjoy both now and in the future. Some benefits of sustainable living include:

  • Helping to preserve Earth’s resources for future generations
  • Reversing global warming
  • Curbing hazardous chemicals in the air, water, and soil
  • Conserving animal and plant biodiversity 
  • Mitigating natural disasters and abnormal weather events 
  • Saving money!

How to Live More Sustainably: 14 Tips 

Taking the leap to start living sustainably is easier than you think. Here are fourteen helpful tips to guide you on your journey into sustainable living. 

1. Opt For Reusable Everyday Essentials 

reusable coffee filter

Buying single-use, disposable items may seem more convenient, but investing in reusable products can save you money and trips to the store. Reusable coffee filters and beeswax food wraps are both plastic-free and are perfect choices for keeping unnecessary waste out of the landfill. 

There are more reusable, everyday essentials than you might think. Here are just a few:

  • Reusable bamboo towels
  • Reusable soap dispensers
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Reusable food storage bags 
  • Organic cotton reusable pads and panty liners

Pro tip: Bring reusable food storage bags and containers for your leftovers when you’re dining out. It avoids using the restaurant’s single-use containers and saves them money.

2. Cut Down on Plastic

Cutting down on plastic can help curb the amount of waste we create and is one of the more significant ways to live sustainably. Choose products with plastic-free or sustainable packaging. Try shopping for items without packaging that come in the form of solid bars like shampoo, lotion, and soap. Every choice we make to minimize plastic waste lying in landfills benefits Mother Earth.

Pro tip: Refuse plastic straws or disposable silverware when getting takeout.

3. Make Your Own Compost 

infographic of compost materials eggshells

Composting takes food waste and puts it to good use, whether that be as fertilizer for your garden, mulch, or in potting soil. Composting waste improves soil conditions and can significantly reduce greenhouse gasses by 50%. When composting, you can use everything from vegetable scraps and grass clippings to coffee grounds.  

Pro tip: Adding worms and micro-organisms helps keep the soil healthy and improves the compost ecosystem.

4. Refuse, Reuse, Refill 

Doing your part by recycling helps, but the system isn’t efficient enough to be our only option to help the environment. Remember these “three R’s” to help you with sustainable living.

  • Refuse: Refuse products that will harm the environment, like single-use plastics or styrofoam containers.
  • Reuse: Reusing items like glass jars give them a new purpose and keep them from ending up as waste.
  • Refill: Using refillable products and concentrates reduces shipping weight and helps offset the environmental costs of shipping large items. 

These are small things you can do that make a big impact on the environment. 

Pro tip: Investing in a reusable, stainless steel water bottle reduces plastic waste and conserves the resources used to manufacture, bottle, and ship it. 

5. Practice Sustainable Cleanups

infographic of sustainable bamboo paper towels

When cleaning up spills, it’s easy to reach for single-use paper towels. However, you can save money and the environment by practicing sustainable cleanups. Opt for non-synthetic fibers in your cleaning cloths — look for renewable resources like wood, bamboo, and hemp. 

Pro tip: Did you know one sheet of bamboo towels will last as long as an entire roll of single-use paper towels?

6. Embrace Regenerative Agriculture

Look for companies that use regenerative agriculture practices that include a holistic, ecosystem-based approach to growing produce while still prioritizing environmental healing. This type of farming helps reverse climate change and improves soil quality, resulting in a healthier food system. Picking products from companies that use this practice is an easy way to help the environment heal.

Pro tip: Look for products with a Regenerative label to show that the company uses certified regenerative practices.

7. Upgrade to an Energy-Efficient Home

Upgrading your home with energy-efficient appliances, lightbulbs, and heating and cooling systems may be an upfront investment, but they will save you money in the long run. Look for Energy Star-rated appliances and heating and cooling systems to make your home more energy-efficient.

Don’t forget to flip the switch when leaving a room to avoid wasting energy. When possible, open your blinds and curtains to take advantage of natural light.

Pro tip: Painting walls with lighter colors can make it easier to brighten your spaces by reflecting light.

8. Use Non-Toxic Cleaners

Sustainable cleaning products are better for the environment than using harsh chemicals, especially if they are biodegradable. Use non-synthetic, non-toxic cleaning supplies that are earth-consumable and have recyclable or sustainable packaging to keep pollutants out of the environment.

Good news! All of Hive’s non-toxic cleaners are free of phthalates, parabens, and sulfates.

Pro tip: Vinegar and hypochlorous acid are sustainable alternatives to bleach.

9. Eat at Home Instead of Takeout

infographic with organic salad, chicken, and garlic salt on a table

Everyone loves the convenience of getting takeout, but making your own food at home helps reduce food packaging waste, uses less energy than commercial kitchens, and allows you to pick healthier, better-sourced ingredients. Cooking at home also allows you to prepare several meals without the environmental costs of traveling to pick up a single meal. 

Pro tip: Hive’s grocery options, featuring sustainable ingredients and packaging, make it easy for you to prepare great-tasting meals at home. 

10. Try Upcycled Goods

Upcycling is a practice that takes unused foods that would otherwise be wasted and repurposes them to make something of greater value. For example, snack makers like Brewer’s take the unused grains from breweries and upcycle them into delicious crackers and pita chips.

Saving resources and reducing waste is key to a sustainable lifestyle, and shopping for upcycled goods is a great approach.

Pro tip: Repurpose plastic bottles into bird feeders, storage containers, or planters.

11. Opt For Reusable Bags

infographic of person carrying reusable shopping bags

Whether you’re grabbing some items from the grocery store or shopping for clothes, using your own bag has more of an impact than you think. Plastic bags take 1,000 years to break down in a landfill and can be harmful to wildlife. One reusable bag can replace up to 500 single-use plastic bags per year, which can save 350,000 plastic bags in one person’s lifetime. Imagine if everyone did this! 

Pro tip: You can use compostable shopping bags, recycled paper bags, woven baskets (or even reusing store plastic bags) if you don’t have reusable shopping bags.

12. Focus On Renewable Resources

Renewable resources are materials that can be naturally replenished before they’re depleted, thus having a low environmental impact. They can be used to make everything from food, to building materials, and can even harnessed as an energy source. 

Some renewable resources include:

  • Hemp
  • Bamboo
  • Cotton
  • Wood
  • Wind

Companies like Dr. Bronner’s have a production facility completely powered by renewable energy!

Pro tip: Buy plant-based fabrics from renewable sources instead of those made from synthetic fibers.

13. Try Plant-Based Alternatives

More people are exploring and implementing plant-based alternatives in their diet when deciding how to live a more sustainable life. Switching to plant-based milk reduces greenhouse gas emissions (by three times!) and conserves more land and water than the dairy farming industry. Among the health benefits associated with plant-based diets are lower blood pressure, lower risk of cancer and diabetes, a boost in immune support, and mental health improvement. 

Pro tip: Substituting oat milk into your coffee or latte makes it taste better. Oat milk is naturally sweeter and thicker than 2% milk.  

14. Start a Garden

infographic of a garden with garden pulling leafy plant from soil

Gardens aren’t just for your grandma anymore. Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your backyard or a community garden is the perfect way to save money while knowing the origin of your food. A garden is a great way to start living sustainably and conserve resources while offsetting carbon emissions. 

Pro tip: Use cinnamon powder on seedlings to prevent fungus and diseases. Plus, it smells great! 

Be the Solution: Shop Sustainably

Small actions can add up over time and it’s important to be mindful of how each decision we make can impact the environment and future generations. Using these sustainability ideas can help us reduce our carbon footprint, conserve resources for the future, and start healing the planet. 

If you’re new to sustainable living, let us introduce you to our sustainable grocery store. It’s a convenient, online market that makes it easy for people to shop and buy what they believe in.

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