Let me guess what comes to mind when imaging sustainable living. Perhaps this involves exclusively shopping at health food or zero-waste shops and stuffing your basket with organic produce. You envision larders filled with aesthetic jars, cupboards with every fancy reusable item under the sun and wardrobes packed with clothes from pricier sustainable brands.
This is not the image I want to sell you today. Today, I want to describe how living sustainably can be accessible for everyone. Simple switches can make so much difference to our earth. As a avid nature lover and conservationist, I've adopted many of these in my own life. A bonus is that all of these tips should even save you money. Now who can argue with that...
Tip 1 - Consume less
This one is bound to save you money. We live in a consumer society, which requires a lot of resources to create items and a lot of waste when they are eventually thrown away to clog up landfill and pollute our earth. Sustainability, like any market, is prone to advertising 'must-have' items in order to live sustainably. However, a lot of the time, it would be far more sustainable to use what you already have. Try setting yourself rules, like spending limits and practising 'no spend' weeks/months, where only essential items are bought. Stay tuned for my upcoming 'How-To' blog on how to budget like a minimalist for some more tips on saving your cash and the planet.
Tip 2 - Buy less meat and dairy
Although I am vegan myself, I appreciate that this lifestyle isn't accessible for everyone. Even reducing your meat and dairy a little, say 1 day a week, can make a massive difference as it reduces the harmful greenhouse gases that are released through the production of these food products. Vegan food has a unjustified reputation of being expensive. Some of the cheapest food in the supermarket are vegan, like loose fruit and veg, pulses and grains. If you are on a budget, opt for these rather than the 'veganised' products e.g. ready-meals.
Tip 3 - Bulk buy
This doesn't have to mean buying a year's supply of oats in a burlap sack, although that would be awesome. Generally, buying in bulk saves money on items that you use regularly. However, not everyone has the upfront cash or storage space (which I have first hand experience of living in a caravan!) to do this at a large scale. Even opting for the slightly bigger item, say a larger jar of peanut butter, will mean that less packaging is discarded overall. A perfect excuse to gorge on peanut butter guilt free....
Tip 4 - Second hand shopping
I've written a previous 'How-To' blog here with the best tips on finding good quality second hand clothing. You can buy pretty much anything second hand these days and the interest is full of options. We are planning to furnish our tiny home (find out more about this here) primarily with off casts that we can spruce up to be unique to us. Resourcing items second hand means that fewer new items have to be made (which uses resources) and saves items from going straight to landfill. Its an awesome way to save our planet.
Tip 5 - Walk more
This is an age-old sustainable method of travelling and a fantastic way to lower your carbon footprint. Lower your Co2 emissions, strap on your walking shoes and enjoy the fresh air once and a while. Warning, walking can be addictive...
Tip 6 - Repurpose and Repair
I'll say it, people have become lazy. As buying something new is usually the easiest option, I can see why it is appealing. Try using your own resources and a little imagination once in a while and you'd be surprised what you can come up with. From using old sauce jars to store your food to learning to darn socks, all these practises can reduce your impact on the environment. A reminder that its worth pausing before hitting buy. There may be another option that will also save your bank account groaning...
Tip 7 - Switch it up
Switching to a renewable energy supplier, like Bulb, Ecotricity and Good Energy, can be a fantastic contribution to reducing emissions. All these companies offer competitive prices so its worth doing your research. You can also switch to a bank that has more environmental and ethical practises, such as Triodos. Even simply switching your internet browser can improve your environmental footprint. Ecosia, for example, plants a tree for every internet search. There are so many fantastic options now!
Tip 8 - Turn it off
I may sound like a nagging dad here, but turning off electrics that you aren't using is a small but important effort in the fight against climate change. And, again, saves you money. Its a win win.
One of my primary missions for this blog was to make sustainable and simple living accessible to everyone. Our home and our wildlife companions are under real threat. As a conservationist on the front line, the impacts of human behaviour are all too real. But we are also the solution and I am constantly inspired by what we can do when we ALL put our minds to it. So even if you take one of these tips away today, nature will thank you...
Comment below with any of your own sustainable switches. Lets get this movement started!