Sustainable Living 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Sustainability has become more than a buzzword as more and more people are concerned about protecting the planet in any way they can, whether that means less waste, less energy or less water usage. The meaning of sustainable living involves reducing your carbon footprint and limiting how many natural resources you use in your day-to-day life. The result is a cleaner environment, a healthier home life and the joy that comes from taking action for the greater good. 

At S’well, we believe that small acts can create great change and we work diligently to make it easy to start on a path of sustainable living. What you may not realize is that you’re likely already following a green routine. Cities, companies and brands like S’well have paved the way by introducing sustainable development and best practices that are easy to follow without any interruption to our daily necessities. 

If you’re interested in how you can do more for the planet (and your personal wellness) by upping your eco-friendly game and lessening your environmental footprint, we have a few sustainable living ideas that’ll motivate you to get started right away. Each of your green efforts makes a difference in protecting the environment and will make you feel accomplished as you contribute to the greater good. 

Reduce Single-Use Plastic Usage When You Eat and Drink

One of the key ways to start a sustainable lifestyle is by knowing how to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Plastic is part of nearly everything that surrounds us. From single-use plastic bags used in stores to the plastic packaging materials from our favorite take-out spots, avoiding it can seem overwhelming. However, to lead a more sustainable life, there are plenty of ways to cut back on how much is used.

The first step is to skip using single-use plastic water bottles in favor of a reusable alternative. If it’s recommended for a person to drink an average of 64 ounces of water a day, at least five to six single-use plastic water bottles are necessary to reach that daily limit. Instead, a reusable solution like our stainless steel water bottle provides a cost-effective, stylish way to stay hydrated without having to rely on single-use plastic bottled water at all. Plus, its advanced vacuum insulation keeps your drinks colder (or hotter) for longer. Nothing’s worse than cool water that becomes tepid too quickly. Now you can have a refreshing drink for hours on end without having to worry about refilling with freshly chilled water or resorting back to a grab-and-go plastic bottle.

It’s not only eliminating single-use plastic water bottles that can help you reduce your usage. Replacing plastic storage containers with stainless steel options does the trick for keeping foods at their desired temperature for longer, as well. This makes it convenient to take with you wherever you go without needing a refrigerator or cooler to maintain quality. 

Forget about sad-looking lunches in plasticware and switch things up with a stylish, sustainable storage solution with S’well Eats™ or S’nack by S’well®. They’re perfect to pack for work lunches, picnics at the park and road trips. 

Recycle or Upcycle Household Goods

Does your home need a refresh? Before you start decluttering and throwing everything in the garbage, consider what can be recycled or upcycled to be used for another purpose. Separate your cleaning tasks into piles of items that are definitely trash and others that can be recycled, such as hangers and shoe boxes. Donate clothes and shoes in good condition to your favorite local charity and then survey all your remaining furniture and decor to determine what you can upcycle into a new piece. 

For example, used candle jars can be utilized as pretty plant pots after you’ve cleaned out the remaining wax. Shelving can feel brand new with a fresh coat of paint. Use old dresser drawers as under-the-bed storage rather than discarding it all. Anything that’s lost its original use can likely be turned into a new home project with the right care and inexpensive updates. It prolongs the life of what you have and adds a new sparkle to your home at the same time. These are just a couple examples of how to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle.

Grow Your Own Garden

One of the most creative and functional sustainable living ideas is gardening and growing your own food. Make it your new go-to activity and start growing fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Depending on your space, you can extend your garden as much as your area can handle. To start a full garden, tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins are all popular items. Visit your local garden nursery for pointers on what’s in season and what’s needed in order for your bounty to thrive.

For smaller apartment homes, start a windowsill herb garden to add freshness to any meal. Getting part of your daily diet from your own harvesting efforts lets you know exactly where your food is coming from and eliminates the maintenance, handling, and shipping of whatever you grow. You can even rest assured that no harmful chemicals were used to grow your fresh produce. Plus, it’s fun seeing your plants begin to sprout and know whenever you need a snack or a pop of freshness for your meal, you can just “shop” from your own garden.

Walk, Bike, or Take Public Transportation 

Lower your carbon footprint by driving less. Even if you live in a city where a car is essential, rely on other modes of transportation a few times a week when possible. This includes taking public transportation, biking to work, or walking around your neighborhood to run errands and support local shops. 

Not only does reducing your reliance on vehicles save you on gas and maintenance, it benefits the environment since there are fewer carbon emissions being released into the air. The bonus is fresh air and regular exercise feels good when you pick from these new methods of getting around.

Buy Sustainable Products

One of the best sustainable living tips is taking the time to read the labels of your current favorite products and see if there are alternatives you can use that will give you the same great result. Brands are stepping up their game as they focus on providing sustainable products that are made responsibly. Although not all companies are 100% sustainable, there have been massive strides to creating better packaging and sourcing materials in sustainable ways. You can look for labels like Certified B Corporation to help identify brands that have verified higher standards of commitment to creating products sustainably, while treating workers, partners and communities with care.

Industries from beauty and clothing to food and beverage are creating ways for living a greener lifestyle easier and more affordable for all. Many companies follow environmentally-ethical best practices by also donating part of their proceeds to charities and advocacy organizations. Knowing what you use in your daily life is not having a negative environmental impact makes it worthwhile to make the switch.

Use Natural Light and Conserve Water

One of the easiest sustainable living tips is being mindful of your energy consumption. Turn off your lamps and overhead lights and position your furniture and reap the benefits of natural light. In areas where the sunshine doesn’t peek in, replace regular light bulbs with LED alternatives to increase energy efficiency. This will reduce the amount of energy needed to light your home. Additionally, whenever you leave a room or leave your home, make sure lights and electronics are shut off to conserve energy when not in use. 

Take it a step further and consult with your local energy provider about the possibility of installing an energy-efficient thermostat. It will regulate your home’s temperature and optimize use for different times of the day. 

Conserve water resources by taking shorter showers and leave baths to a luxury experienced only once in a while. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes rather than leave a constant stream running the entire time. This will save gallons of water every minute. Another way to reduce water usage is washing full loads of laundry and dishes. It saves on water and keeps your electricity bill down. These energy switches will make a big difference in your sustainability efforts. 

Make a Weekly Grocery List

Eliminate food waste in your home by planning out meals for the week and shopping for ingredients accordingly. Eat ripe produce within a few days before it goes bad and consider starting a compost pile, especially if you start your own garden. Additionally, shop locally when possible and support local farmers, artisans, and other small businesses. This cuts down on the amount of fuel needed for transportation and ensures you have fresher food available.

Taking the time to think through your week and only buy the food you’ll have time to prepare or freeze will save on the amount of food waste you’re contributing on a regular basis. It’ll also inspire you to try new recipes and enjoy time spent cooking, putting you on track for healthy living. 

Start Small and Create a Big Impact

By changing your daily habits a little at a time, you’ll be more mindful of the resources you’re using during the day and what habits can be changed to lead a more sustainable life. Get started by incorporating at least one or two of these sustainable living ideas on a regular basis and add from there. Whether it’s taking shorter showers or skipping the drive to work and riding a bike instead, there are ways you can test what works best for you to live comfortably, while also lessening your environmental impact.  

Staying tuned into the part you play for creating a healthier planet is the beginning point. Soon, all of the separate changes you make will result in a fully-fledged sustainable lifestyle. It creates a healthier space for you and has a positive impact on the environment.