Sustainable living is rapidly becoming an incredibly popular way of life. Not only has it become quite trendy, it’s also doing a huge favour for Mother Nature. By opting for an eco-friendly and green lifestyle you are reducing your carbon footprint and your negative impact on the environment, which in today’s world, is something we all need to be aware of.
But despite its rising popularity, there is a common misconception that to go green you need to fork out a lot of money. This is not the case. Veggies are not more expensive than sausages and using vinegar as a cleaning product will probably cost you half the price of a spray bottle of multipurpose cleaner. There are plenty of simple and low-cost changes that you can make to your lifestyle in order to go green. Here are our top tips for greener and more eco-friendly living.
Learn to embrace leftovers
Did you know that agriculture is one of the key contributors to greenhouse gas emissions? If you avoid food wastage, you can stop unnecessary energy output and reduce carbon emissions. Planning all your meals for the week is an easy way to cut down on wasting food. If you only purchase what you know you’ll eat and what you know you’ll need for a certain recipe, you won’t have extra food crowding up your fridge. Not only is this good for the environment but it also makes it easier when the time comes to clean out your fridge. I know I’m not the only one who puts that chore off until it’s absolutely necessary.
Make sure you recycle
Recycling is one of the simplest and most effective ways you can start living a greener life. Although it’s probably the most obvious change you can make, you probably haven’t been recycling used goods and waste to their full potential. Did you know that you can put aerosol cans, phone books and even the envelopes with the little plastic windows in your weekly recycling bin? Almost anything can be recycled from organic waste to batteries, metal and even mobile phones.
Switch to natural cleaning products
For day-to-day cleaning, why not try some common pantry staples like vinegar, tea tree oil and bicarb soda. These natural cleaning products won’t pollute the air or leak nasty chemical residue into our waterways or the soil. It’s time to start listening to those old wives tales. Vinegar really does get rid of mould and bicarb soda is great for whitening your clothes. Alternatively, you can create your own DIY cleaning product. Just combine some Castile soap, essential oils and bicarb soda and voila! You’ve got yourself an all-purpose cleaner.
Switch off those energy-hungry appliances
There are many hidden power-hungry devices in our homes these days. Anything in standby mode, for example, gaming devices, TVs and even microwaves, is slowly and unbeknownst to you eating away at your electricity. Even appliances that we unnecessarily use on a day-to-day basis, such as hair dryers, consume a high amount of energy. Fun fact, the hair dryer is actually one of the highest wattage small appliances within the average household and when used at the highest setting, it can even use more power than a microwave. Although these may only be small amounts of energy, it can add up and contribute to your overall carbon footprint.
Cut down on your use of plastic
Although plastics are becoming more and more recyclable, they are still ending up in landfills, our oceans and the natural environment. The majority of plastics aren’t biodegradable, so this is incredibly detrimental to our planet. Instead of using plastic bags when you do your grocery shopping, invest in some green bags. These are reusable and made of material that won’t harm the environment. If you find yourself forgetting and leaving your green bags in the boot of your car (it happens to the best of us), hold on to the plastic bags that you accumulate over time. Many of the large chain supermarkets such as Coles and Woolies will now accept used plastic bags for recycling.
Another great way to cut down on your use of plastic is to purchase food that isn’t wrapped in plastic. If you’re buying veggies, opt for the loose variety rather than the packaged kind.
Give meat-free Mondays a crack
Limiting your weekly meat consumption can help you live a more sustainable and eco-friendly life. As previously mentioned, agriculture and livestock in particular are responsible for a large amount of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a well-known fact that the energy it takes to sustain livestock is greater than the energy it takes to produce and process vegetables and grains. If you’re a bit of a carnivore, simply adopting the meat-free Mondays approach is a great way to start living more sustainably. If cutting down on your meat intake is absolutely unthinkable, perhaps try eating locally-sourced rather than imported foods. You can also find ways to eat all of the animal so that nothing is wasted. For example, why not chuck the rest of last night’s roast chicken, carcass and all, in a pot with some water and veggies? It makes for a great winter soup as we enter the cooler months.
Opting for a greener way of living is not only good for your health, but for the wider environment too. And although it can seem a little daunting, with a few simple changes to your lifestyle you can do your bit for the environment whilst saving money too!
Bessie Hassan is the Money Expert at Australia’s most visited comparison website, finder.com.au.
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