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Living and eco friendly or zero waste lifestyle can sound a little overwhelming.
You want to do your part to save the planet, but exactly how crazy do we need to get?
Personally, I’m not giving up things like toilet paper. I’m DEFINITELY not using cloth diapers either.
But that being said, there is a lot we can do.
Some eco friendly lifestyle changes will fit your life better than others. Start small. Start easy.
The easier it is to incorporate some of these changes in your life, the easier it will be to stick with them.
And once you conquer a few positive changes, I bet you’ll be inspired to do even more. You’ll probably inspire friends and family around you too.
Our Favorite Eco Friendly Small Changes That Make a Big Difference
Here is a round up of totally easy eco friendly lifestyle changes you can adopt today.
Seriously, pick a few and tackle them.
When you have the privilege and access to purchase better products and make better choices, there is really no excuse.
1. Use canvas or resuable bags.
We’ve all heard about using resuable shopping bags. And we’ve all forgotten them in our cars. This is SUCH an easy eco friendly lifestyle swap that for some reason is hard to remember.
Our trick is to leave 3-4 large canvas or resuable bags in your trunk so you always have them with you. The more often you can do it, the stronger the habit will get.
We only use single-use plastic bags for an average of 12 minutes. Then, 90% of them end up as litter or in a landfill. Check out more single-use plastic bag facts.
If you need some good reusable bag options, check out a set like these organic cotton mesh shopping bags. They come in a variety of sizes and have produce bags so you can opt out of the plastic ones at the store too.
At a minimum, opt for paper bags instead of plastic!
2. Reuse existing plastic products.
Get creative with existing plastic products. If you have single use containers, think of ways to reuse them.
Don’t worry about having to get creative. Just search online for the thousands of existing ideas to find something you’ll love.
AND of course, buy an amazing eco friendly water bottle! These are our favorite toxin free water bottles on Amazon.
We love these 20 ways to reuse empty plastic bottles.
3. Carry your own travel mug.
Every time you drive through Starbucks you’re burning through disposable products. Cups, straws, napkins, it really adds up.
You can still get your favorite Starbucks order, just bring your own eco friendly lifestyle cup! Your barista will be happy to fill your cup. Many brands actually give discounts for bringing your own cup.
Here are just a few:
- Caribou Coffee: 10 cent discount
- Dunkin’: discounted refill price
- Einstein Bros. Bagels: discounted refill price
- Gloria Jean’s: 50 cent discount
- Panera: discounted refill price
- Peet’s Coffee: 10 cent discount
- Starbucks: 10 cent discount
Lots of local coffee shops offer discounts too. Just ask!
4. Opt out of paper receipts.
How many times a day do you hear, would you like a copy of your receipt? A simple no can greatly reduce the amount of non-recyclable paper heading out into the universe.
Receipts are technically recyclable, but you may do more harm than good. Many receipts are coated in BPA. Recycling or composting them means contaminating the rest of your materials, and putting more BPA back in to the earth.
Your skin can actually absorb BPA from receipts with as little as five seconds of exposure. Check out more receipt recycling info.
5. Say no to plastic shopping bags.
We already talked about bringing your own canvas bags. But you can also just refuse unnecessary plastic ones.
Ever walk into a store to buy one item? You get to the car, take out your item and realize the bag was totally unnecessary?
Just say no.
My new favorite line in stores is, “I’ll just carry it, I’d rather save a bag!” The cashiers usually smile and nod.
6. Save paper towels for emergencies.
Have you noticed people use paper towels for EVERYTHING? One tiny drop of water and we’ve got the paper towels out. Need napkins for dinner? Don’t worry, we’ve got the paper towels!
Save paper towels for emergencies and use real towels or cloth napkins instead. We have a whole drawer of matching kitchen towels (probably about 15 of them) that we use ALL. DAY. LONG.
I’m talking like we go through probably about five a day. We use them for spills, napkins, drying. You name it.
We wash them with other laundry a few times a week and it’s not sweat off our back, but does greatly reduce the amount of waste leaving our house on a weekly basis.
7. Recycle everything you can.
It’s so easy to be lazy. Instead of dropping a whole product or packaging in the garbage, break it down.
A lot of times part of packaging can’t be recycled, but some pieces can. For example the plastic bag container toy pieces needs to be trashed, but the box the toy came in could be recycled.
Start looking at each item more carefully to see how you can maximize the recyclable percentage. Once you get used to this eco friendly lifestyle habit it will start to be automatic.
8. Buy LED lights.
LED lights are made of non-toxic materials and 100% recyclable.
Forget about fluorescent or incandescent lights. LED lights are more environmentally friendly, and they last way longer too.
With so many more LED lights on the market, this eco friendly lifestyle change is super easy. It’s silly to buy anything else.
9. Turn off your lights.
Turning off your lights is great for both your wallet, and the environment. This eco friendly lifestyle change helps reduce electricity usage, and extends the life of your bulbs, meaning your purchasing new ones less often.
A great general rule of thumb is the 15 minute rule. If you won’t be returning to the room within 15 minutes, just turn them off.
Many energy companies include cool stats about your electricity usage on your bill. They even compare your general usage to neighbors in the area.
Check out your stats and then see if you can improve month over month.
10. Don’t leave the water running.
This eco friendly lifestyle change has been around for ages, but SO many people still aren’t doing it.
Water seems innocent enough. Why is using more of it so bad?
It’s not the actual water that’s the problem, it’s how we get it.
The water we use is treated and pumped, which uses energy, chemicals, and reservoirs. Reducing water consumption reduces carbon emissions. That means less greenhouse gasses, and less climate change.
The easiest tips for saving more water?
- Repair leaky faucets and toilets
- Shorten shower times
- Use water conserving faucets and shower heads
- Turn off faucets when brushing teeth
- Cover your pool when not in use
- Use eco friendly landscaping practices
11. Hang dry your clothes.
Using a drying rack can save energy AND money. Apparently dryers use more energy than refrigerators, washers and dishwashers.
Who would have known?
You can buy a drying rack to keep in your laundry room and hang dry your clothes. You may find this gentler approach lengthens the life of your clothes too. Plus no surprise shrinking!
Plus there are great collapsible drying racks so space never has to be an issue.
12. Stop unnecessary purchases.
We are officially in a world that craves instant gratification. That usually means if we think we need something, we buy it immediately. And thanks to Amazon, we can get it almost immediately.
Unfortunately a lot of the time we are impulse buying, barely using, and then throwing away products.
Instead of jumping to buy a product the SECOND you think of it, slow down.
Come up with a purchasing process. Brainstorm what other options you have. Reuse a different product? Get creative? Alter something existing? Get a used option?
You’ll find this eco friendly lifestyle change is a win for the environment and your wallet.
13. Keep a small recycling bin in your bathroom.
I don’t know about you, but we just have a small garbage can in our bathroom. That means, whenever I am opening a product or throwing something away in the bathroom, it goes straight to trash.
By adding a small recycling can I’m giving myself the opportunity to recycle everywhere in my house, not just my kitchen.
If your house is more compact you may not need this. If you have multiple floors and a lot of space, we recommend it!
14. Shop at farmers markets.
Shopping at farmers markets is fun, but it’s also super eco friendly too.
For one, your supporting small, local farms.
Small family farms produce less environmental waste (think carbon monoxide, pesticides, chemical fertilizers) and are less likely to use giant machinery that contributes to environmental issues.
Buying food local also cuts down on transportation needs. Think about the thousands of miles your food can travel to get to the grocery store. When you buy at a farmers market you’re avoiding all the unnecessary fossil fuels.
A lot of time farmers markets are outside, so no electricity or heating needed.
There is typically less packaging on farmers market foods too. Produce is picked right off the table of basket, and doesn’t even have the non-recyclable stickers found at the store.
As you can see, the benefits are endless!
15. Avoid single use products.
Single use products are exactly what they sound like. Something you use once, and then throw away.
Unfortunately many of these single use products are not recyclable and end up in a landfill. The best eco friendly lifestyle change is to try and avoid them altogether!
Common single use product examples:
- Plastic cutlery
- Plastic shopping bags
- Plastic coffee cups, lids, and stirrers
- Plastic water bottles
- Plastic sandwich baggies
- Styrofoam takeout containers
- Plastic wrap
- Cigarette butts
- Bottle caps
- Food wrappers
- Disposable party supplies
The best news? There are awesome options to replace all of these products. Just google the name of the single use product you want to eliminate + alternative and you’ll be amazed what comes up.
You’d be surprised how many awesome alternatives there are to plastic sandwich baggies. There’s so many we actually wrote a whole post highlighting our 7 favorite reusable plastic bags.
16. Take shorter showers.
No one loves a long shower more than myself. There is something so relaxing about a warm shower where no one is bothering you.
BUT, we have to put the planet first.
Shortening your shower by just 2 minutes could cut your water usage by 10 gallons! Say what!
Yep, the average shower uses about 5 gallons of water a minute.
If you easily lose track of time, set a timer next to the shower!
17. Ditch single use plastic beauty products.
You can easily minimize a lot of plastic waste from your beauty and personal care routine. So many more companies are creating eco conscious products, you actually have a lot to choose from!
A few ideas?
- Swap liquid soaps for bar soaps (eliminating plastic bottles)
- Swap plastic packaging for glass bottles (glass is recyclable!)
- Switch to refillable beauty products (keep the original packaging & insert refills)
- Stop buying mini travel size products (refill/reuse small bottles instead)
- Swap dental floss to biodegradable floss in glass packaging
- Swap q-tips for bamboo cotton buds
- Swap single use cotton products for reusable cotton wipes
18. Unplug unused appliances.
A lot of appliances nicknamed “vampire appliances” use up electricity even when they’re not on. To save on energy unplug these appliances when you won’t be using them!
Vampire Appliances Examples:
- Gaming consoles
- Coffee makers
Too lazy to unplug everything individually? Consolidate some items together on a power trip cord so it’s just one switch.
19. Get ice cream in a cone.
One easy way to save a one use item is to get your ice cream in a cone!
Skipping the cup or sample spoons means less items heading out into the garbage every time you treat yourself at the ice cream shop.
20. Refuse freebies you don’t want or need.
Why do we have such a compulsion to take EVERY. FREE. THING. possible?
Have you noticed free stuff is never something you actually want? It’s total junk. And junk means that it was cheaply made with most likely toxic plastic materials.
In a nutshell, that means whatever free item you’re taking will end up in a landfill before you know it. You’ll take it, and you’ll throw it out.
Stop taking free junk. You’ll be adding less to landfills, and start sending the message to marketers that people don’t want it!
21. Repurpose trashed clothing as rags.
Have stained or ruined clothing that you can’t wear OR donate? Rip or cut the clothes up into rags.
Use them for cleaning. Keep a stash in different areas of the house. Even in your car.
Repurposing an item for a new purpose is a great way to maximize your waste output and prevent yourself from having to buy something new.
22. Use the “eco” setting on your dishwasher.
If you’re anything like me you probably just hit the “normal” setting on your dishwasher and run it.
Take a second to check out all the options your dishwasher has to offer. Is there an eco option? Energy efficient options? An option to air dry instead of heat dry?
Using a more efficient setting on your dishwasher will reduce your energy output.
23. Use the library.
It may be a little more annoying to have to wait or regularly return books, but using your library is totally eco friendly!
Instead of buying a new book everytime you want to read, just borrow on instead. You’ll be putting less waste out into the world after you’re done with your read, and it’s cheaper too!
Alternatively you could purchase digital versions of books and read them on a device instead.
24. Get rechargeable batteries.
Batteries are made up of such toxic chemicals that they have special disposal instructions.
Avoid throwing these in a landfill altogether by buying rechargeable batteries. Plus, you’ll save money.
Once you buy the batteries and charger once, you’re set!
25. Stop buying pre-cut fruits and veggies.
While pre-cut product is super convenient, it comes with tons of unnecessary plastic packaging.
Instead of buying the plastic containers (which by the way are WAY more expensive) just get the whole fruit and cut it up instead.
You can store it in your own eco friendly glass container at home.
We’re not asking you to do ALL of these eco friendly lifestyle changes. Just choose a few to get started and see how it feels!
Heck, you can even choose ONE and you’ll be better off than you were before.
It’s easy to fall into the trap that making one small change in your life won’t have an impact on the entire world, but it does.
Plus, once you make one positive eco friendly lifestyle change, you’ll more than likely be inspired to do some more.