Today’s post is all about sustainable and eco living. I’m going to talk about 3 super simple green living tips that anyone can do right now.
When I first wrote this blog post, I actually intended to write about 6 green living tips. I quickly found out that I apparently have a lot to say on the topic though! Because my post ended up being way too long. So I decided to split this post up into a part 1 and part 2. This post will be about my first 3 eco living tips, and I’ll release a second post tomorrow on my next 3.
For anyone who’s read my blog before, you’ll know that talking about topics related to eco living, the zero waste movement, reducing consumption, etc… is really important to me! I believe that thinking critically about our consumption choices is something everyone should be doing. It’s important whether it’s our fashion consumption we’re analyzing, technology, cleaning products, or thinking up ways to reduce our food waste.
All of these things are hyper-relevant to today’s world, and the problems our planet is facing.
Though I usually talk about various ways to reduce waste and consumption, today I’m instead going to talk about eco living in a more general sense. Sustainable living is definitely a discussion on consumption, but it’s also a conversation on a mindset. It’s about embracing a new way of thinking, just as much as changing our actions or the products we use.
Without further wait, let’s talk about eco living, and these 5 super simple tips that anyone can do right now. You can implement these green living ideas if you live in a house, an apartment, the city, or the country. If you’re new to this topic, I hope it’s a good introduction on how to live a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re already a seasoned sustainability veteran, I hope there are a few tips in here that are possibly new to you! So let’s begin!
Why Is Eco Friendly Living Important?
I like to start off every post on the environment that I write with a description of the problem (so the solutions make sense). Or put more simply, why sustainable living is important.
I’ll cut right to the chase: There are currently 7.7 billion people on the planet.
And if every one of those 7.7 billion people lived like people in the U.S. did, we’d need 5 earths to sustain all of our resource consumption. This number calculates water consumption, fossil fuels, electricity, land, food, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.
What is Our Global Footprint?
Anyone familiar with Earth Overshoot Day will also know about this topic. Basically, Earth Overshoot Day “marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.” In 2019, that date happened on July 29.
So clearly, the way humanity is currently living, is not sustainable. And THIS is why eco living is important.
By the way, anyone who is interested in calculating their own personal global footprint, can take this quick and fun test to learn more.
Instead of living like we all have 5 earths worth of resources, let’s work together to accept the reality we’re in – which is that we only have one!
Eco Living Tip #1: Air Dry Your Laundry
Yep, you read that right. The first green living change you can make is as simple as air drying your laundry more often. The reason it makes the list is that it’s a great way for us to conserve our energy use.
Did you know that laundry drying machines are in the top 5 for most power hungry devices in the average home? Any appliance that uses heat, especially to the extent that dryers do, use a ton of electricity. Yet at the same time, they are a complete luxury! And by that I mean they aren’t a necessity.
I was thinking about my energy use recently (and doing research about where most energy in the home is used) and had an epiphany. So allow me to introduce my latest eco purchase: the clothes drying rack!
When it comes to eco living and green living ideas, I’ve discovered that more often than not the solutions to our problems are to revert back to a simpler way of doing things. Re-training myself to think “air dry first” and “machine dry as a last resort” has been an adjustment, but I think it’s a perfect example of how simple, old fashioned solutions can often trump modern/complex ones.
Europe and Asia Are Sustainable Living Examples We Can All Learn From
Drying racks, clothes lines, and air drying in general used to be how laundry was done. There was no other way – and it worked well for hundreds of years.
But in many parts of the world, air drying is still the main method for doing laundry. I was surprised the first time I ever went to Europe, to learn how unpopular drying machines were. Most of my European friends use drying racks in their homes, and are surprised to learn that in America most people use drying machines instead. In fact, few Europeans that I’ve ever met even own a drying machine in their home. They’re just not common.
I visited Asia recently, and I noticed that in all of the AirBnBs we stayed at they had drying racks instead of machines. And thinking back, even my first few trips to Asia I remember now relying primarily on drying racks. Most hostels I’ve stayed at have drying machines, but that could be because they are used to catering to a diverse range of foreigners (and so they supplied machines because they would be familiar).
Go Green With A Drying Rack
Anyways, I’m not sure why it took me so long, but something recently clicked in my mind and I thought to myself, “why in the world don’t I use a drying rack?”
I’ve been using my drying rack for all of my laundry needs for about a month now, and I honestly think it’s made laundry more fun! Every time I walk by it I smile and feel good. I guess it’s because it has become a reminder that I’m continuing to make steps in the right direction and improve the way I live. I get a sense of joy from knowing that.
I looked in thrift shops for months to find a used drying rack, but had no luck. So in the end, I purchased this stainless steel rack from online. I used to air-dry certain shirts and clothing made from a certain material, but I hung them on doors and door knobs throughout the apartment. Now I can fit 2 large loads of laundry on my drying rack!
There’s nothing wrong with the door and door knob route, but having a dedicated space/item that allows me to dry lots of clothes at once has been a big improvement.
If you have a yard, balcony, or patio, you could also easily set up an air drying station outdoors! You could do this by setting up a line between trees, or by using a rack. Especially in the summertime, just letting the sun dry your laundry is a great way to get it done fast, save energy, and save money all at the same time. A fun perk of air drying indoors though, is that it will increase the humidity of your home. For dry-skin sufferers (such as myself), this can be a really nice bonus!
And yeah, that ‘save money’ footnote is no joke. Anything that conserves electricity use in your home also saves you a lot of money on your energy bills each month – so win win!
Eco Living Tip #2: Rely on Air Conditioning and Heating Less
Remember when I said that dryer machines are in the top 5 for energy use in the home? Well central air conditioning/heating is number 1 by a large margin.
I didn’t include this as eco living tip #1 because I wanted to start out with an “easy” one. You know, ease you into the post with some low-hanging fruit. And I get it, trying to rely on home air/heating less can be really challenging especially depending on where you live in the world.
Is Green Living Possible In Extreme Climates?
I happen to live in Georgia right now. If you’ve never been, allow me to just summarize it like this: IT’S HOT.
So I know how much air conditioning is a blessing, believe me. But my husband and I have really put an effort in this summer to rely on it less.
We even recently got this nifty floor fan to run in the room we happen to be in at the time, to keep things cooler. It’s actually helped A LOT. And it uses WAY less energy than central air!
I happened to grow up in Michigan, where winters can be frigid and extreme. So I also know what a blessing central heating can be.
But I learned something about myself recently, something that I think is actually true of all of us. We can withstand a lot more than we think we can.
In the western world, I think we’ve become so accustomed to modern luxuries like central air, central heating, drying machines, etc. that we forget they aren’t necessities. I think we forget that people all over the world (living in more extreme locations than us) survive just fine without these things.
So this summer we agreed to keep our thermostat above 80 degrees F during the day, as an experiment. We average around 85 F most weeks, and only let it dip below 80 at nights. We keep that floor fan I mentioned running in any room we happen to be in, and then use that and the ceiling fan in the bedroom at night to sleep.
Most people would balk at the idea of setting their thermostat above 80, let alone at 85 or 86. But interestingly enough, we’ve adjusted. Yes, it’s hot. Georgia is hot. But we’ve adjusted, and life has moved on.
Eco Living: Winter Edition
In the winter, we plan to repeat this same strategy. Keep it well below what most people would set it at, and rely on blankets and warm clothing to get the job done. We also have plans to buy a house within the next year, and hope to find one with a fireplace. This will allow us to rely on that as much as possible for heating through the winter instead of gas/electricity.
My point is, central air and heating in a home are a blessing, but also a luxury. Are they nice to have? Absolutely! But I think we should all try to remember them for the luxuries they are. Put a sweater on in the winter, and plug an electric fan in during the summer. Bonus points: if you live in a more northern climate, summers can be made extra enjoyable by just keeping the windows open to get a cross breeze going! It’ll air out your home and keep the temperature down.
And remember, this eco living tip, just like #1, comes with money savings too. It’s estimated that for every 1 degree you turn your thermostat down/up to (depending on winter or summer), you’ll save 1% in your energy bill that month. So ask yourself, how much money do you want to save?
Eco Living Tip #3: DIY Home Products
Did you know that you can DIY laundry detergent, hand soap, home cleaners, perfume, toners, lotions, air fresheners and other common household products?
I’ve written about my DIY zero waste laundry detergent recipe before, and I think it’s a great example. I’ve also talked about my recipe for an all purpose home cleaner before.
Some people get it into their heads that they need harsh chemical cleaning solutions in order to “get the job done.” But think about it, these products didn’t always exist. Things like febreeze, separate lotions for hand, body, face, surface cleaners, stain removers, separate solutions for wiping glass vs. wood, etc. Many of these products exist simply because marketing campaigns have convinced us that we need them. Though modern advertising has convinced otherwise, the truth is, natural ingredients and substances, can be just as effective at cleaning as their chemical counterparts.
But DIYing home products is an age-old art that’s been around for a long time. Once again, I think that returning to simplicity, or simpler times, is the solution we need.
Why DIY Eco Friendly Cleaning Products Are Awesome
Most commercial products contain a list of nasty chemicals that are very damaging to the environment. Factory run-off where these products are made leech into the ground and pollute waterways. This process also happens when we throw the product away, and it gets sent to a landfill. Residues leak out and once again cause pollution. Discarded home cleaning products, and their factory production are also a significant source of air pollution in urban areas.
But wait, there’s more! Most, if not all of these products are also sold in plastic. I’ve talked many times before about the problems with plastic, how it’s destroying the environment and killing wildlife… And also how we should all be making an effort to shift away from it.
Trying to DIY your top 3 or 5 most used home products, in an effort to rely on less chemicals and plastic, is a great way to improve your environmental impact. Producing less waste in general is a big theme when it comes to eco living, and it’s one of the reasons so many sustainable living ideas revolve around reducing our waste.
Below I’ve included a list of my favorite DIY recipes for home products. Most of them I have tried, though some of them are on my “want to try” list. Either way, I hope you find it useful and you consider giving some of these a try!
- Laundry Detergent
- Moisturizing Lotion
- All Purpose Cleaner and Hand Soap (#5 on list)
- DIY Body Spray
- Homemade Candles
- Lip Balm
- Toilet Cleaner
- Air Freshener/Febreze
If you do try some of them, I’d love to hear what your experience was like! I’m fairly new to the world of DIY, but I’m quickly finding out that I love it. Remember though, when it comes to acquiring ingredients for some of these DIY projects (like shea butter, coconut oil, etc.) try and find versions of these things sold in sustainable packaging like glass!
The Best Eco Friendly Products Are Homemade
I wanted to quickly mention that exploring the world of DIY as a means to sustainable living doesn’t just stop at home products. In fact, it’s just the beginning! I’ve talked before in my post about reducing food waste that learning how to DIY common grocery store purchases like bread is a great way to reduce waste. The DIY mindset can be applied to home cleaning, cooking, clothing, repairing things (vs. replacing), and so much more.
The more we rely on our own wits, talent, and ingenuity to solve problems, the more environmentally friendly our lifestyle becomes.
This isn’t always the case, of course. But I’ve started to realize that by relying on myself more, I’m able to reduce my waste and environmental footprint significantly. By buying less, DIYing more, and doing things “the old fashioned way” more, I’m living a much more sustainable life.
Eco Living Conclusions
I hope you enjoyed this introductory post on eco living and green living tips. For more sustainable living ideas, check out part 2 of this series here!
I hope this post was informational, maybe inspiring, and as always, thank you for reading. 🙂