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What Is Sustainable Living? + 10 Ways to Live Your Best Sustainable Life in 2023

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SKL Contributing Writer


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My name is Danielle and I am a mother of two, wife, CEO, and lover of vintage treasures. I created SKL in 2020 to help our community in their need for well-researched and trust-worthy articles, listicles and guides to live a more sustainable and healthy life. So happy to have you here!


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The term “sustainable living” is tossed around so much nowadays, but what does it actually mean? What does sustainable living encompass and how can we live our very best and unique sustainable life?

Today on SKL, we are going to answer all your burning questions on sustainable living and hit on 10 super simple ways to incorporate sustainable living into your everyday life.

10 Ways To Incorporate Sustainable Living In Everyday Life.

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What Is Sustainable Living?

Climate change has become a pressing issue in the last few years, so people are finding ways to become more eco-friendly.

Sustainable living means your lifestyle positively impacts the environment instead of harming it.

It encompasses multiple facets of your life like energy consumption, transportation, food, fashion, and much more. Sustainable living aims to reverse the human-caused effects on the planet. 

How Can I Start My Sustainable Living Journey?

The best way to start any type of journey is to educate yourself, find trusted resources, create a plan, and take small (but mighty) steps.

Romulus and Remus didn’t build Rome in a day, and the same logic applies to your sustainability journey. We recommend starting with one category of sustainable living that interests you the most. Whether this is recycling, sustainable fashion, upcycling, repairing, green energy, etc. Pick one category, get to know it well, and take those first steps!

Slowly but surely, the substitutions will compound and eventually make your life better. 

*Note: One big bonus to starting with one category of sustainable living at a time? You will become a semi-expert in this field and be able to educate your family and community! Imagine if a family of 5 each had their own focus on one subject of sustainable living – we would have 5 experts in each category to really make some amazing changes.

Can I Practice Sustainable Living in a City?

There are many ways to live a green lifestyle in a city. One of the best ways is to take advantage of public transportation, such as metro lines, trains, and buses.

Subways and metros are better for the environment because they produce 76% fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than cars. Buses emit about 33% less, so public transportation is an excellent way to start sustainable living in a city.

Transportation is only the tip of the iceberg for sustainable living in the city. Some other ways to help the environment include:

  • Composting: Composting is an accessible way to live sustainably. This practice entails using food scraps from potatoes, oranges, and other organic matter and converting it naturally into a fertilizer. Composting reduces waste in landfills, and you can use it for potted plants in the window. Check out our simple guide to composting – even in the smallest spaces!
  • Recycling: Cities nationwide have upped their recycling programs and encouraged residents to participate. For example, Denver, Colorado, started a system in 2023 where the city will collect recycling bins and compost from its residents. The program encourages people to recycle steel and aluminum in addition to food and plastic.  Check out our 10 most common recycling mistakes to avoid during your sustainable living journey!
  • Advocacy: Some cities don’t yet have dedicated programs for recycling, composting, and other sustainable practices. An effective way to start them is through advocacy. Your local government is more likely to listen if large groups of people push for these policies. E-mails, phone calls, and petitions work wonders. Having your apartment building, for example, sign a sheet to introduce a composting station in your building is a wonderful way to use a petition.

Recommended Books & Podcasts For A Sustainable Lifestyle:

Literature and media are terrific ways to educate yourself about sustainability. You can listen to podcasts at work, in the park, or wherever you please. Try the “Outrage + Optimism” podcast, featuring host Christiana Figueres, a former United Nations (UN) secretary. You can also try “How to Save a Planet,” a podcast exclusively on Spotify that teaches you what you can do to improve the Earth’s future.

There are many terrific books (and audiobooks) available:

10 Easy Steps To Your Best Sustainable Life in 2023

An environmentally conscious lifestyle doesn’t mean you must do everything at once. Start little by little and use these 10 ideas to become more sustainable in your everyday life.

1. Recycle Electronics

Electronics are the norm today. You encounter them daily, whether on a phone, computer, TV or smartwatch. The only way to avoid your technology is to go camping and leave your gadgets at home. 

The increased use of electronics has led to more e-waste, and you can reduce this by searching your home for broken or unused devices. You may find an old cellphone, gaming console, computer mouse or charger. Instead of throwing them away, bring these items to places like Best Buy or Goodwill that will take your old electronics off your hands. Preserving them is critical, especially if they still work. The U.S. has the second-most amount of e-waste worldwide, with about 7 million tons produced annually.  

Some websites will take tech donations or buy them from you. One example is Gizmogo, a California-based company that accepts phones, tablets, laptops and more. Gizmogo will buy your gadgets even if they don’t work. They’ll wipe all your data and refurbish the device for another user. 

2. Be More Conscious With Your Closet

Another way you can be more sustainable is with your clothing. Be honest for a minute. What percentage of your clothes do you regularly wear? If you have blouses and jeans you haven’t worn in a few years, it may be time to consider clearing out your closet. However, you don’t have to throw them away.

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First off, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do these unwanted clothes just need some good TLC (like a repair, fabric shaving, or hem?)
  2. Can I upcycle these clothes into something else? (You’d be surprised!)
  3. Is there someone I know who would want this?
  4. Is this piece of clothing in wearable condition or have they reached the end of its life?

If you are set on giving the clothing away, finding a new owner is one of the most sustainable ways to go about “donating”. If you have Facebook, use the Marketplace function to see if anybody wants to buy your stuff. You can also post the items for free on Marketplace, no need to make a profit if you don’t want to.

You can also join a no-buy group in your area!

Another fun way to get rid of a lot of clothing is to take your items to a thrift shop.

If you wish to use the donation option, our team recommends you choose a local shelter to visit and bring the clothes in personally. This way, you can get to know the shelter and understand its needs.

Lastly, in case the piece is no longer wearable, check out our article on 25 best places to recycle clothes that can no longer be donated!

3. Shop Slow Fashion Brands (either secondhand or new!)

You might not realize it, but the fashion industry has hindered sustainability. The sector has been detrimental to the environment, with 92 million tons of garments ending up in landfills annually. How many people — especially celebrities — do you know who buy clothes and only wear them for a season? 

One emerging trend in the clothing world is slow fashion. This idea intends to be the opposite of fast fashion, which churns out high volumes of clothing as quickly as possible. Slow fashion companies have better ethics through sustainable sourcing, paying workers a living wage, and creating garments you’ll wear for a long time.  

You can see slow fashion through brands like Silver and Gold. This company uses deadstock fabrics and sustainable fibers when manufacturing its clothing. Silver and Gold also use nontoxic dyes and recycled paper to reduce environmental impact.

p.s. check out our article: 9 reasons to give a hoot about fast fashion!

4. Travel Sustainably

Travel is a fun part of life, whether hopping around the most eco-friendly resorts of 2023 or taking a cross-country trip to see family. However, traveling does have negative consequences for the environment. The aviation industry significantly contributes to global warming through its carbon dioxide (CO2) production, nitrogen oxide emissions, and vapor trails.  

Try taking a train instead. They are much more sustainable than airplanes because their CO2 emissions are much lower. Plus, the tickets are cheaper and the arrival times are more reliable. However, a plane may be your only option if you’re going overseas. Find ways to use public transportation at your location and reduce your carbon footprint. 

You can practice sustainability at your destination, too!

For example, you can eat at local restaurants and avoid chains. Find businesses that support nearby growers to support the community while traveling. Avoid single-use plastics and bring supplies like eco-friendly travel products like reusable water bottles and thermoses. 

Another way to support sustainability while traveling is to visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. These organizations work hard to protect the environment and shield endangered animals from poachers and other threats.

5. Commute Sustainably

Sustainable travel doesn’t have to be for vacations only. You can practice it at home, especially in a city. Many large American municipalities have public transit systems, including subways, light rail, buses, and cable cars.

Public transportation is beneficial because you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by leaving your car at home. It can also save time because you’re less likely to get stuck in traffic.

Try riding a bicycle to work if you don’t live far from your destination. Cycling is an excellent way to eliminate carbon emissions from your commute and introduce low-impact exercise to your day. Another benefit to your physical health is less exposure to pollutants. Research shows that people who bike to work experience between two and three times less exposure to pollution than automobile drivers. 

Sustainable transportation means increasing the number of passengers per car to reduce road congestion, even if it means carpooling to work. Carpooling is cost-effective and reduces energy consumption. Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are another practical option because they reduce the need for parking infrastructure and save time with HOV lanes.

6. Shop Locally

There’s a reason you’ve seen campaigns to get more people to shop locally. It’s better for the environment, and you support the local economy. These stores often know you and your community better than the big-box retailers do. 

One sustainable way to shop is to go to a farmer’s market, one of the best places to get produce.

These shops have short supply chains because they source products from local farmers. For example, say you live in Michigan. Your grocery store sells apples from Washington, New York, and other states that aren’t close. A farmers market is more likely to have Michigan-grown apples, and you’ll also have fresher food that’s in season. 

7. Grow Your Own Food

What’s fresher than food from a farmer’s market? You could go directly to the growers or start a garden. Successfully growing food is rewarding and something you can take pride in. You can tell your friends you don’t need any store or market because you grow your own fruits and vegetables.
If you start a garden, keep a few things in mind: sun, soil, and selection.

Crops like tomatoes and peppers require at least six hours of sunlight daily. Many plants need well-drained soil for protection while growing. You’ll also want to select plants that suit your area’s climate. If you don’t have enough space outside, you can easily start a garden inside without any outdoor sunshine, just check out our 10 best indoor garden kits of 2023!

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8. Conserve Water

The world’s population has reached 8 billion, so resource usage has become a bigger problem. Water is a concern as droughts become more frequent and severe due to climate change. For example, over 41% of the U.S. population is experiencing a drought. Reducing water usage can go a long way toward sustainability and lowering monthly bills.

Use the dishwasher instead of hand washing your dishes. That may go against what your parents taught you, but dishwashers generally use less water than using the sink. Wait until your dishwasher is full so you get the best use out of it. Little things also matter, like turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving. 

Did you know you can also conserve water with your clothing choices? The fashion industry is notorious for its water consumption, accounting for 79 trillion liters yearly. You can lower usage by being vigilant of your clothing materials.

For example, organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester are three options that use significantly less water than conventional sources. 

9. Rethink Factory Farms

Meat is a primary protein source for many people, whether you eat chicken, beef, pork, or other cuts. However, this part of the agriculture industry (factory farming) has become environmentally harmful.

Try being more sustainable about your meat consumption. You could follow Paul McCartney’s lead and practice Meatless Mondays. Nowadays, there are countless ways to make plant-based recipes that taste just as good and have a solid amount of protein.

The rising price of eggs and poultry makes a terrific excuse to raise animals like chickens. Backyard chickens increase your self-sufficiency because you’ll have a constant supply of fresh eggs for free. Large poultry production plants contribute significantly to pollution. A small farm with chickens, turkeys and goats is an excellent start for sustainable living.  

10. Reduce Energy Usage

Do you find yourself at home more than you used to? The pandemic, remote work and other factors have led people to be in their living spaces more often. That means your energy consumption goes up.

Systems like your heating, venting and air conditioning (HVAC) unit are responsible for a significant portion of your utility bill.

This year, find ways to reduce your power consumption. The environment and your wallet will thank you.

One strategy is to invest in a smart thermostat. This device lets you control the temperature of your interior from anywhere. You can lower the setting while out of the house. When you’re ready to go home, you can turn the AC or heater on so it’s comfortable when you arrive. These devices also allow you to track your usage throughout the month and year.

Sustainable Living In 10 Easy Steps

And there you have it, 10 pretty straightforward ways to start your sustainability journey – at any time of year!

Find a new way each week or month to improve the planet through your lifestyle. You can start a garden, raise chickens, find more sustainable ways to commute to work and shop secondhand. No matter where you live, there’s something everybody can do to help the planet – just start with one step at a time!

Author: Mia Barnes is a freelance health and wellness writer with a passion for eco-friendly wellness and sustainable living. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine

If you liked this post, you’ll definitely want to check out these other posts from SKL:

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