13 Sustainability Hacks to Help Everyone Go Greener
We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn affiliate commission.
Maybe you think you can’t go green because covering your roof with solar panels and buying a Tesla is beyond your budget. However, there are some sustainability hacks everyone can do to become more earth-friendly.
Most of these tricks require no money at all. Some keep more green in your wallet, making you feel good about doing your part to help the planet. Are you ready to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly? Here are 13 sustainability hacks to help everyone go greener.
The final “B” here can stand for water — as in a reusable bottle — or bag. If you got in the habit of taking your mug to Starbucks before the pandemic, it’s okay to bring it again. They don’t have to be officially branded. Any cup that fits the drink will do. Taking bags to the grocery store is also okay once more and far wiser than paper or plastic, which break, shattering today’s more expensive eggs.
Gardening is great for easing stress. It gets you moving in the sunshine and provides a sense of security in knowing you can provide your food needs if necessary.
Many shy away from this hobby because of the expense, but it can be free. For example, learning to save the seeds from the vegetables you bring home to eat and sprout them into baby plants means there’s no need to buy new.
Did you know that organic matter in landfills contributes to methane emissions, a greenhouse gas heavier than carbon dioxide? That’s because it requires oxygen to break down into the soil. Landfill conditions are anaerobic, resulting in toxic gas. Fortunately, you can now find countertop compost machines even apartment dwellers can use. Donate the results to a local community garden or use it for your houseplants.
4. Go Paperless
If you’re still receiving bills in the mail, why? All it takes is a phone call or a quick swing by your provider’s website to go paperless, saving countless trees with this simple sustainability hack.
Getting rid of junk mail is more challenging, but several organizations exist to help. By contacting the ones that deliver to you, you keep your mailbox cleaner and slow deforestation.
5. (Gradually) Switch to Solar
A full roof of solar panels can set you back over $10,000, which is why many delay this task until they need a roof replacement — if they convert at all. However, you can get started more cheaply. Portable panels keep small appliances like your computers and phone charged without drawing from the grid. All you need are the panels and a storage device, which often doubles as a backup charger for your devices.
6. Hit the Farmer’s Market
Did you ever think about all the emissions created getting goods from all over the world to your grocery store? It involves multiple planes, trains and automobiles contributing to climate change.
However, your local farmer’s markets feature local vendors. Plus, you can find organic produce for far cheaper prices than you’d pay at a traditional retail establishment.
7. Rethink Your Commute
Does climbing into your car on a triple-digit day make you wish you never had to leave the AC? While you might still break a light sweat, an electric bike creates a cooling, full-body breeze as soon as you start pedaling. The battery keeps you from exerting yourself while producing zero emissions, making this sustainability hack clean, green and healthy.
Even if you can’t walk to the office, walking or biking for short trips ups your daily step count and saves emissions. Public transportation is another option if it’s feasible where you live, and talking to your boss about a telecommuting or hybrid schedule is possible for some. Despite the RTO push, many companies have realized such a move will backfire, meaning more flexible arrangements are here to stay.
8. Pop Some Tags
Buying secondhand can save you money and also does the planet a kindness. It takes raw materials and energy to make new products.
Plus, you never know when you might get lucky. One lucky thrifter recently found a Versace dress valued at over $10,000 for $12 at her local shop.
9. Adjust That Dial
You won’t notice much difference in how you feel by turning your thermostat up a single degree in the summer and down in the winter. However, you’ll enjoy the lower bill amount. Doing so during your 8-hour workday alone can saves energy and money. Take advantage of this sustainability hack by investing in a programmable thermostat — then be conservative when adjusting the settings dial.
10. Just Say No
Perhaps the best sustainability hack is to tame your consumption. You don’t create waste from what you never buy.
Try to go easy on plastic in particular, which often isn’t recyclable despite the triangle stamp. Many jurisdictions only take numbers one and two, meaning the rest ends up in landfills. Observe your goods’ packaging and opt for compostable or recyclable options when available.
11. Make a Clean Sweep
How do you clean your home? You might associate the scent of chemical-based cleaners with tidying up. However, some such substances contain volatile organic compounds. VOCs contaminate the air and can cause health symptoms like headaches, nausea, upper respiratory issues and fatigue.
Read the labels of your household cleaners or learn how to make safer, non-toxic versions at home. Some extra-strength distilled vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide tackle many household messes without VOCs.
12. Go (More) Plant-Based
Meat production contributes to nearly 15% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. While you don’t have to convert to veganism, cutting back on your overall consumption is a sustainability hack anyone can do.
Save steaks and bacon for rare occasions. When you do eat meat, stick to greener alternatives like poultry and fish. Hunting game meat is among the greenest ways to feed yourself.
Pro-tip: Poor and hungry? Here’s a sustainability hack you and your family need. Go to your state’s game commission website and sign up for a permit to harvest roadkill. Does it sound gross? Yes — but not when considering that a single deer can feed a family of four for over two months. You have to get it when it’s fresh, but there’s no point letting that meat go to waste when you can use it.
13. Vote With Your Wallet
In a market economy, you vote with your pocketbook. Choosing to spend money with companies that share your passion for environmental stewardship is a sustainability hack that’s simpler than ever in today’s information age.
However, you have to watch out for greenwashing. Words like “green” and “sustainable” are easy to use but hard to define. Instead, look for one of the top ecolabel seals on the packaging to determine whether the product lives up to the hype.
Sustainability Hacks Anyone Can Use
You don’t need a large bankroll to go green. Anyone can use the above sustainability hacks to improve their carbon footprint.
Start slow, adding one of these sustainability hacks to your life each month. This time next year, you’ll pat yourself on the back for your eco-friendliness.
Like what you read? Join other Environment.co readers!
Get the latest updates on our planet by subscribing to the Environment.co newsletter!
About the author
Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.