Our planet is experiencing drastic changes from human activities. As the effects of climate change are becoming more and more relevant, people have realised the drastic effects and want to live an eco-friendly (sustainable) lifestyle. After decades of climate change and pollution, the global response to environmental degradation remains insufficient.
As individuals, it all starts from lifestyle design and the way we consume things. Small, conscious actions may seem pointless by an individual but become more prevalent when done on a large scale.
But the sad truth is that not a lot of people know where to begin or end up feeling overwhelmed. The urge to be sustainable needs to come from the heart and not just from pressure. There is a psychological term: eco-anxiety.
How to get away from eco-anxiety?
Did you ever dodge reading about the planet's future? Doing so would have left you frustrated, exhausted and depressed. This creates resistance and you may end up doing very little to change it.
You don't have to feel helpless. I felt the same way and I believe many others want a sustainable change but feel the same way. The shift in lifestyle can be tough and overwhelming but rewarding and the sense of satisfaction is immense.
This beginner-friendly sustainable living guide is for people like you, who are ready to create a smooth and easy transition to sustainable living. In this blog, you will learn practical steps to beginner sustainable living and eco-friendly tips for beginners to get started!
#1 Create the right mindset
What are your reasons for going to zero waste? Writing down your reasons gives you the strength to resolve and reinforce the motivation that you need. All the reasons are valid for going zero waste like getting budget-friendly or spending less, caring for the environment or reducing the use of toxic plastics.
Understanding the 'why' will help you stay grounded and redevelop your interest when things get difficult to continue. This aspect is very important if you are looking forward to creating a long-term and consistent change in your life.
#2 Remove the ambiguity towards a low-impact lifestyle
There is a common misconception that low impact living requires a high financial investment. Some think it requires you to be a devoted follower of "certain rules", make your products and whatnot. This is simply not true.
The best part about a zero impact, sustainable lifestyle is that there are no rigid rules. Rather than focusing on certain rules, take a look at your lifestyle and ask yourself how positively (or negatively) it affects the environment. There are many changes you can make to your lifestyle that can help the environment, whether it is composting or reducing the use of single-plastic.
It is easy to get eco-anxiety and do nothing. Accept that you can't do everything at once but with consistent small changes, you are making a difference.
How can you transition to a sustainable lifestyle?
Aah! The most important question. Before taking any action towards a long-term change, you might have to keep a few things in mind to keep yourself motivated and accountable.
- Calculate your current carbon footprint
- Eliminate recurring single-use plastic
- Consider current, unintentional sustainable practices
- Use what is available
- Start buying secondhand products
- Be mindful about transportation
- Start composting
- Motivate others - Be vocal about the urgency of action
#1 Assess your carbon footprint
Knowing your current state of sustainability is an important first step towards a zero-waste lifestyle. Calculate and examine your buying habits, energy consumption and other impacts. Reflecting on your daily actions can help you create a favourable lifestyle for sustainable living.
There are many tools that you can use. You can take a look at the WWF carbon footprint calculation tool. They have also come up with calculators for 10 different countries to get accurate results based on location.
#2 Start with eliminating single-use plastics
Whether it is in your kitchen or office, waste is everywhere. Before you burden yourself with the pressure of switching to sustainable alternatives, focus on eliminating the waste of single-use items.
Observe the trash generated every week and do a trash audit. This will help you to see where the waste comes from and how you can eliminate the source.
How to perform trash audit
Step 1: Get to know your trash - Collect all your trash and identify each piece. For every repeated waste, add a tally mark.
Step2: Organise the list - order the items starting from the waste with the highest tally count to the lowest.
Step 3: Make some changes - Prioritise the waste with the highest tally count and make a conscious change to reduce it. You can either eliminate the waste or swap it with a sustainable alternative. The choice is yours!
#3 Use existing items efficiently
You don't have to get new products to live a sustainable lifestyle. You can do so once you have used all of the existing products in your house or office. This is the first rule of living a zero-waste lifestyle: finish what you already have before purchasing a replacement.
Look around your house and see what zero waste hacks and items you already have. You will be surprised at how many items you already have like empty glass jars, stainless steel bottles and so on. You can convert and repurpose old shirts into cloth bags or rags. Use stainless steel cutlery in your kitchen can be used as your travel cutlery.
You don't have to buy new items - see what items can you reuse and repurpose!
#4 Start thrifting!
Thrifting is an easy way to redirect waste from going to landfill. You are not only repurposing a potential waste item but also reducing the demand for the new item. Moreover, buying second hand is also budget-friendly!
You can easily be eco friendly and economically sustainable with secondhand shopping. There are many vintage stores that you can come across in your neighbourhood. You may be lucky to find some hidden treasures for your home.
#5 Be a part of a community
Joining a community or a group of eco-conscious individuals will lower your eco-anxiety and accelerate your transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. Involve your friends, family and colleagues to reduce trash. It is a great way to build relations and create a local impact.
Organised actions create a visible impact. It will further motivate you to take conscious actions if you support each other. Here are some ideas to get involved as a community:
- Support local businesses and food stores.
- Get involved with your local council and create action plans for zero waste.
- Host events to swap items or buy/sell secondhand items.
- Send emails to the local packaging companies for collective sustainable policies.
Along with this, it is also important to find the right group of people to work with. Having a support group matters while taking big-scale action. Get your friends, families and also find people with mutual interests. See what matters to them and be open to participating in collective actions.
#6 Rethink transportation
Walking, using public transport and cycling are some of the easiest swaps for sustainable travelling because it helps eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Not only is it sustainable, but it can also help your health. Depending on the distance and availability of resources, you can assess and choose your mode of transportation. Here is a quick list:
- If you want to travel in the neighborhood or to your local bus station, opt for walking.
- If you want to go to nearby areas or explore a town, you can choose cycling.
- For longer distances, you can carpool or choose public transport. See if you can avoid using a car or other vehicle as much as possible.
#7 Start composting
Composting is an incredible way to reduce waste disposal in landfills. You can either buy a composter for your home or collect the waste and dispose of it in a local composting unit.
With composting, you not only reduce the wet waste but redirect the waste into useful fertilizer and compost for either gardening or farming. Compost is rich in nutrients that you can add to the soil of your plants, donate it to local farmers or gift it to someone who has a garden at home. Composting is also an easy way to segregate waste effectively.
You can choose to compost either in the kitchen or backyard.
- Learn more about composting and find the best composters online: A Step-by-step Guide to Making Compost for Beginners
- Buy the best composting bins: Best Composting Bins For Upcycling Your Food Waste
#8 Save this for the future
The above actions are a great way to start with. Once you start creating the above changes, you can double down on the following sustainable actions.
Beware of 'Greenwashing'
Companies today are jumping on eco-friendly trends and the outcomes are not always good. Words like 'eco friendly', 'green' and 'all natural' are slapped all over products. Even if these products are sustainable, the packaging and mode of production aren't necessarily so. This process is called greenwashing - a marketing trick that doesn’t positively affect the product’s environmental impact.
Because there are fewer/relaxed regulations over eco-labelling, it is easy for companies to get away with these marketing gimmicks. However, many countries have implemented standards and certifications for organic products that you as a consumer can look up while purchasing.
Start shopping from authentic sources that have the necessary certifications. You can also go local to find stores that you can trust. There are many online stores that use eco-friendly modes of delivery and are mindful of the products that they produce and sell.
Websites like EcoRoots have made great progress. You can check the “about” pages and read the policies of their store for additional information.
Moreover, conscious consumerism is about buying what is necessary and cutting down on guilt or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses shopping that is triggered by marketing campaigns and viral trends. Buy what you need and choose eco-friendly alternatives if at all possible. Buy items only when you can't repurpose existing resources - this will help get more sustainable. The purchases we make need to be necessary, multiuse and long-lasting.
Read our blog - How to Be More Eco Friendly: The Ultimate Guide. This has a more detailed breakdown of sustainable lifestyle tips in the kitchen, fashion, office and more!
These steps are listed for anyone who is ready to live a more sustainable lifestyle or feels anxious with the information available online. These steps will help you create a smooth transition to sustainability and help you to recognize the gimmicks or red flags that you can avoid.
Be mindful and aware of your actions and their influence on the environment in your daily decisions and actions. Whether it is the amount of plastic, paper or water you use or reducing your overall consumption, you have the potential to make a big impact to protect and heal the planet. There are so many ways to get started with eco-friendly living! Just remember, you don’t need to do everything all at once: start with one sustainable habit at a time.
The Sustainable Champions Blog is a great resource for anyone looking to learn about practical sustainable advice, guides, how-tos and where you can find the best sustainable alternatives to any products online.