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8 Ways Your Family Can Start Living More Sustainably

8 Ways Your Family Can Start Living More Sustainably
Getting fitter and eating healthier aren’t the only new year’s resolutions captivating people’s attention right now. So is living more sustainably.

Why not? Living more sustainably has plenty of upsides and very few disadvantages. 

First of all, it’s better for the environment from a holistic standpoint. Most people create around four pounds of garbage daily, which adds up to more than a ton of trash annually. That’s a lot of junk that ends up in landfills, which is problematic. By living more sustainably, individuals and families leave less of a carbon footprint.

Another advantage of living more sustainably is that it’s easier to stay organized. People who are frugal about what they buy and use often don’t have tons of clutter. Living a clutter-free lifestyle requires less time to keep everything clean and neat.

A final benefit of living more sustainably is that it can be quite cost-effective. Not purchasing everything new, as well as not focusing on consumerism, can help save money. That money can go into savings to help pay for economical, environmentally friendly travel.

Like the idea of living more sustainably? Think it might be something that would work for you or your household members? Read on to discover some of the quickest ways to switch up your regular habits so you can concentrate on sustainability in everything you do.

Prioritize Recycling

One big way to jump into the idea of living more sustainably is to make recycling an everyday practice. Like most people, you probably recycle in one form or another. For instance, countless homes and businesses collect recyclable containers so the containers can be reused. But that’s just the tip of the recycling iceberg.

Recycling isn’t limited to cans, glass bottles, and newsprint. When you purchase used furniture for your house from a consignment center, you’re participating in a form of recycling. The same is true if you’re buying pre-owned vehicles, clothing, jewelry, and appliances. By giving new life to products that might end up in junkyards or garbage dumps, you’re participating in sustainable living.

If you do decide that you need to buy something new, such as special tiles for your garage floor, be sure to look for items that are deemed eco-friendly. Maybe they’ve been manufactured using recycled materials, like old rubber tires. Or perhaps they’re made from a material that’s long-lasting and organic, like bamboo.

You can even prioritize recycling with your groceries. Look for favorite foods with as minimal packaging as possible. Oh, and bring your own cloth or canvas grocery bags to the store to cut down on your reliance on plastics.

Limit Waste

A major aspect of living more sustainably is making a pact with yourself to create less waste. The fewer things you throw into your trash cans, the fewer things that will clog up landfills. However, it can be tough not to be a waste generator, especially in a society where lots of items are regularly thrown away. This means you’ll probably have to make a special effort to ask yourself if an object can be upcycled, reused, or even re-sold before tossing it out.

A good example of ways to reduce waste on a major scale is if you’re renovating all or part of your home. Many times, renovating involves calling a provider of residential dumpster rentals. The dumpster sits in front of your house, and you throw anything out that you don’t need. Think old carpeting, drywall, and ancient windows. Yet it might be possible for some of those materials to be reclaimed by someone else.

Do a little research before embarking on your room or whole residence renovation project. What appears to be junk to you could be a treasure to someone else.
For instance, some people like to collect usable wooden planks and supports from old homes and barns. They use the reclaimed wood to create new masterpieces, such as farmhouse style tables and cool, modern dining room chairs.

How do you know if you’ve cut down on the waste as part of living more sustainably? A good way to measure your success is to have a baseline of how much you toss. For the next month, track how many bags of garbage you or your family throws away. Use your data to come up with an average of how many bags you throw away per week. Then, try to whittle down that number week after week. Over time, you should be able to see a marked improvement.

Think About Your Lawn Care Products

Living more sustainably isn’t just about what happens inside your home or how much waste you produce. It also boils down to how you treat the earth and your green spaces. Specifically, living more sustainably can have a lot to do with the types of products you use for your gardening and lawln care purposes.

Many types of products on the market say they’re safe. Do your homework before investing in them, though. Yes, a certain type of weed killer may work like a charm. Nevertheless, it might also be very bad from an environmental standpoint. The last thing you want to do is use a product that could leach into the soil and end up polluting your neighborhood’s water table, or your family’s personal well if you’re reliant on well water.

Will you spend more to buy sustainable lawn care products or special soils and seeds for your garden plants, herbs, vegetables, and blooms? Maybe. Here’s the bottom line, though: You will be saving a lot in the long run by not depleting the health of your lawn or outdoor property. Additionally, you won’t have to worry that the items you’re using could be harmful to your pets or your kids.

Start a Garden

Speaking of green changes, you will almost certainly want to grow your own garden as an avenue to up your sustainability factor. Producing a garden isn’t just visually pleasing. It’s a way for you to produce food for your family or even your friends and neighbors. It can even lower your stress levels, which may make you less tempted to go out and buy unnecessary merchandise as part of a stress-related shopping spree.

What if you don’t have a lot of space for a garden? You’re in luck because gardens can be grown in a variety of spaces. Some people only have a kitchen garden where they grow basic plants and herbs, like lettuce, oregano, rosemary, and basil. Other people make use of their patios, no matter how small, to successfully produce veggies.

Of course, if you’re committed to having a full-scale garden at some point and you’re currently living in an apartment or other space where it’s not feasible, you may want to consider moving. Look for new homes for sale with large properties. You don’t need to have a big house to have a big yard or a big garden, either. Some places on the market boast relatively modest homes with modest price tags on land with decent acreage. Just make certain that the land can be fertile enough for you to have the garden of your dreams.

As a final suggestion on gardening, think about adding recycled decor to your garden areas. Homeowners have gotten tremendously creative and designed gardens featuring everything from old pianos to clawfoot bathtubs! Let your imagination run wild and have fun.

Consider Your Home's Energy Use

This couldn’t be an article on living more sustainably if it didn’t talk about heating and air conditioning. It’s a huge topic right now, because many consumers are worried that the ways they’re making their homes comfortable could be hurting the environment and leading to substantial unwanted climate changes.

You might not be ready or able to completely pull the plug on your HVAC system. Still, you can take a few measures to lessen the carbon load of your current type of heating or cooling.
For instance, try keeping your house at a cooler temperature than usual in the winter or a hotter temperature in the summer. Alternatively, pay to have your home zoned. That way, you can adjust the temperature of individual rooms so you aren’t wasting energy by heating or cooling a space like an unused basement or guest bedroom.

Now, if you’re ready to take a more substantial step toward living more sustainably, you may want to investigate solar panels. Adding solar panels to your house could help you not necessarily get off the grid completely, but take a serious bite out of your reliance on public utility providers. Not sure your house is set up for maximum solar panel efficiency? Talk to an exterior remodeling services provider. With a few changes, your roof could end up accepting more solar panels than you might have imagined possible.

Insulate Your Home

Since you’re already focused on your heating and cooling, be sure to check your insulation levels. Over time, insulation between the walls and under the roof can start to lose its effectiveness. Even modern blown-in insulation can eventually wear out.

Without proper insulation, you’ll still be wasting a lot of energy, even if you scale back on turning on your furnace or air conditioner. Therefore, check your insulation or have a technician or roofing contractor come to your home to give you an estimate of how well your insulation is doing its job.

Another cause of unnecessary energy loss is through your windows. Getting energy-efficient models as replacements for your old windows really pays off. You may not realize it until you get the windows installed, but you should see a huge drop in your utility bills afterwards.

Choose Sustainable Products and Pay for Sustainable Services

It probably seems like a no-brainer that part of living more sustainably would include always reaching for sustainable products. Obviously, you're not going to buy all plastic furniture for your child's room when you could purchase something that wasn't quite as hard on the environment. However, that doesn’t mean you should only think from a sustainable perspective when you’re buying something online or in a retail store. You should also think about whether the services you choose have a sustainable component.

Even something as unexpected (and perhaps seemingly undifferentiated between providers) as dental care can have sustainable leanings. An example of this would be a dentist who relied on sustainable practices to reduce waste. Or an orthodontist who found a way to recycle the plastic aligners used for clear braces technology. Maybe an oral surgeon who liked to use specific types of tools that were made in a manufacturing plant that followed sustainable protocols.

Remember that before ever giving any provider money from your checking account, you have the right to evaluate whether their commitment to sustainability aligns with yours. As a consumer, you can always pick and choose from different partners, allowing you to practice sustainability by proxy as well as firsthand. Be sure to give your chosen providers, particularly service providers, a shout-out on social media. They'll appreciate unexpected referrals and reviews.

Learn the Art of Upcycling

Have you heard about upcycling? It’s often used to describe the process of re-sewing or otherwise changing a garment to give it fresh life. Yet upcycling isn’t just limited to apparels like shirts, shoes, pants, and dresses. It’s also relevant when considering other items that might be in your home.

Many furniture pieces can be upcycled by taking them apart and turning them into something unusual or wonderful. A dusty bookshelf from your attic could become a dollhouse with some paint and a few creative touches. A broken metal chair could be taken apart and its various elements used to make artwork for a garden. As long as you have the time and tools to safely upcycle, you can upcycle more things than you might realize.

Living more sustainably doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to feel like you’re making too many sacrifices. In fact, if you do it correctly and consistently, you’ll find that it frees you up to concentrate more on what really matters: your mental health, your personal relationships, and your positive impact on the world.

Louann Moss

I am an independent guest blogger who writes for many other blogs. You will love my articles.

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