Tips to Live Sustainably: A Senior’s Guide to Going Green

reusable bag

The effects of human behavior have had negative impacts on the Earth in more ways than one. Luckily, there has been an awakening of knowledge on how to slow these impacts in our daily lives. This understanding is known as sustainability. It is the idea of living while making the least negative impacts on our planet. Starting to live sustainably can be as simple as making small changes to your daily routine.  

Small Changes Lead to Big Results

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Did you know that the average person creates 4.3 pounds of trash per day? Additionally, the average person uses somewhere between 80-100 gallons of water in a day. Don’t worry though; there are small changes you can make to drastically reduce these numbers. It all starts with a simple motto: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Here are 13 tips to help get you started on living sustainably:

  1. Ditch plastic water bottles. Single use plastic water bottles are both harmful for the environment and our bodies. Nix these and start using a reusable bottle for your hydration needs.
  2. Use a drying rack. Dryers use up tons of energy and water. Avoid the waste by opting to dry your clothes on a clothing rack instead. You’ll avoid shrinking, and prolong the life of your clothes, too!
  3. Unplug cords from the wall to avoid additional energy waste. Even when your lamp isn’t turned on, it is still using energy just by being plugged in. Be sure to unplug everything in your home when it isn’t in use.
  4. Say no to plastic bags. Plastic bags are an environmental no-no. Use reusable bags instead. To avoid forgetting them the next time you go shopping, place them in the trunk of your car ahead of time. This way, they’re always with you and ready to use.
  5. Grow your own food. The process of making and then transporting food to the grocery store requires an alarming amount of water, energy, and packaging. Start your own garden to grow your favorite foods. You can start small with a couple fruit and vegetable planter boxes. Even just one plant helps cut back on your food production waste. 
  6. Plant drought tolerant plants. Plants often need a great deal of water to stay alive and beautiful. However, drought tolerant plants require very little water to maintain. Look for ‘drought tolerant’ on the label before purchasing any new plants. Succulents and cacti are drought tolerant plants that have reached national popularity.
  7. Look for fair trade products. Fair trade products do more than just offer fair pay to workers. Fair trade companies work to reduce their waste and water use, making the best products for sustainably minded consumers. Look for the fair trade stamp on coffee, produce and body care products when shopping.
  8. Get rid of paper towels in your home. Join the trend of ditching one-use products—rid your home of paper towels. Instead of using these wasteful towels, opt for reusable ones. Old hand towels work great for cleaning, while new hand towels are perfect for drying hands and dishes.
  9. Clean your home with green products. You can turn your home cleaning regimen green by making your own cleaning products or purchasing non-toxic cleaning products. Simply Googling ‘DIY Home Cleaners’ will lead you to many great homemade cleaning products. Or look for non-toxic on the label at the store. Better yet, use vinegar to tackle your household cleaning.   
  10. Switch to LED lightbulbs. LED lightbulbs are far more energy efficient than any other light bulb on the market. And they last longer which makes them cheaper too. Replace your old lights with LEDs to make your lights more efficient. You can take your efforts a step further by waiting until your old lights burn out, this helps reduce your consumption.
  11. Wash your clothes with cold water. Heating your washing machine’s water takes a lot of additional energy. Save energy by using cold water instead. Just like when you forgo the dryer, this will also help preserve the quality of your clothes.  
  12. Buy food in bulk. Standard food wrappers are destined for the landfill. Individually packaged snacks make up for lots of waste. By reducing the number of individual food packages you bring into your home, you are also reducing the number that end up in landfills.
  13. Install low flow showerheads and faucets. By switching to low flow, you are immediately reducing your water consumption without much thought. When searching for a new showerhead or faucet look for ‘low flow.’ Your water pressure won’t even be affected!

You Are Now on Your Way to Living Sustainably

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The planet thanks you for your dedication to keeping it a healthy place for us to live.

There are many more things you can do to continue the process of living more sustainably. Take a look at your daily routine. How can you reduce, reuse, or recycle in other aspects of your life? This type of thinking is critical in the efforts of living as sustainably as possible.

Wonder what your carbon foot print is? Take this quiz to find out how many planets would be needed if everyone lived a similar lifestyle as you. The results may be shocking.

http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/calculators/

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