Better Goods News

87 Ways To Be More Eco-Friendly Starting Today (2022 Edition)

Jeanne Perrine

Mar 16, 2022

how to be eco-friendly

Facts don't lie: climate change is real and human activities are the leading cause. As we continue to emit greenhouse gases and contribute to the increase in mean global temperatures, our planet, and its environment is severely being damaged.

Climate change concerns us all, and we should think about how we can bring positive changes to how we live. We are the problem; therefore, the solution should come from all of us. Fortunately, there are ways in which we can help conserve resources such as water and energy and prevent air, water, and land pollution.

Below are 87 tips for being more environmental-friendly. Broken down into the categories below, you're sure to find eco-friendly tips you can start implementing today.

Be a Conscious Shopper

1. Think green before you shop

Reduce associated greenhouse gas by thinking green when you shop (US EPA, 2021).

2. Reduce your food waste

Shop smart, buy what you need, compost food scraps, donate unused food to food banks or shelters (US EPA, 2021).

3. Reuse or repurpose items

Reuse or repurpose old clothing, cloth grocery bags, and containers to prevent waste (US EPA, 2021).

4. Buy used items

Buying used items reduces waste and the emissions created by producing new materials or disposing of them in landfills. Also, donate unused clothing, electronics, and building materials to make sure others can reuse them too! (US EPA, 2021).

5. Buy products made with recycled content

Check labels to see if a product or its packaging is made from recycled materials (US EPA, 2021).

6. Know before you throw

Know what items your local recycling program collects and encourage your household to recycle right and recycle more (US EPA, 2021).

7. Maintain and repair products

Maintain and repair items such as clothing, tires, and appliances, so they won't have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently (US EPA, 2021).

8. Borrow, rent, or share items

Instead of always buying infrequently used items such as party decorations, tools, or furniture, consider borrowing or renting them (US EPA, 2021).

9. eCycle

Before replacing a computer that no longer fits your needs, consider enhancing the computer's capacity by upgrading the hard drive or memory. This can save you money, too (US EPA, 2022).

10. Avoid disposable products

Paper and plastic plates and utensils, disposable diapers, paper towels and napkins, cheap plasticware, and other non-durable consumer goods (goods designed to last for a short period) make up about 20% of America's waste stream, which amounted to 50 million tons in 2015, according to the EPA.

A significant concern is the greenhouse gas emissions that result from these items' manufacture and disposal. Store away a quantity of durable, bargain-priced dishes, flatware, and glassware for parties and picnics. Use cloth napkins, cloth diapers, cloth rags, rechargeable batteries, durable razors, and refillable coffee thermoses for take-out coffee (Peters, 2019).

11. Buy products with less packaging

The waste landfills are filled with consumer product packaging. According to the EPA, containers, and packaging made up the most significant portion of municipal waste in the U.S., at almost 78 million tons, or nearly 30%. Slightly more than a third gets recycled, but massive amounts end up in landfills. Packaging also adds significantly to both consumer products' cost and carbon footprint.

When it's not possible to avoid packaging, reuse containers, polystyrene (styrofoam) fillers, and bubble wrap, or see if your local shipping service can use them. After reducing and reusing, the third-best alternative is recycling (Peters, 2019).

12. Kick the bottled water habit

According to researchers from the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, the energy required to produce, transport, and chill bottled water requires up to 2,000 times the energy required to produce tap water. In addition, plastic bottles can take 450 years or more to decompose. While drinking plenty of water for good health, use a reusable water bottle or simply a glass as you pour water from your tap (Peters, 2019).

Being Eco-Friendly At Home

13. Raise the cutting height of your lawnmower during hot summer months

This keeps grass roots shaded and cooler, reducing weed growth, browning, and the need for watering (US EPA, 2022).

14. "Grasscycle"

Leave grass clippings on your lawn instead of bagging them when you mow. The clippings will return nutrients to the soil instead of taking up space in landfills (US EPA, 2022).

15. Donate plants

Donate healthy plants that you want to replace to community gardens, parks, and schools.

16. Save your wood ashes

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, save your ashes instead of throwing them away. Once cooled, wood ashes can be mixed into your compost heap and provide nutrients to your garden (US EPA, 2022).

17. Invest in a clothesline

Your clothes dryer is one of the most significant energy users in the home and, for the average family, emits over a ton of carbon a year. Air-drying can reduce the average household's carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year, according to Green America, a non-profit organization. Many retail outlets sell racks and well-designed accessories for indoor drying. When you use your dryer, use the setting that provides an automatic shut-off when your clothes are no longer damp. Use just enough energy to get the laundry dry. Be aware that you will lose energy if you add wet clothes to a load that is already partially dry (Peters, 2019).

18. Switch out your light bulb

LED lights use 75% less energy to deliver the same amount of light as incandescents, and LED bulbs last 25 times longer. LED holiday string lights are not only more energy-efficient and much cheaper over time, but they also emit less heat (and therefore safer) and are more durable. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by 2027, the widespread use of LED lighting could save $30 billion in energy costs and reduce electricity use by the equivalent of 44 1,000-megawatt power plants (Peters, 2019).

19. Shut off lights

The cost of keeping a single light bulb on doesn't amount to much on an hourly basis: using a 60-watt bulb for one hour requires 0.06-kilowatt-hours of electricity, costing about 1.2 cents if your electric rate is 20 cents per kilowatt-hour. But the costs add up. Based on consumption data from 2015, lighting accounts for 12% of the average household electric bill. By shutting off unnecessary lights, such as in empty rooms, you will save money and lower your carbon footprint (Peters, 2019).

20. Unplug electronics

Many electronic devices, including televisions, microwaves, scanners, and printers, use standby power to save warm-up time even when not in use. According to the Office of Sustainability at Harvard University, in the United States, the total electricity consumed by idle electronics — sometimes referred to as vampire or phantom electricity equals the annual output of 12 power plants. Use power strips for these devices to simplify plugging and unplugging (Peters, 2019).

21. Adjust your heating and cooling appliances

Combined, heating, and cooling accounts for nearly half of household energy consumption. You can reduce energy consumption and save money by using a programmable thermostat. According to the Department of Energy, for every degree you reduce the temperature in the winter or raise it in the summer, you are saving up to 1% in energy costs for each 8-hour period. Lowering your heating setting or raising your air conditioning settings by 10 degrees for eight hours a day could save you 10% on your energy bill and reduce your carbon footprint.

There is added efficiency in doing this. In winter, lower interior temperatures will slow the flow of heat to the outdoors, and higher interior temperatures in summer will slow the flow of heat into the house (Peters, 2019).

22. Choose local and organic

Growing organic food is labor-intensive but requires 30%-50% less energy to produce.

Eating locally-grown food also saves energy because of the lower transportation costs. According to the Center of Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, eating all locally-grown food for one year could save the GHG equivalent of driving 1,000 miles.

23. Insulate your home

Homes that aren't well insulated are much harder to keep warm when it's cold and cool when the weather is hot (Laming, 2017).

24. Use eco-friendly cleaning products

Many cleaning products have a lot of harmful chemicals in them that aren't environmentally friendly to create or dispose of. Repeated exposure to these cleaning products can affect your health and the environment. Green cleaning products use more natural and organic methods of cleaning, which are far less harmful (Laming, 2017).

25. Reduce your washing

Erin Rhoads points out: "the majority of the environmental burden caused by fashion happens after we take the clothing home: 82% of the energy a garment will use is in the washing and drying we do each week". One solution would be to spot-clean and neutralize smells with a spritz of diluted vodka or lemon juice (Berrill et al., 2020).

26. Clean with Castile

By making cleaning products (from polish to detergent), you can reduce the amount of plastic entering your home and the level of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as formaldehyde, that is released. Originating from Spain, castile soap was traditionally made with pure olive oil but is now more commonly produced by mixing vegetable oils such as hemp, avocado, jojoba, and coconut. For a simple, multipurpose kitchen spray, add 50ml of castile soap to 800ml tap water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oils (tea tree is antibacterial). Spray and wipe with a clean cloth (Berrill et al., 2020).

27. Change your showerhead

Investing in an aerated showerhead will help reduce energy and water consumption. They inject air into the water stream, limiting water usage. A water-efficient showerhead could save a four-person household £70 a year on gas for water heating and a further £115 on water bills if they have a meter (Berrill et al., 2020).

28. Opt for green energy suppliers

Just because you're on a green tariff, it doesn't mean you should stop worrying about how much energy you use (Berrill et al., 2020).

29. Draught-proof your home

One of the cheapest, most effective ways to save energy and money at home is to draught-proof windows, doors, letterboxes, fireplaces, and loft hatches (Berrill et al., 2020).

30. Try renewable energy, go rooftop solar

Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic (P.V.) accelerates access to affordable and clean electricity. Roof modules are spreading worldwide because of their affordability. Solar P.V. has benefited from a virtuous cycle of falling costs that is cheap, and you can easily install it to go environmentally friendly (Conserve Energy Future, 2022).

31. Use eco-friendly toothbrushes

Made from natural bamboo wood, the handles of eco-friendly toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable. You can safely discard them by returning them to the ground in compost or landfill. Even with non-compostable bristles, these eco-friendly toothbrushes still eliminate 90% of the plastic used in traditional toothbrush production (Treo Bamboo, nd).

32. Fix leaking taps

It is a simple way to save water at home (Kate, 2020).

33. Go paperless

Pay your bills online (Kate, 2020).

34. Stop unsolicited mail

Stopping all those leaflets and menus coming through your door saves paper (Kate, 2020).

35. Do a cold wash instead of a hot one

 It still washes your clothes and can use up to 57% less electricity per wash (Kate, 2020).

36. Collect rainwater

Rainwater can be used to water your plants, for example (Kate, 2020).

37. Choose a laptop if you are buying a new computer.

Laptops use 10% or less of the electricity consumed by a typical desktop (Faust Island, 2021).

38. Choose an inkjet printer if you're buying a new printer

 Inkjet printers have low energy consumption (Fasut Island, 2021).

39. Run the dishwasher only when it's full

Those who have a dishwasher tend to be more eco-friendly than handwashing. However, you should wait until it's full to run it, and use the "economy" option if you have it. Also, consider turning off heat drying and letting the dishes air dry (Hutcherson et al., 2021).

40. Clean your fridge coils

Even a tiny amount of dust on the coils, beneath or behind your refrigerator, can significantly reduce the appliance's energy efficiency. So every year or so, unplug the fridge and use a vacuum or duster around the coils to help keep it running as it should (Hutcherson et al., 2021).

A More Eco-Friendly Closet

41. Set a bar

If a year without buying anything new seems too big a challenge, try a month, or buy only secondhand. You can also ask yourself: "Will I wear it at least 30 times?" before buying (Berrill et al., 2020).

42. Find a secondhand that works for you

Opting for vintage or secondhand is one of the easiest ways to shop sustainably. While some fans will extol the virtues of rifling through giant warehouses, this approach is not for everyone. Thankfully, there are other ways. Smaller stores with a curated selection may not offer quite the same bargains as a car boot sale, but they can be less intimidating (Berrill et al., 2020).

43. Shop in person - and alone

Shopping in person, especially if you walk there, is usually greener than online. Clothes shipped across the world have a significant carbon footprint and often come packaged in plastic. You are also less likely to return things you have tried on. It can help to ditch your friends. "When you ask a friend if you should buy something, you already know the answer will be yes." "It's an unwritten rule of sisterhood." You can think of it as the new version of not going supermarket shopping when you're hungry (Berrill et al., 2020).

44. Choose materials wisely

Some fabrics age better than others. It is recommended to look for leather when shopping secondhand. Leather jackets, shoes, and belts last for years and often look and feel better once they have been worn in. Jeans are also best bought secondhand (Berrill et al., 2020).

45. Unsubscribe and unfollow

If you want to quit fast fashion, the best way is to unsubscribe from all emails. A brand that constantly introduces new products might be sustainable in name only. Sending emails and pressuring consumers to buy, buy, buy is not sustainable; that's fast fashion. The same applies to influencers and brands on social platforms such as Instagram. Deleting fast-fashion shopping apps can help, too (Berrill et al., 2020).

46. Get swishing

Swishing, which means clothes swapping, is one of the greenest ways to refresh your wardrobe. Swishing offers credits based on the value of the items you bring, which can be exchanged for items brought by others. Avoid trends and hunt for quality pieces you'll wear for years.

47. Choose eco-friendly materials

Look out for more natural fibers; go for cotton over polyester. They feel a lot nicer when you wear them and do not contain things like microfibres that go into our water and marine life when we wash our clothes (Rahman-Jones, 2021).

Ditch The Plastic

48. Carry a reusable bottle

In the U.K., over 35 million plastic bottles are used every day. Carrying a reusable bottle is a great way to reduce your plastic use and save money (Hunter, 2022).

49. Say no to plastic straws

Plastic straws pollute our oceans. Next time you order a drink, think about whether you need a straw, and if you don't, just say no! You can also ask your local pub to stop adding straws to drinks as standard and offer paper straws to those who want one (Hunter, 2022).

50. Take a reusable coffee cup

2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the U.K. Less than 1 in 400 are recycled. Carry a reusable cup with you (Hunter, 2022).

51. Use refill stations for detergents

There are some products that it is difficult to avoid a plastic container, for example, laundry liquid. However, there are an increasing amount of places where you can refill your old bottles (Hunter, 2022).

52. Carry a shopping bag

Carry an extra bag with you. If you find it hard to remember, try a foldaway that you can carry in your regular day bag (Hunter, 2022).

53. Ditch the cling wrap

Unlike cling film—which cannot be recycled—aluminum foil is recyclable. So if you are using foil, make sure you put it in the recycling bin after use (WWF, nd).

54. Buy in bulk

Single-serving yogurts, travel-size toiletries, tiny packages of nuts; consider the product-to-packaging ratio of items you tend to buy often and select the bigger container instead of buying several smaller ones over time.

55. Shop at farmers markets

Shopping at farmers market not only gives you access to fresher produce and goods, but it is also healthier for the environment. This is because the food is typically grown nearby, requires less transportation, and generally isn't wrapped in plastic like much of the produce found in grocery stores (Maes, 2018).

Being an Eco-Friendly Traveler

56. Do not print; use the app

If you can (not all airline allows it), put your boarding pass on an app on your phone rather than printing it to throw it away. If you do print, put it in a scrapbook to not waste! (Mollie, 2021)

57. Choose alternative transport

Take a bus or train instead, or cycle or walk. It is worth the extra few hours, and you get some epic views! (Mollie, 2021)

You can also car share; a great way to make new friends, cut your carbon emissions and save some money! (Mollie, 2021)

58. Use electric cars

If you rent a car for a road trip, rent an electric car. A little bit of research to find an electric car rental will keep your wallet full and the planet green! (Mollie, 2021)

59. Compare airlines and their fuel emissions

Airlines like TUI, Norwegian and Thomas Cook, and over the pond, Alaska Airlines, and Continental Airlines, make the conscious effort to ensure a high in-use fuel efficiency score compared to other airlines. These airlines provide optimum carbon emission efficiency with that extra bit of effort. EasyJet has also promised to reduce carbon emissions significantly in the next three years. Try to choose an airline that has already reduced, or is trying to reduce, emissions (Mollie, 2021).

60. Stay in eco-friendly hotels and hostels

These "eco-hotels" or "green hotels" offer environmentally friendly accommodation. They've taken steps to ensure that they implement green living practices that are non-toxic and safer for humans and the planet.

Some eco-friendly features of a "green hotel" include:

  • water conservation – low flow water and low flow showers
  • energy saving – longer lasting energy durable LED light bulbs, using renewable energy sources
  • sustainable food – locally grown produce from local farmers, hormone free meats and dairy products, reusable dishes and kitchen utensils (Mollie, 2021).

61. Reduce plastic consumption by packing reusable items

Use reusable coffee cups and water bottles (Mollie, 2021).

62. Be more conscious when shopping for souvenirs

  • Only buy it if it means a lot to you or will add value to your life. Don’t buy something you forget about and ends up at the bottom of a drawer or in the bin.
  • Buy souvenirs that support the local community. Think local markets with local people that will have direct impact.
  • Buy things made from recycled and sustainable material.
  • Avoid purchasing animal products. Souvenirs that are made from ivory and other animal parts is supporting poachers and is increasing the risk of endangering certain species. If you are unsure, always ask the origin of the souvenir and how it’s been made.
  • Instead of plastic ‘tat’, opt for more personalized keepsakes like beer mats from your favourite bar, tickets from a mindblowing landmark or boarding passes from your flight (if you print them)! The perfect way to reduce plastic consumption while adding to your scrapbook! (Mollie, 2021).

63. Join a beach clean up and leave only footprints

Beach cleanups are fun and interactive ways to meet new people while positively impacting your visiting area. Tourism websites can identify local beach cleanups (Mollie, 2021).

64. Go to sustainable restaurants

These are places that ensure they buy locally and reduce their waste. A lot of these will be vegan or vegetarian restaurants (as reducing the amount of meat you eat is a big way to be more eco-friendly), but some will include restaurants that make sure they—for example—catch fish in a sustainable way (Mollie, 2021).

65. Buy local

Avoid Starbucks and go to an independent coffee shop and try something new! The same goes for restaurants and supermarket chains (Mollie, 2021).

66. Avoid anything that feels like exploitation

A relatively well-known example would be elephant riding in Thailand. If you think it's causing more damage, it's best avoided! (Mollie, 2021).

67. Hang up your towels after each use

This is by far one of the most frustrating things about travelers. You don't wash your towels every day at home, so why do it when you travel? Hanging up your towels after each use is the universal sign that you'd like to use them again. So instead of chucking them on the floor, hang them up to save heaps of water and energy used to launder them (Lucy, 2022).

68. Return maps, brochures, and other tourist info once you're finished with them so that future travelers may reuse them

By returning all your tourist information guides either to the tourist information office or to your hotel, they may be reused by future travelers.

This saves more copies being printed out in the future. Or better still, entirely save paper waste by going digital! You can download offline maps onto your phone so that even when you have no internet abroad, you can still get around easily (Lucy, 2021).

69. When you leave your room, always turn off all lights, heat/A.C., and television

Turn them off since you are not using any of these resources while out of the room (Lucy, 2021).

70. Carbon offset your flight

One way to reduce your carbon footprint when you fly is to carbon offset your flight. When you book your next flight, just tick the little carbon offset box, and for very little extra money, your emissions will be compensated for. The funds generally go to projects involved in tree planting, renewable energy, or conservation (Lucy, 2021).

71. Avoid places suffering from over-tourism

Most travelers don't think twice about how their next holiday destination will impact the local community. They just go wherever they want, whenever they want. However, many places around the world are severely struggling with over-tourism. Over-tourism is when there are too many visitors to a particular destination.

As a result, you may see rent prices pushing out local tenants to make way for holiday rentals, narrow roads becoming jammed with tourist vehicles, and wildlife being scared away (Lucy, 2021).

72. Avoid going on a cruise

They destroy a football field worth of reef every time they drop anchor (half is dragged up, the other half suffocates under the rubble). On average, they release three times more CO2 than planes. And they have been caught multiple times throwing plastic trash overboard at night (Claire, 2022).

73. Fly non-stop

Pit stops and layovers mean at least one extra takeoff and landing, responsible for half of the carbon emissions during a single flight (Yale, 2022).

74. Schedule back-to-back appointments

You can group a couple of meetings with extra planning rather than making separate trips. Not only will you save fuel, but you'll also save time and money (Yale, 2022).

75. Adjust the thermostat

By lowering the temperature by two degrees in the winter or raising it by two in the summer, you will save a lot of energy. You most likely won't notice the difference (Yale, 2022).

76. Take showers (10-25 gallons of water) instead of baths (70 gallons of water)

Shorten your showers by turning off the water while you lather up, shave, and brush your teeth (Yale, 2022).

Be an Eco-Friendly Foodie

77. Eat more plants

Farming animals for meat and dairy requires space and huge amounts of water and feed. The livestock industry alone generates nearly 15% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. With global meat consumption soaring 500% between 1992 and 2016, it is clear we need to rebalance our diets by prioritizing plants and moderating our intake of animal products (WWF-UK, nd).

78. Eat more variety

75% of the world's food supply comes from just 12 plants and five animal species. Greater diversity in our diets is essential as the lack of variety in agriculture is both bad for nature and a threat to food security (WWF-UK, nd).

79. Cut the waste

Food waste is a big problem. 30% of the food produced is wasted, with serious repercussions for the environment. In fact, if food waste were a country, it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses after China and the USA. Reducing waste in your household is simple: freeze anything you can't eat while it's fresh and, where possible, buy loose produce so you can select the exact amount that you need (WWF-UK, nd).

80. Grow your own food

What's better than fresh, home-grown produce straight from the garden? As well as being healthy and delicious, it is free from the carbon footprint of shop-bought food (WWF-UK, nd).

81. Eat what's in season

When possible, try to include seasonal produce from your local farm shop or greengrocer in your diet. As well as supporting your local economy, you might get to know local producers and get tips on how to prepare seasonal foods (WWF-UK, nd).

82. Embrace leftovers

While we all can appreciate a freshly cooked meal, dishes eaten a few days later can be just as good and, in some cases, even better. Eating leftovers not only helps reduce food waste but can save money and time (Hutcherson et al., 2021).

Other Eco-Friendly Habits

83. Buy a cleaner car

Vehicles produce about one-third of all U.S. air pollution, and the contaminants emitted are more of a health threat than those from smokestacks because they are at ground level, where we live, work, and play. According to the EPA, cars, and trucks also account for 23% of total U.S. GHG emissions, with the average passenger vehicle producing about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Buying a fuel-efficient car reduces air pollution and your carbon footprint and saves you money. The difference between a car that gets 20 miles per gallon (mpg) and one that gets 30 mpg amounts to about $708 in fuel costs per year, or $3,538 over five years (Peters, 2021).

84. Drive efficiently

Fast accelerations and high speeds use up fuel, and abrupt stops waste energy. By driving gently, you can lower your gas mileage by up to 33% on the highway and 5% in the city, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The optimal highway speed for gas mileage is 50 mph; your gas mileage drops quickly after that. Don't idle your car, especially while running the air conditioner. In the winter, give your car only 30 seconds to warm up; it will warm up quickly when you start driving. Regular maintenance will help your vehicle run at top efficiency; fixing serious maintenance problems can improve mileage by up to 40% (Peters, 2019).

85. Leave your car home

Whenever you avoid getting into your car, you do the environment a favor. Walk or bike when you can, and use public transportation where you can't. Find companionable people who make the same routine trips you do and form a carpool. Rather than taking short trips to do your errands, combine your trips, thereby reducing mileage and avoiding several cold starts (Peters, 2019).

86. Pay attention to labels

The number of options out there can get overwhelming, from coffee to fruit to clothing, but there are some clear leaders when it comes to minimizing your impact on wildlife and the planet. If you're a coffee drinker, look for "shade-grown" coffee, which is grown while keeping forest habitats intact for migratory birds and other species. Choose Fair Trade certified goods when possible to support companies dedicated to sustainable production and paying laborers a fair wage (Center for Biological Diversity, nd).

87. Keep your car serviced

This helps to keep emissions low and your car running efficiently (Kate, 2020).

In Conclusion

This list is definitely a non-exhaustive one, as there are a tremendous amount of ways in which you can help combat climate change and its impacts. This list can serve as a starting point to guide you with your new mission to be more environmental-friendly. Your future generations and yourself will thank you later.

 
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Jeanne Perrine

Jeanne Perrine is a Sustainability Consultant who provides consultancy services in the strategic planning and management of sustainability programs. She holds a master’s degree in Sustainability Science. Jeanne was the first Fulbright Scholar from her home island (Rodrigues) and proudly represented the island during her time in the US. In her free time, Jeanne enjoys a good hike, listening to music, and working out.

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