30 People on Their Innovative Ways to Living Eco-Friendly
1. Plant-Based Dieting
“About three years ago, my husband and I started eating a plant-based diet. We had many reasons for doing so, but reducing our carbon footprint(s) was a major factor. Since adopting a plant-based diet, I’ve actually created a plant-based food blog to provide free recipes to others. Hopefully, this will give more people the resources to also make this change and reduce their carbon footprint as well!”
- Kelsey Riley of Planted in the Kitchen
2. Lower Car Usage
“The most significant change I’ve made to live a more sustainable lifestyle is limiting the time I spend in my car. Any small errand that is within biking or walking distance is a no-car errand for me. I also try to plan errands along with my commute home so that I am making fewer trips and therefore spending less time driving. This has helped me reduce my carbon emissions, save on gas, and get more exercise.”
- Ravi Parikh, CEO, RoverPass
3. Reuse At-Home Waste
“Did you know that food in our landfills is more than any other category of trash? Here are a few simple tips to reduce food waste:
1. Learn how to repurpose leftovers. Find recipes online or on Youtube for inspiration.
2. Freeze fresh fruits and vegetables that are about to turn.
3. Donate safe-to-consume food to a food pantry, food bank, soup kitchen, or shelter.
4. Store food properly and do the FIFO system.
5. Don’t overbuy. Check your pantry and fridge before you go grocery shopping.”
- Johna Burdeous of Dietician Johna
4. Downsize Your Living Space
“I’ve downsized and moved into a school bus this month.”
- Nneka Brown-Massey of Innovative Supplies
5. Improve Window Insulation
“We recently had our windows replaced in our home with more energy-efficient windows. While it can be a higher up-front cost, you’ll end up saving money throughout the year on heating and cooling your home. After a few years of continued savings, the new windows have paid for themselves. Especially in the heat of the summer, it’s important to have windows that can keep the heat out while keeping the cool air in, so your HVAC unit is continuously running. We’ve noticed we can set the thermostat two degrees higher than we used to, and the house still feels comfortable. Using less energy is a great step toward reducing one’s carbon footprint.”
- James Green, Owner, Cardboard Cutouts
6. Stop Buying Plastic Bottles
“One way I’ve reduced my carbon footprint is that I’ve stopped buying plastic water bottles. Instead, I use a reusable water bottle that I can fill up routinely and take with me. I also invested in a water filter so that I know the water I’m drinking and putting into my bottle is the cleanest and best possible water. Through this, I’ve saved money and helped the environment!”
- Grace Baena, Director of Brand at Kaiyo
7. Walk and Bike More Often
“One way I’ve reduced my carbon footprint is by bicycling and walking to work. I’m lucky enough to live close enough to the office to be able to do this, and it’s completely changed the way I tackle the day. I’ve found that through commuting this way, I feel more energized, happy, and productive once I get to the office — and the knowledge that I’m helping the environment in some small way is a huge benefit!”
- Josh Snead, CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance
8. Go Solar
“I switched on reusable energy by going solar. Instead of relying on traditional electricity supplied by electrical providers, I have chosen to put solar panels to significantly decrease my usage of fossil fuels and, as a result, my household’s carbon footprint. Although it is more costly upfront, cutting carbon emissions is significantly more successful than any other method.”
- Lily Wili of Ever Wallpaper
9. Improve Home Insulation
While it’s easier than ever to be plastic-free, it’s not the only thing we can do to reduce our carbon footprint. In your home, making sure you have quality insulation is a great way to help reduce energy costs in the summer and the winter. Great insulation will ensure that the cold air stays inside your house in the summer and outside your house in the winter. You can save significant money over the course of a few years by making sure your home is properly insulated. When you can, open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioning, as well. Every little bit of energy saved is a reduction in the overall carbon footprint.
- Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio
10. Switch to Swedish Dishcloths
“I have two young toddlers learning to eat and drink, so food gets flung on the floor, on the walls, on the table…everywhere! We were going through 1 roll of paper towels every two days. Swedish dishcloths are a very eco-friendly (and budget-friendly) alternative to paper towels since they are reusable and washable. I’ve cut my paper towel usage down by at least half since I discovered them.”
- Michelle McCarthy, Founder, Fresh Flowers + Spilled Milk
11. Watch What You’re Buying
“Being mindful in my purchases is a way I’ve found to reduce my carbon footprint. I try to buy from companies that are committed to reaching carbon neutral in the near future. I try to buy only seasonal fruits and vegetables, so they’re sourced locally rather than shipped in from other states or countries. Companies that have eco-friendly packaging get priority over those that don’t, whenever possible. These all seem like very small changes, but if everyone did them, it would make a huge impact on the environment.”
- Daivat Dholakia, VP of Operations, Essenvia
12. Reduce Your Charging
“I actually use Wi-Fi plugs, bulbs, and apps to save energy, and it’s worked amazingly.
I have a deep freezer, and my timer turns it off every 5 hours or so for about an hour. The same for my toothbrush. Why charge it all day long when at most, we use them twice a day for 2 minutes each time?
More here: Wi-Fi Bulbs and Plugs.”
- Patricia Nixon of Everything at Home with Patricia
13. Cut Out Mindless Plastic Usage
“I have been taking my lunch to work for years and just realized I have been using the hospital’s plastic utensils and paper napkins all this time!! I went to the .99¢ store and bought a set of utensils and took my own cloth napkin (also something I changed at my home) in my lunch now. I also bought Makeup Eraser makeup removers, and they are AMAZING! Oh yeah, my coworkers laugh at me, but I stopped using med cups at work years ago for this reason! Far Too much plastic in this world!”
- Karen Jimenez of Nourish to Flourish
14. Some Simple Lifestyle Changes
“Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make huge changes to reduce your carbon footprint, and there are several things you can do to help do your part. A few things I’ve started doing in an effort to reduce my own carbon footprint are:
Reusable Bags — I’m a big fan of using reusable bags when I go out to do my shopping. They’re tote bags that can fit a decent amount in, and I can use them over and over again. You can buy or make your own if you’re handy with a sewing machine, and you can put a stiff piece of cardboard in the bottom to make the bag stand up and give it more stability.
Swap Out Light Bulbs — I’ve changed out my older light bulbs for energy-efficient LED ones. You can easily find energy-star certified bulbs, and you will pay a tiny bit more for them. However, they usually make up for it in savings and with how long they last when compared to traditional bulbs.
Gardening — I’m a huge fan of gardening, so I started growing a lot of my own food and preserving it for use all year round. I use as much of it as I can, and I have my own compost pile to help deal with the scraps in a way that feeds the environment, and I make myself excellent compost to add to my garden soil next season to give my plants a boost.”
- Jen Stark of Happy DIY Home
15. Some More Simple Lifestyle Changes
“1. Walk to the Store rather than drive
We tend to use the car much more than we should. I’ve learned to walk to a local shop rather than drive, even if it means a 15-minute walk with a large rucksack on the back. And it’s good for health too!
2. Learn to live in sync with the sunlight
I used to be a night owl, but I’m much more of an early bird now. Waking up around 6 am allows me to do a lot of work with natural lighting. I make sure I go to bed before 10 pm so as to use as little artificial light as possible. And it’s good for health too!
3. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs
I was able to slash even further my electricity consumption with this simple trick. It only takes a few minutes to replace all bulbs around the house, and the benefits are instantly great on both your wallet and the planet.”
- Eddie Chevrel of The Pet Savvy
16. And Even More Lifestyle Changes
“#1. Shifted To Hybrid Vehicle
I made a shift to a hybrid vehicle which helps in reducing my carbon footprint. This is because a hybrid vehicle uses both an electric motor and a gasoline engine which results in much less fuel consumption. My Toyota CH-R gives excellent mileage, and it’s very affordable to operate as well as environment friendly. In addition, I no longer have to visit the gas station as often as I used to.
#2. Diet Plan
Consuming less meat and dairy products is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Emissions from raising livestock contribute significantly to climate change, and by reducing or eliminating your consumption of these products, you can make a big impact. Consider adding more plant-based foods to your diet, and enjoy the many benefits that come with eating a healthier diet.”
- Fred Hoffman of The True Wilderness
17. Shop Locally
“Albeit more expensive than usual, I now shop at local stores. I did this lifestyle change when I was able to fully fund my expenses. I know that big supermarkets and other retailers use a lot of middlemen. Hence, more fuels are used to transport their products, and more wastes are produced from production to the shelf display of the markets. As much as I can, I shop at local stores, so I get my products and services more directly from the producers. This greatly lessens the expenses on transport and packaging, as well as marketing, hence, lesser wastes produced too. Buying directly from producers not only reduces my carbon footprint but also empowers the community trade and economics, so it is like hitting two birds with one stone.”
- Craig Miller of Academia Labs
18. Switch to Cloth Diapers
“Cloth diapers. The biggest and simplest lifestyle change that I made was to switch to the use of cloth diapers instead of using disposable diapers for my baby. Many studies have been conducted and have stated that babies use about 7000 disposable diapers from the newborn stage until successful potty training. These 7000 diapers can all end up in landfills and oceans and may greatly endanger animals. These animals then may create a biomagnified effect when eaten and may endanger humans. Hence, I chose to use cloth diapers for my baby. We tried potty training her earlier, too, so water and detergent use will also be lessened. This lifestyle change came with more effort as we had to wash and dry these cloth diapers immediately after being soiled, but the effort is totally worth it when compared to the carbon footprint we have reduced due to this lifestyle change. Hence, though we are tired, we are happy.”
- Sharon Dylan of Management Library
19. Go Vegan, Ditch the Plastic
“It’s a bit of a misconception — that it’s the plastic straws that are the biggest enemy of the environment. Although this is true in a way, the reality is — fishing is also a huge problem.
Fishing disrupts food webs by targeting specific, in-demand species. There might be too much fishing of prey species such as sardines and anchovies, plus reducing the food supply for the predators.
Disrupting these types of wasp-waist species has effects throughout the ecosystem.
So what did I do?
I went completely vegan and plastic-free. I shop at the local market for veggies and bring my own eco-friendly bag. I avoid buying fresh products from the shops, as they are typically packaged in plastic.
Being vegan, in my opinion, is the best thing we can do for the environment and to reduce our carbon footprint.
Another thing I did was find a work-from-home job, which stopped me driving to work every day.”
- Elena Dyulgerova of Vegevega
20. Follow “The Three R’s.”
“The Three R’s — reduce, reuse, recycle — are well known at this point. Most of us are familiar with the idea that we should reduce our consumption, reuse items whenever possible, and recycle anything that can’t be reused. But why is it so important to reduce our carbon footprint? One of the biggest reasons is that the production of stuff requires energy and that energy usually comes from burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and those gases trap heat.
The more stuff we consume, the more greenhouse gases are released, and the more the Earth’s temperature rises. That’s why reducing our consumption is so important — it’s one of the most effective things we can do to fight climate change. And fortunately, there are lots of ways to reduce our consumption without reducing our quality of life. For example, we can repair items instead of buying new ones, or we can buy used items instead of new ones. We can also make an effort to recycle anything that can’t be reused. By making small changes in our habits, we can make a big difference in the fight against climate change.
There’s something so satisfying about breathing new life into something that would otherwise be headed for the landfill. Not only does it save you money, but it also reduces your carbon footprint and helps to keep valuable materials out of the waste stream. And with the internet being awash in creative ideas, there’s really no excuse not to get started on your own reuse project.
For starters, try searching for Facebook groups in your area dedicated to reusing. You’ll be amazed at the wealth of resources and inspiration that you’ll find there. Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, start a group of your own! Who knows, you might just end up becoming the next big thing in the world of reuse.”
- Julia Jenkins of GetVegan
21. Buy From Eco-Friendly Businesses
“One of the easiest ways to make an impact in supporting businesses that prioritize being carbon neutral or even negative. Think about the lifecycle of the products you purchase. How was it made, how will you use it, how long will it last, and what happens after its useful life? Bonus points for products that are biodegradable!”
- Bernie of REECH
22. Only Buy Non-New Products
”The first step we have taken in the direction of tackling climate change is our no-new-buy pledge. We do not buy any new clothes, shoes or toys. Thrift stores and swap communities help us immensely to stick to it. My younger child is 2, and we haven’t even bought him a single new t-shirt or diaper. Apart from cloth diapering, we also use sustainable alternatives to other essentials like bath products and lotions. We have also found farmer markets and packaging-free stores from where we buy stuff in reusable containers. Bamboo toothbrushes, menstrual cups, steel straws, and cutlery pouches are some investments we have made to move towards zero waste living. If we need to buy something, we first assess how long we’d use it and invest in high-quality, expensive stuff that will stand the test of time. I have used old bedsheets for reusable grocery bags, and we upcycle old stuff as much as we can. We aren’t living a completely zero-waste lifestyle yet, but we are trying. I also invest in climate projects that help to offset carbon emissions.”
- Smriti Tuteja of Yogic Experience
23. Switch to Menstrual Cups
“As a woman, I always experience a monthly period, and I know the amount of waste it produces. Hence, the simple lifestyle change that I made was to switch to a menstrual cup instead of using disposable menstrual pads whenever I have my monthly menstruation. A menstrual cup can act as a replacement for menstrual pads as they are able to catch the period blood. It can be sanitized and reused so many times, so the amount of waste that I was able to reduce was huge, especially since menstrual pads are made of cellulose, cotton, and plastics. Since plastic is an integral part of the product, it may end up in drainage or even the ocean and endanger sea animals. Hence, through menstrual cups, I was able to completely get rid of these monthly wastes without even introducing anything harmful to my body. I highly suggest that other people should do the same.”
- Rachel Scott of National TASC
24. Find the Better Alternatives
“Reducing carbon footprints is related to the responsibility we must have for our attitudes toward the consequences of our choices in everyday life. In this context, I have a few tips to share;
Reduce processed foods. By ceasing to consume them, you exclude preservatives from your daily life and also reduce the amount of waste produced (through plastic packaging used to store them).
Bet on faucet aerators to address and control water wastage. There is not a single tap in my house and office that is without faucet aerators, and the result is a 13 % decrease in water wastage. In addition, for cleaning, we prefer using biodegradable products because they are less harmful to the environment. For example, the use of brooms to remove heavy dirt helps to save water.
To reduce carbon footprints, plants are the great heroes in this task. This is because they consume carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and release oxygen. We have exactly 168 plants on our premises, and the number is growing by ten plants every month. To encourage plantations, we motivate our employees to adopt any plant and take care of it.
Some quick tips for adapting to reduce carbon footprints;
Swap cotton tampons and pads for reusable menstruation products, such as silicone cups
Reuse tea bags to neutralize odors and as a plant food;
Invest in reusable chopsticks, so you don’t need the disposable versions.
Try bamboo makeup cotton pads instead of disposable ones.”
- Ronald Williams of BestPeopleFinder
25. Look Into the Technology You Use
“Investing in the right tech and electronics and just being more conscious of my lifestyle has helped me reduce my carbon footprint. I believe that it’s important to research the products you intend to buy before you purchase them because it helps you become more informed about how they’ll impact your lifestyle. Making smart purchases comes with multiple benefits.
Other than this, I make it a point to always be on the lookout for ways to reduce my carbon footprint. Staying informed can help you make the right changes to your lifestyle.”
- Simon Elkjær of avXperten
26. Bring Containers to the Grocery Store
“The simplest change I have made is in my shopping habits. As a chef, I buy a lot of food — something that can often lead to a lot of plastic waste. In an effort to reduce my carbon footprint, I now only bring reusable plastic containers with me to the Store and do most of my shopping from bulk bins in plastic-free stores. This has dramatically reduced my plastic waste output, and I often find that the food is much better quality from these stores too!”
- Anna Silver of Cook for Folks
27. Think About Home Purchases
"I have recently upgraded my house by replacing all the plastic equipment with more sustainable choices, like loofah by coconut loofah, plastic bags with reusable tote bags, and so on. I am a big lover of plants, and previously I used to put fake decor planters for my indoor rooms but recently, I switched to real ones for indoors. And since then I have decided this for the whole house. I think it starts with small steps, and if everyone gives their little input, we can create a major positive impact on the environment."
- Robert Welch of Projector1
28. Say “No” to Fast Fashion
“Try not to purchase fast style. In vogue, modest things that become unfashionable rapidly get unloaded in landfills, where they produce methane as they disintegrate. As of now, the typical American disposes of around 80 pounds of dress every year, 85% of which winds up in landfills. Moreover, most quick style comes from China and Bangladesh, so transportation to the U.S. requires the utilization of petroleum products. All things being equal, purchase quality attire that will endure.”
- John Hart of Falcon River
29. Switch to Steel Bottles and LED Lights
“Use of reusable steel water bottles
Instead of plastic water bottles, when we use reusable water bottles made with safe materials like steel, we help reduce the carbon footprint significantly. Not only do we avoid the production of new plastic water bottles, but we also prevent the need for all the energy and resources required to recycle them.
Using LED light bulbs
LEDs use much less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, which means they help reduce your carbon footprint. They also last much longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often.”
- Harriet Chan of CocoFinder
30. Quick Ways to Reduce Waste and Emissions
“One of the simplest things I have done to reduce my carbon footprint is making sure to use up all of our leftover food. I bought clear glass containers to store the food in our fridge so I can clearly see what we have that needs eating. I always place food that needs to be eaten first on the bottom shelf of our fridge. If you have leftover food and you’re not sure what to do with it, look online for recipe inspiration. You have to be prepared to have some odd combinations of foods sometimes, but you get used to that.
Doing a waste audit for your home is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. It’s not as scary as it sounds and is a fairly simple process. You need to monitor and record everything that goes into your bin for a set period of time. I’d recommend a week or two. After the set time, you will have a much clearer idea of what you’re throwing. By knowing what you’re throwing away, you can research more sustainable alternatives for those items.
A really simple and quick way to reduce your carbon footprint that also has a big impact is to switch to a 100% renewable energy supplier. It takes a few minutes to do online.
Ditch the car and get walking. Transport has a huge impact on our environment. Whenever you can walk to your destination rather than drive your car. If you can’t walk, more sustainable transport options include pushbikes, electric scooters, trains, and buses.”
- Georgina Caro of Gypsy Soul
Transport is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions by individuals and also one of the easiest to change simply by reconsidering how you get around.
Many of us hop on planes for business or holidays without considering the consequences for the planet. Out of transport types, mile for mile flying has the most damaging impact on the climate.
Consider a staycation in your own country instead, or traveling internationally by train. “Slow travel” by boat or train is one of the hottest trends of 2020. Make the journey part of the experience rather than a means to an end.
Ways to reduce your carbon footprint with travel
If flying is unavoidable, offset the carbon emissions of your flight. This can be done through a monthly subscription that takes into account the number of flights you take or a one-off payment.
Not only does cycling produce no CO2 emissions, but it also takes cars off the road that would otherwise add to pollution and congestion. It’s also a great way of staying fit and healthy.
Public transport is also a good alternative to driving, with the positive result of fewer cars on the road, so less polluting gases.
Drive less, drive smarter
If you have no choice but to drive, there are some things you can do to reduce your emissions.
Consider a hybrid or electric car. Several comparison services exist to compare the efficiency of different vehicles.
Make sure you’re not carrying excess weight, which reduces fuel efficiency.
Don’t drive like a Formula 1 racer. Going easy on the pedals will reduce your emissions. Slowing down by 10kmph can improve fuel consumption by as much as 25%.
Improve your carbon footprint with what you eat
The impact of your diet on the environment is not just about how many steaks you’re getting through. It’s also about making informed decisions about what you put on your plate and where it’s coming from.
Meat Free Mondays
The meat and dairy industries are huge contributors to global warming. Red meat, in particular, has 100 times the impact of plant-based foods on the environment.
This doesn’t mean you have to go full vegan immediately, but consider a few easy swaps in your diets, such as switching cows’ milk to oat milk and a veggie burger rather than beef. Initiatives like Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary can provide great incentives to help you kick-start a more environmentally friendly diet.
Eat seasonal produce
In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions from production, there is also an environmental impact associated with transportation. Flying those bananas from Colombia will do a lot more damage than eating apples from your local farm. Next time you go to the shops, choose loose veg rather than ones wrapped in several layers of plastic and make sure to check out what’s in season.
Eat more plant-based foods to cut your carbon emissions
Farming fruit and vegetables out of season is much more energy-intensive, so it will have a bigger impact on the climate.
Not only is variety good for our diets, but also for farmland. Farming the same crop all year round drains important nutrients from the soil and gives the ground no time for recovery. By switching up what you’re putting on your plate, you’ll be more in harmony with natural ecosystems.
Globally we throw away around 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year, which is a third of what we grow. Have a quick look through your fridge to check what you’ve got before going to the shops. Getting creative with the parts of food we’d usually throw away can save huge amounts of food from being wasted. This would reduce the demand for food production, resulting in fewer carbon emissions.
We love the Zerowastechef’s inspiring recipes for parts such as carrot tops and cheese rinds that we’d usually chuck.
Cut your carbon emissions with thoughtful shopping
Invest in quality
When shopping, consider buying one item of really good quality that is going to last you for a long time. Buying fast fashion trends have high transport and carbon costs associated, not to mention more waste.
There’s a wealth of independent sustainable producers out there that, thanks to the internet, are all available to us at the click of a button. Consider whether you could spend a little more on an item that you know has been produced sustainably and in an environmentally conscious way. Companies such as Lucy & Yak have committed to offsetting their carbon emissions, and supporting businesses like these encourage others to do the same.
Choosing to purchase your clothes second-hand hugely reduces carbon emissions as well as sends a clear message to fast fashion companies that we will not support them. Look out for Facebook clothes swaps and sales where you can snag a bargain and often locally too.
Buy second-hand clothes to reduce your carbon emissions
Reduce your carbon footprint around the home
From switching the lights off to switching energy providers, there are plenty of things you can do to improve the carbon efficiency of your home.
Turn it off
As well as turning off the lights when you leave a room, think about turning off the heating when you’re not there and at night when you’re snuggled under the duvet. For devices like your TV and computer, it’s better for the environment to turn them off completely at the wall rather than leaving them on standby.
Additionally, replacing your light bulbs with LED lights will use around 85% less energy and last longer, meaning you won’t have to change them as regularly.
Switch energy providers
Renewable energy sources and availability have taken huge leaps in recent decades, making it easier to switch to sustainable energy sources than ever before. This will help you to reduce your carbon footprint. Companies like Bulb make the transition easy and will help you monitor your home’s carbon emissions.
You might also want to think about investing in making your home more sustainable by improving your insulation. If you’re planning to move house, check out the energy efficiency rating of properties. This will not only help your carbon footprint but save you money on bills.
Check what recycling is offered by your local authorities, and then make sure you have all the right bins. Containers say whether or not they are recyclable, and make sure to clean the containers before you pop them in the recycling.
And finally, If you’ve got a garden, why not plant some trees. Trees intake carbon dioxide and release oxygen, combating our own carbon-emitting behaviors.”
- Joel Sanders of Treepoints
This article was brought to you by The Earth Store, an eCommerce business that sells bamboo toothbrushes and donates a portion of each purchase to plant trees so tomorrow’s world can be a better one. Check out our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to receive more content on climate change and the environment.