7 Ways to Live More Sustainably

Sustainable Cleaning Products and Eucalyptus

Look­ing for ways to live more sus­tain­ably but unsure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place.

We’re big advo­cates of liv­ing sus­tain­ably at Apt­De­co. It’s easy to do and makes an impact, but not every­one knows where to start. So we’re break­ing down our top 7 ways to live more sus­tain­ably in every­day life. 

First, some back­ground. Our plan­et’s con­sump­tion and waste lev­els con­tin­ue to reach an all-time high, and we’ve only recent­ly become more aware of how our foot­print affects the plan­et. This is in part due to rel­e­vant data becom­ing more read­i­ly available—all point­ing to how our waste habits are hurt­ing the plan­et. But how did we over­look our con­sump­tion habits for so many years? As peo­ple were able to live more com­fort­ably in the mid-1900s, our con­sump­tion habits grew with­out much con­se­quence. Peo­ple start­ed pur­chas­ing non-essen­tial items more fre­quent­ly, and there was more dis­pos­able income to go around. Sin­gle-use prod­ucts, like plas­tic bags and fast food pack­ag­ing, fol­lowed quick­ly behind and became eas­i­ly acces­si­ble to the mass­es. Back then, the sci­ence point­ing to neg­a­tive con­se­quences wasn’t com­mon­ly known. Today it is. 

We now know that our con­sump­tion and waste habits are dis­rupt­ing ecosys­tems, killing wildlife and caus­ing per­ma­nent dam­age to our plan­et. We have a lot of work to do. Thank­ful­ly, there’s so much we can do to help reverse the dam­age we’ve done—beginning at home. Mak­ing small changes to your dai­ly rou­tine and shop­ping habits is a great way to start. Here, we’re out­lin­ing 7 easy ways to live more sus­tain­ably. Give them the old col­lege try—we bet you’ll be a pro in just a few weeks.

1. Shop pre-owned

Various pre-owned jeans in multiple shades of blue hung on plastic clip hangers on a clothing rack at a used clothing store.

This isn’t a new con­cept as resale stores and sites have been around for quite awhile. How­ev­er, we often over­look the amount of items we can buy gen­tly used (like fur­ni­ture) in favor of the new ver­sion. This day and age, you don’t have to sift through a thrift store to find used gems. Resale sites like Apt­De­co, Offer­Up and Posh­mark all offer ways to shop pre-owned with the click of a but­ton. Next time you go to pur­chase clothes, elec­tron­ics or fur­ni­ture try perus­ing some pre-owned sites first.

Look­ing to buy used fur­ni­ture? Try Apt­De­co. We take the has­sle out of shop­ping used by han­dling pick­up, deliv­ery and assem­bly. Pay­ments are all online and there’s no hag­gling, so the plat­form oper­ates like a retail site. Plus, deliv­ery win­dows are usu­al­ly with­in the week, so you don’t have to wait months for that back­o­rdered sofa you’ve been eye­ing. The best part? Apt­De­co offers top brands, like West Elm and CB2, so you can score some high-end finds at low-end prices.

2. Switch to reusable kitchen accessories

Sliced cucumbers partially wrapped in sustainable beeswax wrap, on top of a wood handled cutting board with a turquoise background.

Did you know that half of all plas­tics pro­duced are designed to be used only once? As a result, humans cre­ate over 300 mil­lion tonnes of plas­tic waste every year. Out of the top 10 items found in beach cleanups, over 60% of the items are plas­tic. This is all to say—switching to reusable prod­ucts mat­ters and is an essen­tial step to liv­ing more sustainably.

It’s also so much eas­i­er and cheap­er in the long run that you’ll look back and won­der why you ever bought sin­gle-use prod­ucts in the first place. 

These reusable ver­sions of pop­u­lar plas­tic items are a great place to start:

  • Reusable water bot­tles (once you live the reusable-bot­tle-life you’ll nev­er look back.)
  • Cloth gro­cery and shop­ping bags (plus, they look cool!)
  • Met­al and sil­i­cone drink­ing straws (there are even retractable key­chain ver­sions for on-the-go)
  • Soda Stream machine in place of bot­tled sodas (hot tip: add a lit­tle lemon & it’ll taste just like your favorite seltzer brand)
  • Beeswax wrap in place of saran wrap and tin foil (you can wash and reuse it!)

3. Learn how to recycle properly

Various recycling bins to help the environment - yellow metal bin, blue cardboard bin, green plastic bin, orange glass bin, and a clear box bin.

We hate to break it to you, but there’s a good chance you don’t know how to recy­cle prop­er­ly. But, it’s not total­ly your fault. Over half of Amer­i­cans are con­fused about how to recy­cle. And for good reason—it’s per­plex­ing and requires a very spe­cif­ic set of skills rules. 

A few items you can’t recy­cle? Card­board soaked in liq­uid or grease, aerosol cans, plas­tic bags and straws, bub­ble wrap and even most books. In some sit­u­a­tions (like in cer­tain office build­ings), your build­ing won’t be able to accept a bag of recy­cled mate­ri­als if even one item isn’t recy­clable, mak­ing it extreme­ly impor­tant to know how to prop­er­ly dis­pose of dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als. Below are a few resources to get you started.

Here’s a guide of what to recy­cle, and what not to recycle 

Here’s how to read recy­cling labels on products

4. Incorporate reusable personal and cleaning products 

Various reusable and sustainable cleaning and kitchen utensils, including wood and metal scrub brushes, bamboo serving spoons, wood measuring spoons, cloth napkins a glass bottle and small wood serving bowls.

The need for envi­ron­men­tal change is well-known by now, and as a result, a lot of com­pa­nies have made it their mis­sion to cre­ate said change. Essen­tial items are being reimag­ined into sus­tain­able, reusable ver­sions. Here’s the eas­i­est way to jump in: the next time you’re out of a prod­uct, try switch­ing it out for it’s more sus­tain­able cousin. Below is a list of easy switch­es you can make. 

You can also read up on our favorite sus­tain­able brands, then do your own research. 

5. Buy in bulk

Grocery store bulk food aisle with grains, nuts, beans and dried fruits in plastic containers with plastic scooping spoons to save resources.

This one’s simple—start buy­ing your prod­ucts in bulk when­ev­er pos­si­ble to reduce waste. This could mean get­ting a whole­sale mem­ber­ship, or sim­ply buy­ing your grains, beans and nuts from the bulk foods aisle at the gro­cery store. It’s cheap­er, too!

Plus, you can store them in fun con­tain­ers that make your pantry look extra organized.

6. Buy grocery items without plastic containers whenever possible

Example of what you should avoid buying at the grocery store to be more sustainable - image of green spinach and arugula in plastic lettuce containers.

Anoth­er gro­cery shop­ping tip—be cog­nizant of what you’re putting in your cart. Does your let­tuce need to come in a plas­tic case or can you buy it loose? Is there an option to buy eggs in a card­board car­ton? These changes add up.

Bonus: skip the pro­duce bags, you’ll wash it when you get home anyways!

7. Limit the waste you create 

White ceramic compost bin sitting on a kitchen countertop, with vegetable food scraps inside. Used for sustainable living.

Food waste is a lead­ing cre­ator of green­house gas­es. In fact, when food waste ends up in land­fills it pro­duces a large amount of methane, which has 21 times the glob­al warm­ing poten­tial of C02. On top of that, over 40% of food gets wast­ed in America! 

Feel­ing bad about toss­ing last night’s left­overs yet? Us too. Here’s what you can do:

  • Only buy what you know you’ll eat—what’s anoth­er trip to the gro­cery store if not a few extra steps?
  • Donate or give it away—find a local food dona­tion site. In big­ger cities, free food fridges are pop­ping up where you can give away extras to those in need.
  • Be cog­nizant of what you’re throw­ing away—take stock of what you have in the fridge every few days. Is some­thing going bad soon? Freeze it or work it into that night’s din­ner. If you plan ahead, you’ll save a huge amount of food.
  • Com­post­ing. The moth­er of all sus­tain­able prac­tices. Com­post­ing can be easy giv­en the right mate­ri­als and prac­tices, but it’s still the most daunt­ing task on this list. We rec­om­mend work­ing up to it, but when you’re ready to get start­ed here’s a guide.

Need a more tan­gi­ble idea of how you can make a dif­fer­ence? Cal­cu­late your cur­rent car­bon foot­print. Then, cal­cu­late it again after you’ve made these changes. The results may sur­prise you!

Now that you have some tricks up your sleep you can start to live sus­tain­ably today! If you’re not sure where to start, pick one or two that feel easy to accom­plish and begin there. It’s ok to start small and build! Before you know it, you’ll be a sus­tain­abil­i­ty guru.

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