10 ways to live more sustainably (and save money)

Emma Hargraves
Connector Contributor

Living sustainably means paying attention to how and what one consumes. The goal is to limit our use of energy the best we can and consider the environment in our daily life choices to ensure long-term ecological balance. From cradle to crypt, each commodity contributes to climate change in one way or another, and all the electricity we use more or less starts with the deeply evil fossil fuels. Here are 10 easy ways to live more sustainably:

1) Invest in reusable products

Avoid all one-time-use things:  plastic water bottles, bags, cups, forks, and so on… Plastic never goes away. All of the plastic ever made more or less still exists on the planet. In fact, by weight, the ratio of plastic in the ocean to fish is one to five.

Reusable products are things you can use more than one time. There are reusable products for almost everything, even diapers! Get a nice looking water bottle and stop spending your money on a hundred water bottles a month.

It’s not just plastic—you should use everything more than once. Actually remember those reusable grocery bags! Some of them are even insulated to keep your frozen items cold, and they come in all sorts of cool patterns.

2) Be a minimalist

People’s houses look cleaner when they have less things. Avoid buying things you do not need and try to de-clutter. Spending your money on experiences such as travelling or recreational activities, rather than on consumer goods, is more rewarding anyways.

3) Use less water

Do you really need to wash the towel that dried off your body one time? Use it a few times. When I was living abroad, we got one towel per week. Do the same thing with clothes: save water by getting more than one wear out of each item. Another technique, which I am sure we have all heard, is to turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

4) Use less household energy

Most of our energy comes from fossil fuels, so using less energy is better for the environment, and better for your wallet. One way to do so is to unplug things when you do not need them because they can continue to draw power after you turn things off.

5) Get some awesome window treatments

I promise you will notice a difference with this one. There is nothing like sleeping next to a cold window during the coldest nights of the year. Make sure you have proper insulation all around so the temperature that you are paying to regulate with heating systems or air conditioning does not just fly out the window.

Get some comfortable curtains or snug shades or whatever window treatment you prefer because usually half of your home’s heating and cooling leaks out through windows, walls, the floor and the roof.

6) Buy local

This is particularly promotable in a wonderful place like Lowell with tons of local shopping downtown. It is impossible to imagine how much fossil fuel energy is used to get everything in a grocery store to be there from all over the world.

Shipping all these fruit and vegetables from around the world uses a lot of unnecessary energy. Try to eat in season and stimulate your local economy by spending your dollars downtown, not just on food, but on everything you need. It helps the vendors and helps the environment.

7) Travel efficiently

When getting around to the places you need to be, try to reconsider the way you are doing it. I live on North Campus and frequently venture to downtown Lowell or to South Campus, and I walk everywhere if it is close to, or less than, half an hour.

It is better for your body to walk or bike whenever you can and saves energy compared to driving or taking the bus. Still, try to take the bus if you can, rather than driving, because it uses less energy per person if you travel via bus than if you were to drive yourself in a car.

8) Voice your vote

Get politically involved! Vote for candidates, local and national, with strong environmental policies and attend events. Do whatever you can to support the future of the planet by addressing climate change, over consumption, poisoned wildlife, and human population growth.

9) Read books

Have some spare time? Grab a good book! It not only makes you smarter by helping you build your vocabulary and attention span but also uses less energy than if you were to watch a season of some show or sit and Snapchat for a few hours.

10) Go green

Steer your money towards eco-conscious products and avoid unnecessary encounters with chemicals in your daily life. Buy cleaning and healthcare products without toxic chemicals and more natural, “green,” ingredients. People with sensitivities such as sensitive skin will especially benefit from this. All the chemicals used in these products are harsh and seep into our environment so veer towards natural ingredients.

Thank you for enjoying it to the end of my 10 tips on sustainable living! Now, go out there with your reusable water bottle, a good book, and try to live as sustainably as you can before it is too late.

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