45 Simple Sustainable Habits You Need To Adopt

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I’m only one person, will what I do really make a difference? Yes, it will!

Eco Friendly Habits

If everyone in the US alone followed the following tips, we’d save billions just in energy costs. Habits you adopt now will show up as savings in your pocket. Here’s how:

45 Simple Habits we can adopt ASAP

1. Use cloth napkins. You can save hundreds of dollars a year if you stop using paper napkins. Sames goes for paper towels. (Use hankies instead of tissues too!)

2. Use both sides of the paper. Unless you’re presenting a document to someone, copy on both sides.

3. Bottle your own water. By using a water filter and stainless steel or glass bottles you can save money and keep plastic bottles out of the landfills.

4. Take a shower, not a bath. And shorten your shower time to save water and energy costs.

5. Turn off lights. We’ve been told this growing up, and it really does help!

6. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Again, something we’re told as kids that just makes sense.

7. Plant a tree. Trees use carbon dioxide and create oxygen. Plant a few while you’re at it!

8. Get a tune-up. Your car will run better, use less fuel and produce less emissions when properly tuned.

9. Convert to CNG or propane. If you can, convert your vehicle to compressed natural gas or propane. Both will save you money at the pump and run cleaner, so it saves your engine life and produces fewer emissions.

10. Buy local. When you buy local produce you save money in shipping costs, get fresher produce, and support local farmers. Same goes for eggs, milk and even lumber! (LocalHarvest.org is a great resource for locating farmers in your area.)

11. Keep thermostats moderate. No one wants to walk into a freezing house when it’s 90 outside, nor do they want to broil if the house is too warm. Keep your thermostat at 74° in the summer and 62° in the winter. Better yet, use fans instead of air conditioning.

12. Bring your own coffee cup. I work at a coffee shop at a local college. Every day I see the same kids come in and get paper cups with their coffee. At the 50¢ we charge for a cup, that’s $2.50 saved for the week, not to mention landfill waste. The cups are compostable, but the lids aren’t. It adds up.

13. Group activities. Run errands, get groceries, and carpool to soccer games together. You’ll save on gas… and frustration too.

14. Ride your bike. Gym membership? Nah. Save your money and get in shape by riding your bicycle more often.

15. Unplug appliances when not in use. Even plugged in but turned off, appliances can drain electricity. A computer that’s turned off can save you about 40 watts a day, or about 4¢. Over a year, that adds up to $14.00. While that’s not much, it’s only one thing you can save on.

16. Don’t pre-rinse your dishes. You’ll save 20 gallons of water by just putting your dishes through a normal wash cycle.

17. Don’t preheat your oven. Most ovens bake food just fine without preheating, which wastes energy.

18. Use a “solar” clothes dryer. Yep, hang them out to dry. My family did it out of necessity when I was young because we didn’t have a dryer. Now we do it to save energy, and it leaves laundry smelling great too.

19. Use cold water when you wash clothes. Most detergents will wash just fine in cold water. (You can dissolve homemade powdered laundry detergent in a cup of hot water, then add to a cold load.)

20. Replace your appliances with energy star rated ones. When it’s time for the refrigerator to go, get a more energy efficient one.

21. Stop cutting your lawn, or don’t cut so close. Let you lawn grow out a bit. It’ll save on gas and you won’t have to water as much.

22. Recycle your cell phone. Approximately 130 million cell phones are replaced every year. Donate yours to a local women’s shelter or another charitable location. Even with no service, a charged cell phone can dial 911 in an emergency.

23. Telecommute. Work from home if you can.

24. Use matches, not lighters. These can contribute significantly to waste.

25. Stop using plastic bags. Bring your own reusable shopping bags. This brand folds up into a tiny pouch, making them perfect for storing in your car or purse! You can also make your own reusable food wrap.

26. Use paper based cotton swabs

27. Pay your bills online.

28. Go paperless with paycheck stubs, bank and insurance statements.

29. Keep your freezer and refrigerator full. They will run better and stay cold longer. (Don’t want to buy more food to fill up a freezer? Fill gallon or half gallon jugs ¾ of the way with water and freeze.)

30. Use rechargeable batteries.

31. Grow your own food. You can find all our garden related articles here.

32. Take the bus. If you live in an area with public transportation, use it. In my area, all of the city buses are being converted to CNG, or Compressed Natural Gas.

33. Recycle your ink and toner cartridges.

34. Recycle what you can.

35. Compost what you can’t recycle. 

36. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging. Here are some great tips for saving money by buying in bulk.

37. Consider a solar charger. You can get small ones that will charge your mobile phone and tablet, and also ones that will run a refrigerator for a higher cost.

38. Shop at thrift stores. Consider this another form of recycling.

39. Install a low-flow shower head. This will cut water usage drastically.

40. Put bricks in your toilet tank. Really! A water filled soda bottle will work as well. This displaces the amount of water used to flush each time.

41. Recycle your motor oil. Don’t dump it down the drain.

42. Recycle your tires. I buried mine in the yard, covered them with a pool liner and made splash pools for the birds.

43. Use cloth diapers instead of plastic ones. Over 18 billion diapers are used each year. They make up 1% of the land fill and take up to 500 years to decompose. It takes 1,265,000 metric tons of wood pulp and 75,000 metric tons of plastic to produce these. A cloth diaper can be reused hundreds of times, can be used for rags when worn out and the cotton only takes 3 years or so to decompose.

44. Consider going meatless one day a week. It will force you to eat more of that produce you’re growing/buying!

45. Connect with friends. Friends can often give others ideas that they’d never have thought of.

What are some other simple sustainable habits we can adopt?


image credit to Megan Ann

About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Carmen says

    In addition to using paper napkins also you can use dishtowels and dish squares (some people called then dish rags) instead of paper towels or sponges (which eventually are thrown out. Also the plastic net bags onions and oranges come in can easily be made into a pot scurbber. Brick in toliet? That does displace the water saving on water bills however the brick can chip and possibly clog your plumbing. Instead use an empty 2 litter bottle filled with water. It will displace more water than the brick and you will know exactly how much water it displaces. Make sure to place the 2 litter bottle in the tank as it is filling after flush.

  2. Mary says

    Along with the cloth napkin, we use silverware for lunches instead of plastic ware. We have also tried our best to bring our own “doggy bag” for leftovers when eating out – there are several nice collapsible containers that work well. We have yet to have a restaurant refuse our own containers for leftovers.

  3. Karen says

    One tip about shopping bags. I often forget to get them out of the trunk at the store, so at the top of my grocery list I write “bring bags!” I don’t want to remember at checkout because I am NOT lugging two toddlers out there to get them.

  4. Nancy says

    I would also like to add, for women who are still menstruating, that there are cloth sanitary napkins available, but they are also easy to make. Just as diapers fill landfills, many disposable pads are made of similar things. There are also “cups” that can be inserted to catch menses, washed and reused, I bought one off Amazon six months ago and absolutely LOVE IT. I simply remove it, dump contents, rinse/wash with unscented soap (if not a public restroom, if so just) and reinsert. It cost me less than $25 bucks is made of silicone, and shows no signs of wear as of yet (6 mths of use). The brand I use it the Diva Cup, but there are a lot to choose from.

  5. kitty says

    Yipeeeee, I already do all of those (well except the diaper thing since I am 57!) Once you get in these habits…you never go back.

  6. Paula says

    Use the family cloth or as I call them Personal wipes. I use squares approximately 8 inches to wipe after using the toilet. The wipes have one side that is 100% cotton flannel, the other side is diaper cloth. They are serged or zigzagged together. I don’t use for stools yet, but that might happen one day. I store the cloths in a 2 gallon zip lock bag after use, and wash the cloths in hot water when the bag is full. There has never been a smell in my bathroom. I have done this for almost 2 years. I do keep regular toilet paper in the guest bath, and for that matter in my bath. I don’t expect guests to use my wipes. I only use toilet paper when at work or otherwise not at home. I like the cloths better than toilet paper, no shredding and very comfortable.

    • Nancy says

      We use personal wipes at home as well, however, I do not sew a thing. We simply cut up old t-shirts (again recycling) that have several holes, or have a lot of staining, we do use them for stools, which requires more than putting them in a plastic bag, we keep them in a small waste bucket with a lid that can be lifted by foot pedal which also has an insert bucket that we simply remove, toss rags into the wash, and wash. I used cloth diapers with my children when they were babies, and used cloth wipes as well, so after realizing how much we spent on toilet paper, and the fact that we were cutting down living trees to wipe waste on to toss into our septic systems, I decided using toilet paper was ridiculous….

  7. Dave Parrent says

    And those paper-based q-tips can be composted!
    This one’s kind of gross for some, but when it rains, pick up some worms and throw them into your compost bin. They love it and they multiply like…rabbits!

  8. stella says

    Having to settle an estate is very laborious and time consuming – and made only more so if assets and liabilities are “hidden” online. Yes we should all have that strongbox with our passwords attached to our online data – but we often don’t. A sudden death, a debilitating stroke, or an emergency surgery can trigger a financial mess! I pay my bills online (or thru an automatic withdrawl system) but I get the documents. and I feel its unamerican to put the post office out of business.

    • patti mincher says

      I am so happy to see that I am already doing many of these things. We need to become better at recycling. We put in a huge garden this year, are building a great compost pile and have our own chickens.
      The post office is just another over inflated fat cat system of the government. I don’t feel bad that I use it as little as possible.. Most days my mail box is full junk mail anyway..I buy 1 book of stamps and they last me a year.

  9. Jennifer S. says

    We use a push mower. In fact, my sons use it for their lawn service. We use cloth diapers, line dry and cook as little as possible with pre-packaged food. Great list. I was happy to see how many of these things we do and challenged to find some things we could start doing.

  10. Tricia says

    I make my kids school lunch and use reusable container from their lunch box to reusable sandwich bags. If we do need a plastic Baggie we reuse it until it can’t be used again.

  11. Karen says

    I save money by going to the library and have them print out what I need.
    I have stopped buying printer cartridges and at 30 cents a copy I save an amazing amount. Plus I get to get a free book to read.

  12. longmane says

    I would love it if somebody could clear a couple of things up for me. I have heard that putting bricks in your toilet cistern stops the toilet from being able to flush waste as efficiently, leading to blockages. I have also heard that old tyres leach out dubious chemicals. Can anyone shed some light on these?

    A sustainability tip for dry climates: keep a tub of water in the kitchen sink for rinsing vegetables and juice-dampened hands. Pour the water on the garden when you’re finished with it. Add half-finished glasses of drinking water. Much better than rinsing under a running tap while the water runs down the drain.

  13. Stephanie says

    “21. Stop cutting your lawn, or don’t cut so close. Let you lawn grow out a bit. It’ll save on gas and you won’t have to water as much.”

    Get a push mower or do what I did – let your lawn grow native plants. I never have to mow and I have all types of native wonders growing around me.

  14. Lauren says

    #21: Or get a motor-less mower. We’re in an apartment now, but in the last house we rented I actually kind of enjoyed cutting the grass with it. Unfortunately it’s not good with very long grass or tall weeds, so you may need to pull weeds or bring out the weed-whacker.
    #33: You can also get ink cartridges refilled, and it costs much less than buying a whole new cartridge.

    • LaDonna Goddard says

      Where can I get my cartridges re-filled. I’ve tried but there is “something” about HP cartriges that don’t allow this…I mean, you can do it, but when you load the cartridge back into the printer…it’s a NO GO. Can you help?