Nowadays, consumerism leads to a lot of waste. Products you use every day can be hard to clean or don’t last. These 8 sustainable living ideas will change all that!
Growing up on a farm means that I was introduced to sustainability at a young age. You can’t have good farmland for decades on end if you don’t sustain and take care of it! You have to constantly keep track of what you farm on the land each year, what you put into it, and what you need to continue to do to keep the land working for you. However, once I moved to college and became a Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences major, sustainable living became about more than just taking care of the land we farm.
Everywhere we look, there are new products we can buy to make our lives easier, but do they really do that? I’m the kind of person who likes to see what the deal is with this new trend, or that new item, and see what it’s all about. Sometimes, things are great. And other times, well, you end up wasting money. Plastic bags, one time use items, and Styrofoam are prime examples of that! My goal is to create a sustainable house for myself (well, when I have an actual home), but for now, being conscious of what I buy is mostly all I can do in my apartment. So, I’m going to share with you some sustainable products I have found to be completely awesome, green, and that have actually saved me money in the long run!
Stainless Steel Tumblers: Okay, this is actually a new thing for me. I wasn’t really into the whole trend with the Yeti or RTIC cups and how epic and wonderful they were. I honestly thought they were one of those trends that people get all intense about. Well, I was wrong. These things are amazing and probably one of my favorite eco-friendly products. Also, you can get these things refilled at places like Starbucks. Surprisingly, there are a ton of stores and places that will let you bring in your own reusable cup, mason jar, or tumbler. How cool is that? Super cool, that’s what. Then, I don’t have to deal with plastic or Styrofoam cups, which is awesome! Before I was gifted my lovely RTIC tumbler, though, I used (okay, still use) reusable water bottles, which leads us to my next awesome item.
Via SC Johnson
Reusable Water Bottles: Trust me; you’re going to want some sort of reusable water bottle, whether it’s made from plastic, glass, or stainless steel. Having water on you at all times is great, because then you never have to go thirsty, and you don’t have to constantly be buying flimsy plastic water bottles that you end up tossing after one or two uses. The purpose of this post was not to get all hippy/tree hugger/green on you guys, but in all reality, plastic water bottles are not cool. If you want information on that, I will let you see for yourself here, but if you take my word for it, let’s continue.
Honestly, the best thing I did in college was buy a reusable water bottle. I could refill it throughout the day, and didn’t have to worry about having cash to buy a bottled water from the vending machines (and then deal with the plastic bottle). There are tons out there in many different shapes, designs, styles, and even very eco-friendly ones. You can find them in glass, stainless steel, and BPA free plastic that’s recyclable. You can even get some in the shapes of Starbucks iced drink cups, and use them instead of the cheap plastic ones they give you. Neat, right? Find one you like and grab it!
Added Green Tips: if your water at home is not tasty, try out a water filter either on your faucet (like those Brita ones) or even buying a water bottle with a built in filter!
Reusable Coffee Cups: This was probably the second best thing I did in college. As a frequent on-the-go coffee drinker, this was a must. Plus, you can use them at most coffee shops now instead of their paper or plastic cups for your hot coffee, and it’ll save you a bit of cash too! Many places are starting to give you a discount, sometimes like 5-10%, if you bring in your own cup. If you are a coffee addict, and have to have your fix, take in a reusable cup. It’ll pay for itself in the long run! Plus, you can use it for your own awesome brews you make at home. You can find cups that are made from glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and even BPA free recyclable plastic. Check them out, see what you like, and spend the few extra bucks to get one you like and that will last. Maybe you’ll even catch a sale on them, so you can be on the way to living sustainably!
Mason Jars: If I hadn’t grown up using mason jars for canning, I think I would still adore these jars. Mason jars are so useful for green living; I don’t even know where to start. Okay, I do. I use mine to bring my smoothies to work (like the one I am sipping as I type this with one hand - be impressed) and I also store a lot of my snacks and food in them. I buy a lot of bulk items, and they just look so nice in these jars. Plus, they’re airtight, and I can see if anything starts to get all gross inside. I sometimes pack salads or fruit in them when I’m going to class, too, because they are perfect for that. Also, they are hard to break. I’ve seen people use them for storing green products like homemade soaps, homemade yogurt or milks, Q-tips, eco-friendly cleaning products, and countless other items. Mason jars are literally so useful you can do anything with them. Including canning, which is kind of what they are meant for. But hey, I love eco products that have multiple uses!
Stainless Steel Straws: Reusable straws in general are awesome. I drink a lot of smoothies, boba tea, and iced teas and coffees, so I have had plastic reusable straws for a while. One thing I noticed is that they got really gross really fast, and they didn’t always smell clean. Even if I knew they were clean, I didn’t trust it. Then, I found these puppies. Stainless steel straws. OMG, guys, these are so cool, and probably one of the easiest go green ideas on here!
I have them in two sizes, regular bent like these, and a .5” thick straight set for my boba and thicker smoothies, and I absolutely love them. I honestly wish I had bought them sooner. You can get them pretty cheap, not much more than the cost of plastic ones, and they last forever if you take care of them. They also come with a cute little brush to clean them out. It’s adorable. Seriously you have to see it. I feel my drinks even taste better through these since they stay super cold because of the steel. You should definitely try these out for yourself if you want to go green.
Reusable Grocery Bags: Many cities already have a ban on plastic bags, and you have to pay extra to buy a paper bag if you didn’t bring your own reusable bag. Plastic bags are not recyclable, and they are really just not good. You can look at some information here, but again, if you take my word for it, read on! Frankly I find them annoying. I do have a pile that I use for liners in my little trashcans, but that’s about the extent of their usefulness to me.
Reusable bags are so much nicer, and make living green a breeze. You can find them for really cheap almost anywhere (I have a set of Avengers ones I got at Target for like $1 apiece - score!) and you can use them again and again. Plus, I have found out that using reusable bags to move your DVDs and books will save your life. Trust me on that. Reusable bags are awesome for eco-friendly living. You can even make your own out of old T-shirts! You can find large ones, small ones, ones that fold up into a fish shape. They are literally everywhere. And, they’re another item that is so useful. I also use mine to store knit and crochet projects in to keep all the yarn together. So, again, super useful. Go get you some and see for yourself!
Via Design Mom
I just had to show you these because aren’t these just cute? They fold up so small. Perfect for people who are always on-the-go or don’t have a lot of space! I told you they come in all shapes and sizes!
Via Top Lunch Box
Reusable Lunch Containers: Oh, it is a dream of mine to one day own some of these stainless steel lunch boxes. But, alas, I am a poor college student. My plastic Tupperware containers will have to do, and you know what? They are perfectly fine! I use less plastic baggies because I pack my lunches in Tupperware and the occasional mason jar. That’s still pretty green, folks. I’m telling you this because even though there are better ways to live green, it’s also all about what you can do in your home. I cannot afford to drop $30-40 on just one stainless steel bento box, but I can keep using my plastic Tupperware (which is conveniently recyclable, by the way!) to pack my lunches, store my leftovers, and house my frozen fruits until they can no longer be used. The key is less wasted, one time use products, and some of my Tupperware has lasted me years. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about going green. It’s easier than you think, and you don’t need anything super fancy. One of the best green ideas is to use what you already own.
Recycling Bins: I have this exact set of recycling bins, and I love them. I got them at IKEA (best place ever) and they stack beautifully. They’re easy to reach into, and are just wonderful. I wish I had the artistic talent to draw these cute little sketches on mine like these have! How precious.
My apartment complex recently started taking recycling, which made me happy. It is so easy to recycle if you have a good set up, and it’s a great way to go green at home. Plus, you end up taking out less trash, and you have a green home, so win-win, right? Check within your complex or city to see how recycling is done there. If they have it, get you a nice set up and keep it by your trash bin. I have a sheet that lists what can go in each of my recycling bins, so every time I go to my trashcan, I see the sheet. If what I have can go in recycling, I put it in the proper bin. When the bin is full, I bag it up in recycling bags according to my apartment recycling guidelines. Ta-da! It can literally be that easy. And like I said, you actually will end up taking trash to the dumpster less, and you’ll really like that. I know I do!
I hope these eco-friendly ideas inspire you to go greener in your own home! It can be a lot easier than you think! Which idea is your favorite? Do you have any sustainable practices you already use in your home? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this with your family and friends! Until next time, stay green, my friends!
**Featured image via ONYA