7 Steps You Can Take Today to Live More Sustainably

Climate anxiety is real. Dire environmental news is everywhere, and it’s easy to think individual actions don’t matter. But they do! Adopting a positive mindset and some new habits can make a big difference. Today’s post has 7 steps you can take today to live more sustainably.

The need for action is urgent. Despite all the awareness of climate change and global warming, worldwide carbon emissions increased in 2022 (Source: Forbes) and scientists fear we may be running out of time. If these headlines make you anxious, experts say one of the best ways to combat climate anxiety is to take action. (Source: Psychology Today)

You may not have the resources to trade in your car for an electric vehicle or to plant a forest. You do have the power to shift your mindset and adopt some new habits. Each of these seven actions is something you can start today. Are you ready?

Shop local

Transporting goods around the world has a big impact. In fact, maritime shipping causes more greenhouse gas emissions than airlines. (Source: Yale Climate Connections)

One of the simplest changes is supporting local businesses and producers when you can. Look for farmers markets, farm stores, and other small businesses selling locally-made goods.

And, if you have the space, consider growing some of your own food. You can’t get more local than your own balcony, back yard, or community garden.

Think before you drink

A travel mug and refillable water bottle are two of the best investments you can make to reduce your impact on the planet. I make my tea at home and avoid bottled water even when travelling.

Buy a reusable water bottle and take it with you every time you go out. When travelling, fill it after you’ve passed through airport security. Similarly, use your own travel mug for your daily fix of caffeine. Many coffee shops will give you a discount if you bring your own mug.

Finally, when ordering a drink in a restaurant, say “No straw, please.” It’s a habit I’ve gotten out of because we have made big progress eliminating plastic straws in Canada. Pretty much every time I order a drink when I travel in the United States, I’m dismayed when it shows up with a plastic straw.

Scrutinize all packaging

Excessive packaging is a big problem, especially for electronics, personal care and food items.

When shopping, scrutinize the packaging on everything you buy. Then, buy products with the least packaging, or items in recycled and recyclable packaging.

Reuse single-use items

Realistically, it’s next to impossible for most of us to avoid all single-use packaging. However, you can commit to reusing as much of it as possible. Here are some ideas:

  • Wash and reuse bags from frozen produce and other frozen foods. They make great freezer bags.
  • Use plastic containers and glass jars for food storage.
  • Clean and reuse plastic cutlery.

Repair instead of replace

We treat many things as disposable—including items like clothing and appliances that should be more durable. When things break down, consider if they can be repaired before jumping to immediately purchase a replacement.

Seeing the impact of this throwaway mentality, the French government has introduced tax credits for clothing repairs and household appliance repairs. (Source: Happy Eco News)

Although you may not qualify for a tax credit, you can extend the life of your clothing by finding a tailor or seamstress to do simple repairs like hems, zippers and buttons. And consider repairing appliances and electronics instead of throwing them away.

Keep electronics for longer

I recently got a new mobile phone and saw firsthand how cellular companies have normalized replacing your phone every two years. They tempt you with a lower monthly payment. Then, when the two-year contract is up, you’re faced with paying a lump sum to keep your existing phone that probably still works just fine. Rather than pay the lump sum, many people will opt to continue that lower monthly payment and get a brand-new device.

Most mobile phone manufacturers support their new models for much longer than two years. I chose a larger monthly payment that will disappear after two years, but then the phone is mine to keep.

Use the same mindset for your laptop, desktop computer, and tablet. Our desktop computer is going on six years old, and it still does the job.

Consider second hand

Thrift stores and online selling sites like Facebook Marketplace are gaining in popularity—for good reason. You can often find quality items at a fraction of the price of a new item. A win for your wallet and the planet.

When you need to buy something, consider if you can get it second hand. If you have items you want to get rid of, try posting them on a buy-and-sell site or your local Buy Nothing group. I have used our local Buy Nothing Facebook group to find new homes for hundreds of items. I love knowing my things are going to someone who can use them.

None of these changes are difficult, but together they can add up. Imagine the impact if everyone on the planet made just these seven changes.

Knowing you’re doing something good will have a positive impact on your mental health. You might even notice a snowball effect—once you start making small changes, you’ll find it easier to identify other things you can do to reduce your impact. It all adds up!

Learn more about me in my bio and on my personal blog at BoomerEcoCrusader.com. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

22 thoughts on “7 Steps You Can Take Today to Live More Sustainably

  1. Great post🙏 Allow me to add a vegan diet or lifestyle, as animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. For those wanting to know more about veganism, I suggest Vegan All In All: Everything You Need to Know About Veganism – the most comprehensive book ever written about veganism. It’s available on Amazon:

    1. There’s no denying that eating animal protein has a huge environmental impact, Susanna. However, that’s a very difficult change for many people to make so I didn’t include it on the list of things you can do today. I wanted to focus the list on easy things that are within everyone’s reach.

      Personally, I have significantly reduced the amount of meat I eat but my husband won’t entertain meatless meals—he’s a true meat and potatoes guy and has no desire to change—so going fully vegetarian or vegan just isn’t practical for our household.

  2. Interesting post Michelle and I do practice some of these things … reusing single use plastic, refilling water bottles, a reusable coffee cup. The things that jumped out at me are that you wouldn’t get a plastic straw for a drink in Scotland- they’re mainly paper. A few years ago at a work event we were given reusable metal straws with a tiny brush to clean it. I’ve also seen, since the bag tax in shops, many retailers converting to paper bags rather than plastic.
    I tend to wear clothes to death, but when I lost a lot of weight about 18 months ago, I dropped off bags and bags of clothes at the local charity shop.

    I haven’t gone vegan, but am conscious of eating/following a more Mediterranean diet which involves a lot less meat.

    We also don’t have a car, so rely on public transport which is getting greener.

    The one thing I do despair at is our Council’s attitude to recycling. Our ‘green bin’ is regularly full to overflowing for weeks on end that we end up using the normal bins, which undermines the whole ethos. I’ve also read that they’re considering the removal of some of the recycling services across the city.

    1. Thanks, Brenda. It sounds like you’ve made great progress! I think we need to pat ourselves on the back for every small change we make. Many people are doing nothing!

      Outside of major cities, our public transit in North America is abysmal. We could learn so much from other countries. I’m headed to the UK this week to visit my sister and I was so amazed at the train service. I’ll be taking close note of other things I see while I’m there. We’re miles ahead in Canada compared to the USA, though. I have been dismayed in restaurants there when I get single-use plastic cutlery in a sit down restaurant. UGH.

      In Ontario, they are standardizing our recycling programs across the province. I’m not convinced it’s a good thing. Our region has an amazing recycling program. In fact, the blue recycling box was invented here years ago! I fear the “improved” provincial program will be a step back.

      1. Where in the UK are you headed? Its turned cold the past few days. I hope your new recycling scheme isn’t a step backwards. Have a safe journey and a good time with your sister

      2. I’m starting out in London, then heading up to Yorkshire and Lancashire, and ending up on the Isle of Wight for the second week. Yes, the weather forecast for the few days after my arrival is very rainy! I had to pack my umbrella.

      3. That sounds like a lovely trip. I’ve never been to the Isle of Wight … but thats where my tomatoes come from lol

      4. I’ve never been there either. My sister moved there when she retired. If I eat any tomatoes while I’m there, I will think of you!

  3. I agree with Susana that animal farming is one of the biggest cause of global warming and eating meat doesn’t mean buying meat from those big farms. You could buy meat from farms that let their animals live a decent life before being slaughtered. It’s also an ethical issue. We discussed about your husband already on your blog, Michelle 🙂 I know that for some people it’s not easy but the problem is there and we shall open our eyes. On Netflix there is an interesting documentary “What the health”. If you have the time, have a look at it. Eating meat not only is bad for the planer but it is also very unhealthy. Useful post Michelle, let’s hope that more and more people will start following your (our) steps.

    1. Thanks, Cristiana. Honestly, if I lived alone, I’d be vegetarian tomorrow. But I’m not so I have to maintain my sanity and keep peace in the family. Preaching at my husband will solve nothing and will just cause conflict that I can do without. He will NEVER stop eating meat, no matter how much evidence I show him. (He does have good qualities. LOL) Cooking 2 different dinners every single day is just not practical (maybe when I’m retired). My compromise is to eat meatless breakfasts and lunches every day, and cook meatless dinners for myself at least a couple of days every week.

  4. Those tips are very useful and for a young person like environnmental anxiety is very high. For us in Africa I Can tell you we do half of what you Said because there is no other options . As a young African i feel very disappointed by the behaviors of wealthy countries because they pollute the most , don’t do enough things to protect the World and we , africans are the most impacted and all they do is holding useless international instead of doing what they know is right . I’m really concerned about the future of our generation if we live in a crippled world

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree that consumption and lack of care for the environment is out of control in wealthy countries. We can learn a lot from other countries, and previous generations that had a much more sustainable way of life. It’s sad.

  5. Great ideas, Michelle. I especially like the one about electronics. It’s such a temptation to give in to the constant upgrade. I recently had my iPhone repaired instead of replaced and that’s a really good (and much cheaper) option!

    1. I agree. Smartphones are so expensive (especially iPhones). I’m hoping to get quite a few years out of my new iPhone.

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