4 DIY Ways to Live More Sustainably

An herb garden in colorful pots in front of a window.

Sustainable living is a lifestyle choice that involves attempting to use less of the Earth’s natural resources. Individuals who practice sustainable living also attempt to reduce their carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide, and other carbon compounds, emitted into the atmosphere due to your activities. Too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is one of leading causes of global warming. However, we can change that. There are numerous ways, big and small, to live a more sustainable life. Following are four DIY ways to live more sustainably.

1. Grow Your Own Herbs and Vegetables

Growing your own herbs and vegetables is a great way to live more sustainably. You reduce packaging waste and a trip to the grocery store, while also providing your family with healthy produce. You can grow many herbs and smaller vegetable plants in a sunny window. All you need is an appropriate size pot, gardening soil, and seeds or a baby plant.

Some herbs and vegetables to consider:

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions
  • Mesclun
  • Cherry Tomatoes

You may also want to consider an outdoor herb and vegetable garden for more produce. The great thing about gardening is that you can make your garden as small or as large as you like, and gardening is great exercise. Consider gardening in large pots or buckets for a small garden. For larger gardens, fenced-in raised beds are a great option.

Additional herbs and vegetables to consider:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Larger tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini and summer squash

2. Recycle

A recycling bin.

Recycling is one of the easiest ways to impact your carbon footprint in a positive way. The less you consume, the better for your wallet and the environment. And there are literally hundreds of ways to recycle. If your town or waste management company offers a recycling program, take advantage of it. You can eliminate almost all of your trash by recycling most plastics, paper and cardboard, glass, cans, and metal.

Following are some other recycling ideas:

  • Reuse plastic and paper grocery bags, or purchase reusable cloth bags and bring them every time you shop.
  • Purchase used clothing, toys, and furniture from second hand shops. Then, pass on those items or sell them when you no longer need them.
  • Reuse wrapping paper and gift bags, and consider alternative ways to wrap gifts in general. You can decorate an old cardboard shipping box or use newspaper in place of wrapping paper.
  • You can also recycle water. Consider installing rain barrels beneath your gutter downspouts. Then, use this water for your lawn, garden, or to wash your car.

3. Transportation

Transportation is one of the largest sources of global warming emissions in the United States, and passenger cars are a huge contributor. While many of us need vehicles to get around, there are numerous ways to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to transportation.

Alternative ways to get around town:

  • Consider public transportation such as buses and trains.
  • Carpool when possible.
  • Do all of your errands in one day/trip.
  • Walk or ride a bike to close destinations.
  • Purchase a more environmentally friendly car.

These four DIY ways to live more sustainably are just a small example of what you can do to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. However, there are numerous other ways to contribute. If you start implementing some of the above, you’ll discover how easy it is to make simple changes and will find yourself well on your way to living a more sustainable life.

4. Compost

A countertop compost bin.

You can get rid of the majority of your kitchen scraps by composting. Compost is organic matter made from decomposed plant material. You can purchase a countertop composter, a larger outdoor bin, or you can make your own. Once your compost is ready, you can use it as a fertilizer for house plants or in your yard and garden.

The following items can be safely composted:

  • Vegetable peels and scraps
  • Fruit peels and scraps
  • Tea bags and leaves
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Houseplant trimmings
  • Dead flower arrangements
  • Paper napkins
  • Newspaper
  • Wood ash
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves