5 Sustainable Living Tips for City Folk

skyline and garden

Being environmentally friendly takes conscious, mindful effort. And when you live in a city, getting in touch with Mother Nature can be tricky. Fortunately, living an eco-friendly life doesn’t mean you need to move out to the countryside (unless you want to, of course). With these sustainable living tips, you can tweak your city lifestyle to honor the environment in the best way. Remember, it takes a few simple changes to make a huge impact.

1. Create Homemade Cleaners

Cleaning is a normal part of life. Instead of splurging on fancy cleaners, make your own right at home. It’s an excellent way to save a pretty penny while treating the environment well.

Because DIY cleaners call for basic household ingredients, they’re significantly cheaper than the store-bought kind. Ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, and water can work wonders. However, take some time to learn about which natural ingredients you shouldn’t mix. This is the best way to ensure that your money and efforts aren’t wasted.

By using homemade cleaners, you’ll be sparing yourself—and the environment—the harsh chemicals found in store-bought versions.

2. Be Mindful of Water Use

Washing dishes is another normal household chore. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most fool-proof ways to waste water. For an easy way to save H2O, turn off the faucet when scrubbing down dishes and utensils. In reality, you don’t need the movement of water to clean an item. Focus on turning on the faucet only when you need it.

soaking dishes in sink

Large metal bowls come in handy for this approach. Consider filling up two containers—one with soapy water and one with plain, clean water. Clean the dishes in the first bowl and rinse them off in the second. Continue doing this until the water is no longer usable; this is the best way to stretch the water to its biggest extent.

Saving water doesn’t have to stop there, though. Water used to boil eggs or pasta can be recycled and used to water plants. If the water is clean, you can even use it to wash some dishes.

3. Unplug Electronic Devices

Contrary to what most may think, an electronic device still uses energy even when it’s switched off. It doesn’t make a difference even if the intended function isn’t in use. As long as it’s plugged in, it’s still eating up electricity from the outlet.

Make it a habit to unplug devices and cords before you leave a room. This can be anything from your coffee maker to your cell phone. Of course, unplugging something like a clock may be less practical. In this case, consider using a solar-powered clock.

4. Save and Recycle Paper

Paper is one of the easiest things to accumulate. Luckily, it’s also possible to opt out of paper mail and choose electronic deliveries of bills and notices. To do this, give the company a call and request paperless delivery. Some organizations, such as banks, will have a paperless option in the account settings on their website.

If you must print out pages, go for double-sided printouts. This can be done by adjusting special settings on your printer or simply feeding paper back through. You can also re-use those one-sided paper statements by printing on the reverse side. Not only will you have less clutter, but also you’ll be doing Mother Nature a favor.

Of course, we can’t forget about recycling. Designate a bin or container in your kitchen for recyclables. Don’t forget to check with your landlord that your building has the appropriate recycling bins. Get to know your city’s trash schedule so you can be sure to empty out your recycling bin in time.

5. Use Re-usable Shopping Bags

In recent years, re-usable shopping bags have become increasingly popular. They’re an awesome, eco-friendly substitute to plastic bags. It doesn’t hurt that there are so many designs and styles out there, too.

The key to successfully using shopping bags is actually remembering to bring them. And when you don’t have a car in a big city, stashing them in your trunk isn’t always an option. Instead, make a spot for your bags by the door. This way, you’ll be more likely to grab one on the way out. Stowing one away in your backpack or purse is also a great option.

reusable grocery bag

Your best bet is to use a bag that can be cleaned. This is especially important if you’re using the bag for fresh fruits and vegetables. While cotton bags can be tossed in the washing machine, polyester and nylon bags can be cleaned with a damp rag. This is the perfect chance to use some of that homemade cleaner.