20 Lazy Ways to Live Sustainably

Updated: May 18, 2020

I get it, plastic is convenient.

It is so much easier to buy apple slices pre-packaged than "naked" apples and cut them yourself. It's easier to just cave in and use plastic bags then bother to carry your own bags in.

And not to forget just buying a case of bottles instead of buying a reusable one and a filter and manually filling them up.

I've been there.

Before I dive into tips, you need to realize why you want to live with less waste first. You need to find your own motivation to push you to use and buy less. Whether that's because you simply want to save money or it's because you want to do your best to preserve this earth for your siblings, children, pets, or what have you. You need to have a motive for change.

I am writing this post because I got some inspiration from Instagram: people do love the earth and want to change, they are just simply lazy.

And that's okay! I get it!

Like I said, plastic is incredibly convenient. But, I am here to prove that you can still ditch *most* plastic and reduce your emissions all while being lazy.

Let's dive right in! (I have this older video of tips here and a new video here if you'd rather watch a video!)

1. Turn off your lights:

This is probably the simplest tip I came up with. All you have to do is open your blinds or curtains during the daylight hours and allow sunlight to light your home or dorm. I am lucky to have plenty of windows, so much so that we don't have to turn on any lights in our house until the sunsets, and even then, we use them minimally,

Don't forget to turn off your lights when you leave the room also! You don't need to leave the lights on in the kitchen if you might go back in there in a few hours, turn 'em off!

Why is this sustainable?

In order to get electricity to your house, it is more than likely coming from a power plant that gets their power from the burning of coal. Turning off your lights can save on the amount of coal being burned. This stretches the value of the natural (but not-that-renewable) resources.

2. Turn off your water:

The same goes for water. If you don't need it, don't use it. When you're brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or shaving don't let the water run while you're not actively using it. You can even plug the kitchen sink, let a little water it, and use that water to wash your dishes. Additionally, take a quicker shower as opposed to a bath to save an average of 45-60 gallons.

Why is this sustainable?

It takes energy to move water to your house as well as to heat and cool it. Also, fresh water is a limited resource. It is used to drinking, cooking, farming, bathing, and more. It is important to preserve fresh water as much as possible and not just let it (literally) fall down the drain.

3. Open your windows:

Just light with your lights, there are certain times throughout the year where the weather is perfect and all you need to live comfortably in your home is fresh air! It's not too hot or too cold, just right. Just open your windows (leave screens closed to keep the bugs out!) and enjoy the fresh air while that season lasts before winter or summer come.

Why is this sustainable?

Just like the above tips, it takes energy, often in the form of coal, to heat and cool your home. The more you use fresh air and don't have your AC or heat blasting, the less coal that needs to be burned for your home and the more that can be saved for the heart of winter or summer.

4. Change your diet:

You don't have to go vegan or vegetarian, but you could try "meatless Monday's" or "vegan-uary." Maybe the next time you eat out, try the vegetarian or vegan option. Or, if you really aren't in to experimenting, try buying organic, whole foods versus packaged and processed foods. Packing comes from raw materials that could be saved and turned into something else. The whole processes and packaging of ingredients takes a lot of time and energy that can be saved if you switched.

Why is this sustainable?

Meat and dairy production contributes to 60% of the agriculture industry's greenhouse gases. Not only this, but so much land and fresh water (that I mentioned earlier) is used to house and feed animals that we in turn eat. When instead, this land and water can be used to feed us directly. Not to mention, it is so much healthier for your body.

5. Switch brands/companies:

Small switches like:

- Switching your toilet paper from a brand that uses virgin trees to a brand that uses recycled paper

- Changing your internet provider to one that promotes sustainability with things like recycling and sourcing materials

- Change your electric company to one that uses renewable resources like solar, wind, or geothermal

- Buy clothing from brands that use natural fibers versus polyester

- Poop bags made out of plants versus plastic (oil)

The list could go on!

Why is this sustainable?

This one seems a bit more obvious than others, but this promotes voting with your dollar. Your money will now be supporting companies that have greener visions and are doing good in the world and you will no longer be creating a demand for unsustainable companies.

6. Buy used before buying new:

There are many resources and places you can check before you head straight to the mall. Check your local thrift store, Facebook market place, other sites that sell second-hand items, or even with friends, families, or neighbors. You never know what someone might not need any more. There is no point in buying something brand new when there is already an object created for you without using new materials. This might take a little more effort, but you might actually get to be lazier if the item can be shipped to your house versus driving to the mall.

Why is this sustainable?

This goes back to voting with your dollar. This will no longer be supporting unsustainable business, but rather supporting small businesses and people directly. This will also not create a demand for more products and resources. Instead, you will not be contributing to the waste cycle and you will get to use a product that has already been created. You never know what you might find while thrifting!

7. Buy in different materials:

Avoid plastic when shopping! Instead of buying a bag of noodles, buy a box. Instead of buying those packaged oranges, buy them "naked" and use your own bag. The list could go on.

Why is this sustainable?

If you do not know about the harmful effects of plastic on your body or the earth, maybe you should consult some other resources. But, the gist is that plastic never fully bio-degrades and stays on the earth forever. Micro-plastics are released into our water ways and end up in the water we drink. Also, plastic can only be recycled once or twice, so recycling is not even a viable option for this unsustainable material. For more info, you can watch my video here.

8. Chang the temp in your home or dorm:

It doesn't take much, so don't think I'm going to be forcing you to sweat or freeze. I, like you, like to live comfortably. I also have learned to sacrifice a degree or two. In the summer, turn your thermostat up 1-2 degrees (whatever you can tolerate) and in the winter, turn it down 1-2 degrees. For example, say you keep your house on 67 degrees F in the summer. Instead, turn it up to 68-69 degrees. This will still keep you very cool without having to use as much energy to cool your entire house. The same goes for winter of course! And during spring and fall when it is nice outside, resort back to tip #3! Go all out and turn your unit off when no one is home!

Why is this sustainable?

The closer your home is to the outside temperature, the less energy that has to be used to heat or cool your home. Just like with electricity, it takes some form of energy, often in the form of coal burning, to keep your home the temperature you prefer. If you can sacrifice one degree up in the summer and one degree down in the winter, this can actually save about 300kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

9. Carpool:

This can even help you become more lazy! If you live near people you go to school or work with, offer up a carpooling schedule. You can all take turns driving to and from once or twice a week, and on the days you don't have to drive, you get to be lazier than normal. Not to mention, you'll get to save some gas money as well.

Why is this sustainable?

Eliminating cars off the roads helps eliminate fossil fuels being used and pumped into the atmosphere. The less gas being burnt, the less emissions that enter our atmosphere. This gas can then be used to power other things or get "more bang for it's buck." You will also notice yourself spending a lot less money on gas which is a win win.

10/11. Reuse disposables and use what you have:

You don't have to spend time and money hunting for the perfect reusable water bottle, cutlery, bags, or other products. You can use what you already have. You can also just reuse disposable items to maximize their life as well as save you time in the grocery store.

- If you already have extra silverware, pop those in your bag and you have a reusable set to go.

- Before heading to dinner, bring a container you already have

- Refill single use water bottles

- Reuse zip-lock bags that aren't too dirty

- Use grocery bags as trash bags

- Only buy new items when you need them

- And more!

The bottom line? Use what you have before buying new and reuse disposable items to maximize their life.

What is this sustainable?

You won't be wasting as much material. This also contributes to a smaller demand for those items and the decrease in new items that need to be made.

12. Recycle:

This might take a bit of effort, but all you really have to do is contact your garbage company and ask for a recycling bin. Then, all you have to do is find out what is recyclable with your company and sort your trash from your recyclables. The extra effort is sorting and also now having to put two bins on your curb versus trash cans.

Why is this sustainable?

This one seems pretty obvious, but despite the imperfect recycling system, this will save a lot of material from going into the landfill. And, even though recycling should be your last option, recycling does save a lot of raw materials being created and used.

13. Cancel Subscriptions/Ditch the Receipts:

You probably get a lot of random bits of paper in the mail and bank statements. But, thankfully we are now in a digital age where you can live easily without using paper:

- cancel magazine subscriptions, especially if you don't use them

- switch to online bank statements versus paper ones

- if you don't read the paper, contact your city and ask them to stop delivering it to you

- don't take random hand outs at the store, church, etc if you don't use them

- get your news online

- try eBooks

- don't get a receipt if you don't need one and if you need one, ask for an emailed copy

Why is this sustainable?

The less paper that is consumed, the less trees that have to be chopped now and the less paper that has to be created. Don't buy or subscribe to magazine that you will only read for a few moments before throwing out.

14. Unsubscribe from unsustainable brands and companies:

I was inspired by my friend, Despina, with this one. You will be tempted with sales from these companies that often bombard you with emails. So, simply unsubscribe. This will save you money as well as valuable resources and also micro-plastics (that are often used by fast-fashion giants) from entering our earth and waterways. Instead, spend your time and money shopping from sustainable brands, like I mentioned above.

Why is this sustainable?

The less you buy, the less amount of resourc