I get a few questions about how to live low waste as a teen, so I thought I’d make a whole video on it to help everyone! Good news, most of these actions can be implemented by people of all ages and I already have a lot of other resources on my channel and website to help you live more sustainably. These tips are also great for anyone living with a housemate, roommate, and so forth who might not be living sustainably.
First, when you’re young, it can be hard to convince your parents to make any changes. But, most of these sustainable living choices don’t require money or time from your parents.
This post is in collaboration with my good friend Charlotte from Our Future is Mars. Her insight on this topic is going to be extremely valuable as she is still a teen living at home! So, be sure to check out her video on this topic as well.
If your town has a recycling program, ask them for a bin so you and your family can start recycling. And, don’t forget to learn about the do’s and don’ts of recycling, how to properly recycle each item, and what cannot go in these bins.
Start a club at school. It can be a club where you work to help the school recycle or teach each other about eco issues and tips. It can be any earth-friendly, earth-related club you’d like to start!
Take a walk around your neighborhood and clean up any litter you see. This is a great activity for all ages. Just take a bag with you and collect as you go. It can even be a family affair.
Start using less water. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, wash dishes, shave, and so forth. This is a super easy tip you can implement without having to ask permission or buy any supplies and you can even help your family learn about water conservation, too.
Also with water, take shorter showers and fewer baths. Baths use a lot more water than showers do, so take less of them (you don’t have to omit them altogether). And, when you shower, get in there, do your business, and get out. Try to shorten each shower by 30-60 seconds until you think you’re going as fast as you can while still getting clean.
Start saving electricity, too! Once your parent(s)/guardian(s) know how much electricity (and water) you can save and how much money they will save on their electricity bills, they’ll be on board to do this tip with you. You can start by turning off lights when you leave a room, turning off outdoor lights when not in use, and unplugging devices like the toaster, phone charger, microwave, and so forth to stop them from using vampire power.
Don’t wash your clothes as much. It might sound weird, but when you wear a jacket or a shirt for just a few hours (and you don’t do anything to get dirty or stinky), don’t wash that item. Just because it was on your body doesn’t mean it’s dirty. This saves the quality of your clothing and water usage AND detergent usage.
Write letters to brands and your congressmen. Let them know what changes you’d like to see implemented whether that be a brand opting for less plastic or your congressmen making green energy more accessible. Whatever you’re passionate about, write to them about it.
Watch documentaries and read books to learn more about your areas of interest. That could be veganism or climate change or species extinction. Whatever you want to learn about, learn about it, and then teach your families or roommates. It might help sway them to live more eco-conscious with you.
Switch your browser to Ecosia. This is a free internet search engine that you can download on your phone, laptop, or even family computer. The best part about Ecosia is it works just as great as Google, but they plant one tree per search! Simply surfing the internet could help sequester carbon.
Upcycle! There are so many free and easy ways to upcycle almost anything. I’ve upcycled cans into a cat tree, T-shirts into a rug, cans into plants, old fabric into makeup wipes. Get creative before throwing something into the trash can. ]
Get a library card. This will prevent you from buying brand new books (saving money and trees) and library cards are completely free. Then, you can rent movies and books to educate yourself on topics you’re interested in.
Sign petitions. I’m sure you’ve seen someone’s Instagram story featuring a petition of some sort for something like Black Lives Matter, clean water, or saving whales. Don’t ignore those! It takes only a few seconds and no money to sign petitions when you see them for important issues like these.
Turn your phone to low power mode each day so if you accidentally leave the screen on, it will turn off after a few seconds. This will help your phone battery last longer meaning your phone itself will last longer. As well as, turn on battery optimization. What this is, is your phone will analyze when you plug it in each night and when you unplug it each morning. This way, it charges to 100% at the perfect time. If your device hits 100% and you leave it plugged in anyway for hours, it can actually harm your battery. So, save your electronics with these tips.
Try to get your family to do meatless Mondays or just one vegan meal a week. Per meatless meal, you can potentially save up to 133 gallons of water, 24 square feet of land, and reduce your carbon footprint by 8 lbs a day! You can certainly convince them to do this since legumes and beans are typically cheaper than ground meat or steaks. Plus, if you offer to cook for the family, they’ll certainly be on board. Make it a family affair and learn to cook new foods together.
Go to the grocery with your parents or roommate and try to help them reduce their plastic consumption. Now, you don’t have to head straight to the bulk store unless you’re feeling really advanced. Instead, just try to opt for packageless, cardboard, or metal. Glass isn’t that great either, but it’s better than plastic. Also,+ opt for bulk/bigger items like an entire tub of oats versus the small packets.
If you have multiple drivers in the family, try to carpool as much as you can instead of taking multiple vehicles. I know there were several times in my life where 2 or 3 or 4 of us would drive to an event separately instead of carpooling. This reduces your family’s fuel consumption which saves a lot of money and, of course, emissions.
Do a family trash audit. A trash audit is when you keep all your trash for a week or a month and then you can analyze your waste (don’t keep food waste). You can see what you can omit, what you can replace with another material besides plastic, what can you buy package free, or what you can reduce as a household.
Learn a new skill like sewing to help you mend your family’s items. I learned to sew from YouTube and you don’t even need that many supplies, just a needle and thread. Then, you’ll be able to mend clothing! You can also get some superglue to fix things like mugs.
Think before you buy. If you have an allowance or you’re parents are buying you new school supplies and clothes. Think about the purchases first. Do I really need a new notebook for school this year or does my one from last year still have paper in it? Do I really need this new outfit or can I wear what I already have or ask to go to the thrift store instead? Using what you have or what has already been created saves so many resources and energy and emissions.
That is all I have for today. Thank you so much for reading along! Don't forget to check out Charlotte's video, here.
Thank you for your time, I hope this was valuable! Let me know if you'd like to see a part 2! I have so many more tips that can be useful for teens.
As always, until next time, your small changes make a big impact in the long run :)