Sustainable Living 101 [Everything You Need to Know]
What is Sustainable Living?
Sometimes called eco-friendly living or living sustainable, this lifestyle is a positive one, no matter what you call it. Sustainable living is a practical and planet-friendly philosophy. It helps us reduce our impact on the environment by making positive changes.
These positive changes help offset or reduce the damage we do to the environment. Human beings, often without realizing it, are responsible for a lot of environmental damage. While it is widely debated, there is plenty of clear evidence supporting this argument.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, human emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the warming observed since 1950. Greenhouse gases, aerosols, and other human impacts are changing our planet.
Living sustainably can help us change that. This is a way to live with the future of our fabulous Mother Earth in mind. It is a way to live a better, bolder, healthier, and more beautiful legacy to our children and grandchildren than the ones left behind by generations past.
Sustainable Living vs. Zero-Waste Living
Zero-waste is another term that we hear a lot. So, what’s the difference between sustainable living and zero-waste living? While these terms are similar and there can be some overlap, they do mean different things.
Living sustainably means lowering our overall environmental impact through various methods. Zero-waste living has a slightly different and more narrowed focus. Living zero-waste means reducing the amount of trash you produce, particularly when it comes to single-use plastics.
Because we focus on plastic-free, sustainable products, and each comes in recyclable or compostable packaging, we can help you do both.
What Can We Do to Practice Sustainable Living?
Practicing sustainable living can mean a lot of different things. Some changes are simple. Some are a bit more complex. We’ll start with the simple ones here. If you’re interested in living sustainably, reading about it is an excellent first step!
The five Rs will tell you where to go next. If you’re not familiar with them already or need a refresher, the five Rs are: refuse, reduce, reuse, rot, and recycle. If some of these sound vaguely familiar to you, there’s a reason for that.
The original three Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) have been around for decades. In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery act. This act was generated to increase recycling and conservation efforts as waste became a bigger problem.
Estimates suggest that the slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle,” was created around the same time. Since then, it has been expanded to include refuse and rot, two more ways to reduce our environmental impact.
The Three Original Rs
Reduce, reuse, and recycle are pretty self-explanatory. Most of us heard them a lot growing up, and now they’re deeply ingrained into our routines. And thankfully, they’re some of the easiest ways to live more sustainably.
Reducing means simply getting by on less. And that can apply to most things. When you brush your teeth, are you leaving the water running? Are the lights on while there’s plenty of natural light shining through your windows?
Reusing lengthens the life of everyday products. This can mean anything from bringing reusable tote bags to the grocery store to buying clothing at the thrift store to give it new life. Our reusable safety razor is an excellent example of the impact we can make in this category.
Two billion single-use plastic razors are thrown away every year. Reusable ones, however, give you a closer shave, won’t end up in a landfill, and save you money over time. Pair it with our organic shaving soap bar and ditch those damaging aerosols.
On top of everyday beauty items like these, we can also reuse things like empty coffee cans, pasta jars, candles, and baby food containers. These items can be wrapped in extra strips of wrapping paper or scrapbook paper to be made more decorative.
You can then use them to store items in your home office, bathroom, or kitchen. Pop all your pens in an empty can, paper clips in a baby food jar, hair ties in an empty candle jar, and use them any other way you can think of. Get creative!
And lastly, we all know what recycling means. Unfortunately, recycling isn’t enough anymore since only about 9% of recyclables marked for recycling actually get recycled. Many plastic products are simply too difficult to recycle, even if they’re marked for it. Learn how long plastic takes to decompose here.
That’s why we also need the other Rs. The key isn’t what to do with all of the plastics in our lives. The key is avoiding further plastic production by not using it.
Refusing is similar to reducing. Rather than reducing things like water and utility use, though, refusing means denying the addition of new things. When you’ve got clothes in your online shopping cart, take a moment to take inventory of your closet instead.
Do you need more yoga pants and sweaters? Or were you simply impulse shopping and you have everything you need already? We think it’s important to note here that we’re not trying to shame anyone into not buying things that they need.
We’re simply reminding our conscious customers that there is a difference between want and need. Try to be more conscious when making purchases and ask yourself if it’s truly necessary. This helps us cut down on things we don’t need, helps the environment, and saves us money.
Applying the refuse rule to things like single-use plastic bags and water bottles is important, too. These items can take up to 500 years to degrade. And with all of the alternatives out there these days, they’re on their way to becoming obsolete anyway.
Rot is a word that has negative connotations. But in the eco-friendly world, rot is a good thing because it means that something is cleanly returning to the earth. This rotting is done through a process called composting.
Composting means taking organic materials and dropping them into the soil. It helps plants grow, reduces the need for fertilizers, enriches the ground it enters, helps suppress plant diseases and pests, and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi.
And we can compost more than you’d think, including food waste and yard scraps. Many of our products are shipped in compostable zero-waste packaging or wrapping.
Other Ways to Live Sustainably
Refusing, reducing, reusing, rotting, and recycling are some of the best ways to build momentum in your eco-friendly journey. We listed some examples in the sections above, but there are plenty of other ways to practice sustainability.
Here are some more examples of eco-friendly living:
- Switch to LED light bulbs, which last approximately 50 times longer than the average incandescent.
- Eat less meat (especially red meat), which lowers greenhouse gas emissions.
- Choose reusable items whenever you can.
- Go paperless in your home office and kitchen by choosing e-documents and dishcloths over printed pages and paper towels.
- Grown your own produce in the garden (or in hanging flower boxes if you’re pressed for space.)
- Donate or give away unused clothing, kitchen, and other items instead of throwing them away.
- Dry your clothes on a clothesline when you can.
- Use eco-friendly laundry detergent and soaps instead of plastic-heavy, chemical-filled jugs of traditional products.
- Do the same with shampoo and conditioner bars.
- Take shorter showers and turn the faucet off while you’re washing the dishes.
- Walk, bike, bus, or carpool to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and for some of these methods, boost your health.
- Freeze or use up leftovers to avoid waste.
- Make your closet more sustainable by swapping with friends or shopping secondhand.
- Buy or make eco-friendly cleaning products to help cut down on chemical pollution. (learn more about the difference between natural loofah vs synthetic plastic sponges here.)
Taking Bigger Steps Toward Eco-Friendly Living
Each of the things that we’ve already listed will help you live a more sustainable lifestyle. Most of them were small and easy steps that can help us make a big impact. But there are bigger things that we can do when we’re ready, too.
Some of the biggest and most significant ways we can move toward eco-friendly living include:
- Installing solar panels. (Find out what the cost of solar panels are in this complete research here).
- Swapping out drafty old windows with energy-efficient panes.
- Replace broken appliances with energy-efficient appliances, including refrigerators, washers and dryers, and dishwashers, among others.
- Install water-saver showerheads and faucets.
But don’t let these bigger items scare you off. There are also plenty of smaller, more affordable steps you can take, free ones, and lots in between.
Does it Cost a Lot to Live More Sustainably?
Eco-friendly living doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Reusable products, even when they cost a bit more upfront, almost always save us money in the long term. And even the bigger steps that we listed above can be broken down into more manageable steps.
For example, if you’re not ready to make the leap to putting solar panels on your roof, start smaller with solar lamps or lanterns. They charge during the day in the sunlight and then throw off enough light to keep the porch lights off, saving energy and money.
Use them to line your front path, driveway, or decorate the backyard. Solar lights come in many different shapes and sizes, so have fun with them! And this is just the start to eco-friendly living on a budget. There are plenty of other ways to make a difference without breaking the bank.
Eco-Friendly Living on a Budget
There’s a common misconception that it’s expensive to live sustainably. This doesn’t have to be true. Many eco-friendly living hacks cost little to no more than their traditional alternatives, and some are even completely free.
Here are some of our favorite ways to practice eco-friendly living on a budget:
- Grab a blanket instead of turning the thermostat up again (The Department of Energy recommends leaving the thermostat set to 68 degrees when you’re awake and at home.)
- Start a compost pile by putting items like grass clippings, leaves, paper shreds, wilted produce, and coffee grounds in a container.
- Wash your clothes in cold water instead of warm or hot.
- Grab LED light bulbs from the dollar store (yes, the dollar store!)
- Bring reusable tote bags every time you go shopping.
Many of the items we listed in this section and the sections above are incredibly budget-friendly. Some even save you money, like cutting back on meat, walking or biking to work, reducing your water consumption, and buying clothes secondhand.
Low-Waste and Reusable Alternatives That Are Affordable and Fun
So far, we’ve focused mostly on lifestyle changes and the importance of the four Rs. Next, we want to talk about some swaps you can make for a more sustainable home. Our bath and beauty and home and kitchen collections offer everything you need to build a better lifestyle.
Some of our customers’ favorites in bath and beauty include our:
- Wooden hairbrush.
- Soap saver bag.
- Set of 10 organic reusable cotton rounds.
- Bamboo soap dish.
- Shea rose clay facial soap.
- Organic body soap.
- Zero-waste deodorant.
- Shampoo and conditioner bars.
- Cactus flower exfoliant.
- Natural loofah.
- Zero-waste lip balm.
- Blush stick.
- Lotion bar.
These are some favorites in these categories, but we offer much more!
Sustainable Home and Kitchen Favorites
We love our eco-friendly bath and body products, and we’re just as proud of our home and kitchen favorites, too. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Organic cotton reusable produce bag (set of nine.)
- Reusable bamboo cutlery (set of five.)
- Wooden dish brush.
- Zero-waste laundry detergent.
- Dish scrubber.
- Vegan reusable food wrap.
- Reusable coffee filters.
- Cruelty-free candles.
- Zero-waste dish soap.
- Stainless-steel straws.
- Stainless-steel tumblers.
To make it easier to make the switch, we also offer a few eco-friendly kits that conveniently put everything you need together in one place, and they do it at a discount.
Convenient Eco-Friendly Kits
Our eco-friendly kits are a steal for a few reasons. They make it easy to get everything you need at once, you get a discount for buying them as a bundle, and they make adorable ethical gifts! We’ve heard from many of our customers that they like to buy one for themselves and one as a gift.
Whether it’s a birthday, graduation, or holiday gifts, each of these kits would make excellent gift sets for friends, loved ones, and even office gift swaps. We offer three kits and one bundle:
- Zero-waste shaving kit for women
- Zero-waste cleaning kit
- Zero-waste dental kit
- Buy more, save more shampoo and conditioner bar bundle
Sustainable Showers with Our Zero-Waste Shaving Kit
Our zero-waste shaving kit is an unbelievable steal and an unbeatable care package. But we don’t expect you to just take it from us, which is why we chose to use a review from one of our happy, planet-conscious customers to open this section with!
Available in a rose gold finish or matte black, our reusable safety razor is the star of the show here. It’s designed for women but is great for anyone, especially those who have sensitive skin. This waste-free kit includes:
- One safety razor (you choose the color.)
- One organic shaving soap.
- 15 high-quality stainless-steel replacement blades (five in the razor package and an additional box of 10.)
The single blade and comfortable handle will give you a comfortable, close, and sustainable shave every time you use this gorgeous safety razor. The organic shaving soap, enriched with shea and cocoa butters and smelling of citrus, is a foamy eco-friendly treat.
In addition to ensuring that your skin stays silky and smooth, this kit will save you money and reduce your waste. Ditch those disposables, say goodbye to itchy skin and pesky bumps, and help us do better for the planet and ourselves.
This is living more sustainably made easy, and packaged in plastic-free, zero-waste, recyclable packaging. Checkout this article for the best shaving products!
While it isn’t as visually appealing as a rose gold safety razor, our zero-waste cleaning kit is a practical, planet-friendly purchase that we could all use. Traditional cleaning products are infested with chemicals, plastics, and other unwanted components and ingredients.
That’s why we put together all of our must-have, plastic-free cleaning products in one handy kit. Purchasing these products as a bundle saves you 10%. And as a basic starter kit for someone looking to build a more sustainable lifestyle, it’s a great place to start.
Our zero-waste cleaning kit includes:
- One zero-waste dish soap.
- One bamboo soap dish.
- One wooden cleaning brush with a detachable head.
Each of these cleaning products is made with sustainable materials, including bamboo soap dish and sisal soap saver bag, as well as organic and vegan ingredients. They’re biodegradable, zero-waste, and plastic-free.
Sustainable Dental Routines
Traditional dental and other bathroom products are some of the worst for the environment. Did you know that US landfills see approximately one billion plastic toothbrushes and 1.5 billion plastic toothpaste tubes every year?
We’re here to help change that with our zero-waste dental kit. This convenient kit will help you take care of your oral hygiene without the use of any harmful ingredients or wasteful plastics. Each one comes with:
- One set of four bamboo toothbrushes.
- One vegan peppermint and charcoal toothpaste or one plain peppermint toothpaste.
- One spool of vegan, zero-waste bamboo floss.
- One metal key to help you squeeze out the extra bits of toothpaste that stick around at the end of the tube.
All of these incredible products (zero-waste floss and bamboo toothbrush etc) are sustainably sourced, long-lasting, and recyclable or compostable when the time comes.
Sustainable Shampoo and Conditioner Bars
This is more of a pick-your-own bundle than a straightforward kit. The way it works is that you go through all of the scents that we offer, mix them up, or match them to each other, and choose at least three.
Choosing three items applies a 5% discount; choosing four items applies a 10% discount; choosing five applies a 15% discount; choosing six applies a 20% discount. See – the more you buy, the more you save!
Our shampoo and conditioner bars are plastic-free, cruelty-free, and silicone and paraben-free. Everyone loves them. They’re loved by all hair types, including color-treated and curly hair.
Choose from the following incredible scents for your next shampoo & conditioner bars:
- Citrus fresh.
- CocoLime colada.
- Forest mist (soft enough to be a feminine fragrance and woodsy enough to be used by men, too.)
- Fresh mint.
- Honeydew melon.
- Moroccan oil (another recommendation for unisex use.)
- Summer breeze.
- Lilac Flowers
With our incredible shampoo and conditioner bundle, there are better hair days ahead than any we’ve had in the past!
Like one of those never-ending infomercials that no one ever watches anymore, we have to say it. Are you ready?
Here it is: but wait, there’s more! One of the best things about the eco-friendly movement is that there are countless ways to live more sustainably.
We’ve talked about light bulbs and tote bags, natural loofah and scrub brushes, reducing, reusing, recycling, upcycle vs recycle and more. But there’s one last thing we want to talk about before we wrap things up, and that’s DIY.
For years, the eco-friendly community has been whipping up sustainable goodies in their homes. From laundry detergent to zero waste toothpaste, shampoo bar to vegan candles, and so many things in between, there are plenty of ways to have a fun and planet-friendly DIY night or day.
Here are the links to some of the more popular DIY eco-friendly products that we’ve seen:
- DIY eco-friendly candles
- DIY eco-friendly shampoo
- DIY eco-friendly laundry detergent
- DIY zero-waste deodorant
The Benefits of Do-It-Yourself Sustainable Products
Who do you know that doesn’t have at least a candle or two in their home? We’re pretty confident that the answer is no one. Unfortunately, traditional candles can emit toxins. And many come in plastic packaging.
Instead, eco-friendly candles use happy, healthy ingredients, like soybean oil, a renewable and biodegradable resource. Plus, when you order them from a company like ours or make them right at home, you don’t have to worry about the packaging, either.
The same goes for traditional shampoos and conditioners. They’re often full of harmful chemicals that dry out our hair and irritate our skin. And the plastic bottles they come in end up in landfills and waterways.
The link above will help you create products for happy, healthy hair every time. And one of the best things about these recipes is that there is room to tweak them. Go with the basic recipe for a clean, unscented finish, or add essential oils to find a scent you like. Add almond oil for extra conditioning or coconut milk to restore dry or damaged hair.
DIY, eco-friendly laundry detergent is a great way to get your clothes clean and smelling fresh without the addition of chemicals and heavy plastic jugs. With ingredients like baking soda, unscented castile soap, and essential oils, you can make a detergent you feel good about.
These are just a few of the many options out there for incredible, sustainable, DIY products. You can also DIY eco-friendly cleaning supplies, natural disinfectants, beauty products, toothpaste, body lotions, and so much more.
The Power of EcoRoots
Sustainable living starts here. In addition to providing incredible, sustainable, and zero-waste products, we pride ourselves on informing our customers. We provide the information and tips you need to build a better lifestyle. A lifestyle that’s better for the planet and better for you.
Eco-friendly living means different things for different people. We don’t expect you to change everything about your lifestyle, or all of the products you use, in one day. Small, incremental changes can add up and make big impacts.
With any eco-friendly product or ethical gifts we offer can make a positive change. We hope we’ve inspired you to get started. Now, it’s time to grab a friend and start your DIY adventure, or visit our website to find all of the home and kitchen and bath and beauty products you need!
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