Reducing your ecological footprint is a great way to show that you care about the environment. It's now, more than ever, crucial to adopt a sustainable lifestyle that protects people, animals, and the planet.
We are on the verge of a global social and environmental crisis. Overproduction and overconsumption lead to enormous amounts of waste, pollution, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Thankfully, you have the power to drive meaningful change with a few simple adjustments to your everyday habits. You can adopt sustainability practices that make a difference on a global scale.
Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce your ecological footprint to preserve the Earth for future generations.
1. Only buy what you need
Buy less and only what you need to increase your budget as well as do good to the planet. If you make a conscious effort to shop for what is necessary, you will create less waste and pollution.
Adopt a more mindful approach to shopping and move away from excessive consumption.
2. Purchase second-hand items
Buying second-hand is becoming cool again. It's a great way to find deals, save money, and limit waste. The second-hand industry is rapidly growing for many good reasons.
Finding exclusive items while browsing resale sites or thrift shops is super fun. Buy second-hand goods to promote a more sustainable way of living.
3. Trade with people in your area
It's a fun activity to trade and share your unwanted items with your friends, family, and people in your area. Instead of throwing it away, why not organize a swapping event at your house over the weekend?
You can also search for swap groups in your area on Meetup or use swapping services.
4. Reduce plastic waste
Single-use plastics have a disastrous impact on ecosystems and human health. With just a few easy Zero Waste swaps, you can reduce how much rubbish you put out into the world.
Refuse plastic straws at restaurants, avoid perfume and shampoo samples, buy a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, reuse old containers, use a bamboo toothbrush, and get stainless steel cutlery.
5. Buy eco-friendly products
Shop for products made from sustainable materials that contain healthy and safe ingredients. Look for brands that minimize their social and environmental impacts.
Choose products made from natural, organic, compostable, biodegradable, and recycled materials.
6. Prefer quality, certified products
Shop for more durable and high-quality items that last longer. Quality construction and materials allow you to use products for an extended period, reduce pollution, and save resources.
A great way to check the quality of goods is to look for certifications. Certified items are generally better for the environment and guarantee socially responsible working conditions in every step of the supply chain.
7. Avoid returning your purchases
It's now faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before to buy and return items online. Many brands and retailers offer free shipping and free returns to their customers.
Unfortunately, consumers' returns have a detrimental impact on the environment. They create large amounts of pollution, carbon emissions, and waste.
Stores often dump or burn returned goods rather than trying to sell them again. Returning items you bought online can easily double emissions due to transportation. So avoid it as often as you can.
8. Shop local and organic
Buy food, clothes, and beauty products made locally and organically as much as you can. Visit the farmers market and stock up on delightful, organic, and locally-made products.
By choosing local and organic items over conventional products, you reduce your ecological footprint drastically.
9. Buy items without packaging
Especially when shopping for groceries, buy products without any plastic packaging. Most stores sell products in disposable containers such as PET bottles, tetra paks, plastic containers, polystyrene trays, and more.
Make a conscious effort to look for items that can make the trip back home without an extra bag. Buy in bulk and avoid processed or frozen goods.
10. Recycle paper, glass, metals, and plastics
Recycle any paper, glass, metals, and plastics that you use. Recycling highly reduces the amount of waste going out into the world.
You can also reuse, repurpose, and upcycle old items. For example, you can turn old clothes into tote bags or cleaning rags. It's a great way to save money, use fewer resources, water, and energy.
Upcycling allows you to turn old items into new products that are more beneficial and worthwhile without breaking them down completely.
11. Reduce your litter
Take a few minutes to pick up your plastic waste everywhere you go and before leaving a lake, park, camping site, or beach.
Don't leave any garbage behind as well as any types of waste, including plastic, textiles, glass, oils, food waste, liquid waste, or paper.
12. Try growing crops
Try to grow your fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices in your garden. Many sustainability apps make it easy for you to start an urban farm and grow plants at home.
Growing produce decreases your ecological footprint by eliminating the need for extra packaging, transportation, and refrigeration. You can even use your garden to compost food waste and other compostable goods.
13. Eat less meat and dairy products
Eat more plant-based meals to maintain good health, save animal lives, and protect the environment. While only a few people are vegan, many are actively trying to eat more plant-based foods.
Limit how much meat and dairy products you eat to reduce your impact on the planet and ecosystems. Lower your consumption of animal-derived products, such as milk, cheese, cream, honey, most alcohols, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.
14. Cook your meals at home
Make delicious meals at home to limit the amount of waste you generate as you won't need to buy packaged food on the go. It's a great way to eat lighter, healthier, and reduce your ecological footprint.
Why not prepare seasonal products at home after hitting up the farmers market? Cook your meals in your kitchen, and bring them with you. Add berries to oatmeal bowls for breakfast, make salads or lettuce wraps for lunch, or cook a vegetable stew for dinner.
15. Use greener transportation
Ride a bike instead of a car and take a train more than a plane. Unregulated carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Take action now to limit climate change. Otherwise, the demand for air travel will keep rising. The entire aviation sector could triple its emissions by 2050 if the trend continues.
16. Reduce your energy consumption
To reduce your ecological footprint, consume energy responsibly, and try to conserve resources as much as possible. With just a few simple tips, you save money and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Air dry your laundry instead of using the dryer, wash your clothes less often and with cold water, avoid elevators, turn off lights and other electronics, use a pressure cooker and LED bulbs as they need less energy to function.
17. Consume less water
Try out easy ways to save water. Water scarcity is a huge issue that already affects every continent. About 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month every year.
Fill the dishwasher all the way, take shorter and colder showers, wash your car less often, and capture rainwater to water your plants.
18. Invest in environmental projects
Carbon offsetting makes sense for a lot of people. It allows you to invest in environmental projects around the world to compensate for your carbon emissions.
Many carbon offset projects also provide other people with better living conditions. Offsetting resulting emissions is a great way to reduce your ecological footprint when you don't have access to more climate-friendly alternatives.
Ready to offset your carbon emissions? Discover the carbon offsets projects from Atmosfair and Carbon Footprint.
19. Donate to charity
Donate items that are still in good condition to charitable organizations. It's often a lot easier than trying to sell them and helps communities in need.
Check out the many charities in your area that accept donations. Blankets, towels, and linens can go to animal shelters.
You can donate other used items to homeless and women's shelters, family service agencies, immigrant support groups, and churches.
20. Raise awareness
Raise awareness to accelerate sustainable change. Every small step forward counts to make a difference on a global level. Talk about the issues in the industry and the many solutions that exist.
Gather as much knowledge and information on important topics as you can. Then, talk to your friends, family, and local representatives about policies that protect the environment. You can also join climate action groups in your area.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.