What Is Sustainable Living?
Living sustainably means living smartly. It means reducing your impact on the environment without compromising your lifestyle. It also means saving money.
Reducing your environmental impact doesn’t take much effort. It just means thinking carefully about the way you dispose of your rubbish, and use electricity and fuel.
Up to two-thirds of your household waste can be reduced, reused or recycled. These actions lower carbon emissions, save energy and resources, and cut the costs of disposal.
To manage your waste better, first audit what you’re throwing away. Collect a week’s worth of rubbish, spread it on a tarp outside, and sort it into plastic, glass, textiles, paper and cardboard, and metals. Have a separate bin in the kitchen for food waste – you don’t want to filter through your other rubbish with bits of week-old lasagna on it!
See how much could be reused, such as old clothes for cleaning rags, jars for storing things. Look at what you can recycle: plastic and glass bottles, tin cans, cardboard, magazines. See what you could reduce by buying less, such as food packaging. Finally, see what can be composted, such as vegetable scraps.
Using Less Electricity
You can do many things to use less electricity and make your home healthier too. Some are free, others require up-front investment, but all will save you money in the long-run, as well as helping improve the environment.
Home heating makes up around 33% of your power bill. If you can afford to, consider installing energy-efficient heating, such as a heat pump or pellet burner. Good-quality insulation in the ceiling, floors and walls will also make a huge difference to the amount of power you use.
Cheaper actions to save energy for heating include stopping draughts around your home, closing the curtains before it gets dark, and blocking off fireplaces that aren’t being used.
Saving Electricity In Other Ways
Simple actions make a big difference to your power bill and to how much carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere from generating electricity.
Fixing a dripping hot water tap can save you $30 a year, and washing your laundry in cold rather than hot water will also save energy. To save even more, hang your clothes outside rather than using a dryer. Taking shorter showers also saves on water heating.
Turning off lights when you leave a room and switching appliances, such as TVs and computers, and phone chargers off at the wall saves a surprising amount of electricity. Turn off your heated towel rail when towels have dried or, even better, dry your towels outside.
Using your microwave rather than your electric stove or oven will save power. Don’t forget to switch it off at the wall, as running the clock can use more energy than cooking food.
Replace your most-used light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, otherwise known as eco-bulbs. They use 20% of the energy of a traditional light bulb. Curtains with a good-quality thermal lining can make a big difference to your power bill, particularly if you have a lot of windows.
Transport makes up 14% of the average household budget or about $136 a week.
Engine size isn’t necessarily a guide to fuel consumption. When buying a new vehicle, check with the dealer about the car’s efficiency. Maintaining your car well, not overloading it with roof racks and stuff in the boot, and keeping tyres at the right pressure helps save fuel.
To save petrol on the road, drive smoothly, and don’t speed or let the engine idle for long periods. Avoid short trips on a cold engine and only use the air-conditioning when you really need to. You can also reduce your fuel use by planning your journeys and saving up quick errands for one trip.
If you can, don’t take the car at all. Public transport has advantages other than using less fuel per person. It’s usually cheaper than running and parking a car, it gives you a chance to do other things like reading a book or just relaxing, and it causes less pollution.
Consider using a walking school bus rather than driving kids to school. They’ll get fitter and have fun with their friends, as well as saving you time and money.