How to Live Sustainably in 2022

Small lifestyle tweaks will help you go green.

A pin cushion with a threaded needle and spool of thread

Merethe Svarstad Eeg / EyeEm

I grew up in a family which lived frugally. It was always expected that a swish of water would be added to the ketchup to coax out the last vestiges stuck on to the sides of the bottle, or that clothes would be mended, and then mended again, before finally disintegrating into a heap. As a child, this would mortify me, but as an adult, I see how practical, sensible, and sustainable this is. 

At the turn of each year, I look back and reflect on how I simplified my own life in the months gone by. A great part of this shift is a nod toward living more sustainably, not by making any grand gestures, but by taking small steps, which you can accommodate in your lifestyle. Ultimately, it’s small incremental changes that help you to live a little greener, healthier, and cleaner than the year before. Here are some suggestions that you can incorporate into your life.

Farm to Bin

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2018 around 68% of uneaten leftovers or spoiled produce, amounting to a staggering 42.8 million tons, ended up in landfills or combustion facilities. It was only when I began composting food waste and making bio enzyme that I became aware of just how much food was getting wasted at home (and just how much unnecessary packaging I was accumulating).

By buying from local markets or from farmers (you can get in touch with Community Supported Agriculture to buy directly from a local farmer), buying the quantity I needed, and cooking as much as would be consumed, I was able to regulate food waste. Going local, seasonal, and reasonable saves money, stems waste, and it has certainly kept me healthy.

Buy the Best, Swap and Mend the Rest

It is reported that each person consumes 25 pounds of clothing per year, an amount that spews the same number of emissions as driving a car for 1,500 miles. My grandmother always bought the best quality clothes, starched them, ironed them to a crisp, and never feared repeating them. Any rips or errant threads would be mended by her or the local family tailor. The sewing kit was an indispensable part of her arsenal.

Over the years, my wardrobe has embraced the trend-agnostic comfiness of sustainable fabrics (wherever possible) and preloved fast fashion. By stretching the life of all the clothes I own, repurposing the outfits which could be altered thus, and donating or properly discarding what I had no use for, I’m building a closet of clothes that I love and wear. 

Shift to Refills

DIY is not everyone’s cup of tea, so understandably, you will need to buy toiletries, beauty products, cleaning products, and more. But shifting from bulk purchases and one-off purchases to a system of refills will knock off some of the plastic waste you generate. Research points out that the United States is the world’s largest generator of plastic waste, producing approximately 42 million metric tons of waste in 2016. Companies such as Common Good, Plaine Products , Dove, and a host of beauty brands offer easy refills, thus helping help you to reduce your plastic footprint. 

Retrofit a Green Home

Depending on your budget, you can decide how much to invest in making your home green, whether it is an investment as large as solar panels or something as minor yet impactful as low-flow shower heads and aerators, dual-flush toilets, LED light bulbs, and even zero-VOC paints that are good for your health and the planet. The aim is to build an efficient home that promotes yours and the planet’s well-being, and in the long run saves money and resources.

Be Mindful of What and How You Consume

Mahatma Gandhi said, "The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not everyone's greed.” The pandemic has recalibrated how and what we consume, and brought us to the realization that much of what we have accumulated isn’t what we really want or need.

If an object or experience doesn’t bring me happiness daily (such as my love for stationery) or improve the quality of my life in the long run, I will scupper it to the bottom of my purchase priorities, relegated to the reject heap and, occasionally, the subject of a daydream.

View Article Sources
  1. "Reducing Food Waste At Home." United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. "Measuring Fashion." Quantis, 2018.