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Eco-Friendly Lifestyle: How to Live More Sustainably?

Constant record-breaking temperatures, frequent extreme weather events, melting glaciers and endangered animal species are all consequences of mankind's misconduct and excessive consumption. Mother Earth is calling for help, and one of the things we all can do to help her is to change our lifestyles. Keep reading for a list of 18 easy ways you can live greener.
1. Reduce your meat consumption
By consuming less meat and meat products you will contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, one of the main causes of which is namely the meat industry. Skip meat and cheese for just one day and you will reduce emissions equivalent to taking a car off the road for five weeks! Also, if you are ready for even a bigger change, consider becoming a vegetarian or a vegan.

2. Sort out waste responsibly
Almost all of the waste contains recyclable materials, such as plastic or paper, which can be used to produce new products, therefore it is very important to sort it. Alternatively, you can use your creativity and make some cool things out of trash. Perhaps that will even inspire a new business idea?

3. Use less plastic
There is so much plastic around us that it seems impossible to avoid it. According to National Geographic, 73% of all beach litter is plastic. Crazy, right? However, cutting down plastic consumption is not that difficult. Start by saying no to disposable plastic items and bottled drinks, and carrying a refillable bottle instead. Also, whenever possible, buy in bulk (this way you will also save some money!), avoid products with plastic packaging and use reusable bags for shopping and storing food products such as fruits, vegetables or dry goods.

4. Save water
Freshwater resources are limited therefore they have to be used thoughtfully. Start by setting a target to reduce your monthly water consumption by at least 10%. This can be done by using your washing machine or dishwasher only when fully loaded and on eco mode. Additionally, take shorter showers and change your standard showerhead into a water-saving one. While brushing your teeth, do not forget to turn off the tap. Another great idea is to collect greywater and rainwater and later use it in your garden or for toilet flushing.

5. Bring your old stuff back to life
Just because something is old doesn't mean that it has to be thrown away. For example, clothes that are no longer worn or have minor defects, can be gifted or donated to charities, thus doing a good deed. You can also find a lot of interesting ideas online on how to make something new out of old things, so before you throw away a broken item, think about whether you can fix it or apply it elsewhere.

6. Be a conscious shopper and choose quality items
Think twice before shopping. Tempting promotions and advertisements often lead to people buying much more products than they need. Consumption can also be reduced by opting for more expensive, higher quality items that will last much longer, and purchasing clothes and household items in thrift stores.

7. Travel eco-friendly
Use public transport, walk and cycle more often. If possible, opt for train travel instead of flying. By doing this you will not only contribute to a cleaner environment but will also get to see more. By comparison, a flight from Tallinn to Milan emits 140 kilograms of carbon dioxide while a similar 2,000-kilometer train journey emits only 30 kilograms.

8. Conserve energy
As with saving water, set a goal to reduce your energy consumption per month. When leaving the room, always turn off the lights and do not leave electrical appliances in standby mode. Also, make sure you replace conventional light bulbs with energy-efficient ones and hang clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.

9. Reduce paper use
Nearly 4 billion trees are cut down every year for paper production. Reduce your impact on forests by switching from paper to electronic bills, printing on both sides, and reading books, newspapers, and magazines online or in the library. If you are a student, consider taking your lecture notes digitally.

10. Encourage others to take care of the planet
Learn yourself and educate others – help your family and friends to make small steps towards a greener planet. Together we can make a difference.

11. Stop wasting food
Over one-third of all food produced goes to waste. Prevent food waste by planning meals in advance and using food-sharing platforms. Make sure that products near their expiry date are used first and keep them in visible places. Besides, a significant proportion of foods can be frozen, thus extending their shelf life.

12. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products and beauty products
Instead of harmful cleaners, which later end up in the environment, opt for vinegar and baking soda which are guaranteed to work wonders. Also, you can make natural shampoo, soap, facial cleanser, deodorant or lip balm at home. The planet and your body will thank you.

13. Buy more local produce
By choosing fresh seasonal products at farmers' markets, you will not only stay healthy but will also help to reduce transportation-related emissions. It's a win-win for everyone!

14. Contribute to clean-up and tree-planting campaigns
Participation in environmental projects is both a productive way to spend time and a great opportunity to find new like-minded friends. If there are no such campaigns happening in your area, take initiative and organise one!

15. Start composting
Make composting food and garden waste a habit. This way you will not only make organic fertilizers perfect for houseplants, vegetables and other plants but will also reduce the amount of litter going to the landfill.

16. Buy from environmentally responsible brands
Fashion is the third highest-polluting industry in the world. By supporting sustainable brands, you will be sure that the items you have purchased have been produced with the least possible impact on the environment.

17. Borrow and lend things
If you need something for only a short period of time, consider borrowing it instead of buying. Also, don't forget to lend and share your items with friends and family because sharing is caring!

18. Calculate your impact on the environment and start making a change
By using the calculators Eco Footprint, Carbon Footprint and Water Footprint, you can easily and quickly estimate what impact your daily habits have on our planet. This will help you to identify the areas in which you need to improve.
Writer: Toma Klusaitė