What Does Sustainable Living Mean? A Guide to Choosing an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Eco-friendly lifestyle with a plastic free set

We all know the world is changing, and we’re running out of time to make a positive impact. But it’s never too late to make an impact through sustainable living practices such as supporting sustainable clothing brands.

Good news — sustainability isn’t a trend; it’s something anyone can do, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. That’s because it’s about understanding the connections between environmental and economic issues.

This guide will provide all the information you need to choose an eco-friendly lifestyle and to answer the question, what does “sustainable living” mean? So to teach how to incorporate sustainable actions in your daily life, we have it all covered.

Let’s get started on our journey towards a more sustainable future!

Definition of Sustainable Living

We’ve all heard “sustainable living,” but what does it mean? Simply put, sustainable living is all about creating a good lifestyle for both the environment and you. It means prioritizing natural and renewable resources—like energy, water, and materials—you use daily.

By living sustainably, you’re not just conserving the Earth’s natural resources but also combating climate change and creating a healthier society.

The United Nations Economic and Social Affairs identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a blueprint for creating a more sustainable and equitable world. These goals cover many issues, from poverty and hunger to climate action and sustainable cities.

Sustainable living practices aren’t about making significant changes all at once. However, making small, everyday changes contributing to the SDGs will go a long way.

Hand holding bubble of leaf and eco icons

Adopting an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

How can you use renewable energy sources to lead a more sustainable lifestyle?

Below are a few ideas on how you can adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle:

Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics

This includes plastic bags, water bottles, and straws. Instead, invest in reusable alternatives like cloth bags, water bottles, and metal straws.

Conserve Energy

Turn off lights and electronics when you’re not using them, and consider investing in sustainable energy.

Support Sustainable Agriculture

Choose organic and locally-produced food whenever possible. Moreover, look for certifications like USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Walk, bike, or take public transportation instead of driving whenever possible if you need to drive, carpool, or invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Conserve Water

Also, fix leaks, take shorter showers, and turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. You can also invest in water-saving appliances and fixtures.

Eat a Plant-based Diet

Animal agriculture contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. You can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your consumption of meat and dairy products.

Support Renewable Energy

Invest in solar or wind power for your home, or choose a renewable energy provider if possible.

Choose Eco-friendly Products

Look for products that are made from sustainable materials and have minimal packaging. You can also use natural ingredients to make cleaning and personal care products.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

This classic mantra still holds regarding living an eco-friendly lifestyle. Reduce your consumption of goods, reuse items as much as possible, and recycle whenever feasible.

Support Environmental Organizations

Numerous organizations work to protect the planet and promote sustainability. Consider donating to or volunteering with a local or national environmental group.

Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle may seem overwhelming at first. But making small changes and taking things one step at a time makes a big difference in the planet’s health.

Remember that every little bit counts; even small actions significantly impact when done collectively.

You can track your efforts by estimating your carbon footprint using the US Environmental Protection Agency Calculator.

Understanding the Four Pillars of Sustainability

There are many ways to achieve sustainability. However, the commonly accepted approach focuses on the four pillars of sustainability: social, economic, environmental, and cultural.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these pillars and what they mean:

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability is all about creating safe, healthy, and equitable communities. This includes access to education, healthcare, affordable housing, and promoting diversity, inclusion, and social justice. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to live happy and fulfilling lives.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability entails building a thriving economy that supports the needs of people and the planet. This includes offering jobs, promoting entrepreneurship, and investing in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure. In addition, of course, the sustainability of economic growth is crucial.

Environmental Sustainability

This pillar involves protecting the natural resources and ecosystems that support life on Earth. To boost economic sustainability, you must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity, practice sustainable farming, and conserve water or other natural resources.

It’s crucial to ensure that our actions don’t harm the environment and take steps to preserve the planet for future generations. For instance, gases like Methane and Carbon dioxide are too toxic for the environment. So, avoid them at all costs.

Cultural Sustainability

Cultural sustainability means preserving the heritage and traditions of different communities and promoting cultural diversity. The best way to achieve this is by supporting local arts and crafts, protecting historical landmarks, and respecting indigenous cultures.

Living a Zero-Waste Life

From food packaging to plastic water bottles, our modern lives are filled with waste that often ends in landfills or pollutes our planet’s oceans and wildlife.

However, there’s a growing movement towards a zero-waste lifestyle. As a result, people are gradually striving to reduce their environmental impact by generating as little waste as possible.

Here are some tips for living a zero-waste life:

Refuse Single-use Items

Say no to disposable items like plastic straws, utensils, and bags. Instead, turn to reusable alternatives like stainless steel straws, bamboo utensils, and cloth bags.

Choose Package-free Options

Buy in bulk or choose products with minimal packaging. Bring your containers to the store or shop at a zero-waste store that encourages package-free shopping.


Food waste is a significant contributor to landfills. Composting can turn food scraps into nutrient-rich soil for your plants or community gardens.

Make Your Products

Make your cleaning supplies, personal care products, and food to reduce packaging waste and save money.

Repair and Repurpose

Before throwing something away, see if it can be repaired or repurposed. For example, give old clothes a new life by upcycling them into something new, or fix a broken appliance instead of buying a new one.

Reduce Energy Consumption

Choose energy-efficient appliances and turn off lights and electronics when you’re not using them. By reducing your energy consumption, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint.

Support Eco-friendly Brands

Finally, opt for products from companies prioritizing sustainable life and environmental stewardship. Look for certifications like Fair Trade, Certified B Corporation, and Rainforest Alliance.

You are living with less critical to living a zero-waste life. It takes some getting used to, but it can help minimize your environmental impact when done right!

Tips for More Sustainable Transportation

Bicycle leaving a green trail on the asphalt

If your goal is to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, one of the best places to start is with sustainable transportation. Going car-free or using public transit is one of the most impactful ways to reduce your carbon footprint and help protect the planet.

But if you do need a car, these few tips on how to make it more sustainable:

Walk or Bike

Walking or biking is not only good for the environment, but it’s also great for your health. Consider walking instead of driving if you have a short commute or an errand.

Take Public Transportation

Public transportation reduces your carbon footprint and saves money on gas and parking. Consider taking the bus, train, or subway instead of driving.


Carpooling also limits the number of cars on the road. Carpool with coworkers or friends for your daily commute or events.

Choose Fuel-efficient Vehicles

If you need to drive, choose a fuel-efficient or electric vehicle. These vehicles emit less greenhouse gas emissions and can save you money on gas in the long run.

Avoid Unnecessary Trips

Consider consolidating your trips to reduce the times you need to drive. For example, plan your errands ahead of time and try to combine them into one trip.

Use Eco-friendly Transportation Options

Try eco-friendly transportation options like electric bikes, scooters, or even skateboards for shorter trips.

Offset Your Carbon Emissions

If you need to take a flight, offset your carbon emissions by donating to a carbon offset program. This helps fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure your transportation needs are met while living sustainably!

Simple Swaps for a Green Home

Choosing an eco-friendly lifestyle is all about making simple swaps. Making eco-friendly choices doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can make the following simple swaps for a more sustainable home:

Swap Out Your Light Bulbs

Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs. They use up to 75% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Use Reusable Bags

Replace single-use plastic bags with reusable bags for shopping, and opt for reusable produce bags. This will reduce your plastic waste and save you money in the long run.

Opt for Natural Cleaning Products

Switch to natural cleaning products or use ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils. They are your exposure to harmful chemicals and shorten your environmental impact.

Choose Eco-friendly Bedding and Towels

Opt for organic cotton or bamboo bedding and towels. These materials are sustainable, durable, and hypoallergenic, making them an excellent choice for a green home.

Reduce Water Waste

Install low-flow showerheads and faucets, fix leaky pipes, and turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. These actions seem simple, but they trim down your water usage and save you money on your water bill.

In A Nutshell

Engaging in sustainable practices is a lifestyle based on responsible consumption and reducing your ecological footprint. It’s about consuming fewer resources and re-evaluating the environmental impact of your decisions.

Sustainable living doesn’t have to be overwhelming or impossible to achieve. You can start small and build your way up.

Small changes like swapping out your light bulbs for energy-saving bulbs or choosing products made from recycled materials are substantial.

You don’t have to be perfect to make a change — every little bit counts. So, why not commit to start living more sustainably today?

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