Homesteading has always been about self-sufficiency, about being free from modern systems, and providing more than we consume.
And I truly believe that this homesteading way of life goes hand-in-hand with finding ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
As humans, we have basic needs for survival like food, water, and shelter; these needs are met by using some form of our earth’s resources. When you choose to live sustainably, you are choosing to limit the number of earth’s resources you use and reduce the impact you have on our community, our land, and our world.
Living sustainably doesn’t have to be an entire lifestyle change (unless you want it to be); you can start small with more subtle changes. The good news about making sustainable changes is that most are easy to make and every little bit helps.
Easy Ways to Live a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle
1. Wash Your Clothes with Cold Water
Heating water uses a lot of energy, so switching to washing your clothes with cold water can help reduce the amount of energy used. This will help prevent unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions.
2. Wash Full Loads of Laundry
Wash full loads will reduce the number of times the washer has to be run. Less washing means less carbon dioxide emissions going into the air.
3. Line Dry Your Laundry
Something as simple as hanging your clothes out to dry can help save the environment. This can reduce the number of fossil fuels used, eliminate carbon dioxide emissions and save you a little money.
4. Use Eco-Friendly Natural Cleaners
These natural cleaners are healthy for you and the planet. Using Eco-friendly natural cleaners in your home helps increase the air quality while reducing the amount of water and air pollution outdoors.
You can also make your own DIY natural cleaners like these:
If you would prefer to support a green company, then there are many different options to choose from. They all should produce natural cleaners that have reusable or biodegradable packaging. Check out Azure Standard for some wonderful cleaning supply options.
5. Zero-Waste Efficient Cleaning Routine
Zero-waste cleaning is mostly about the supplies that you use and buy to clean your house. Many have resorted to using disposable cleaning supplies for convenience. This includes sponges, wipes, and even the plastic bottles that cleaning products come in are throwaways.
A Zero-waste cleaning routine revolves around supplies that can be reused. These can include rags, recycled t-shirts, brooms, a vacuum, wooden toilet brushes, glass bottles, and an old-fashioned feather duster.
6. Use LED Light Bulbs in Your Home
Making a sustainable living change can be as easy as changing a light bulb. LED light bulbs use less energy and last longer than incandescent light bulbs. Less energy used reduces the number of greenhouse effects coming from power plants and their longer life reduces the amount of bulbs being thrown away. This is an easy change that can reduce the impact on the environment and your electricity bill.
7. Use Less Plastic Items to Live a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle
One of the big ones that everyone has heard about is the amount of plastic in the oceans and building up in landfills. A simple change that can be made to help reduce your impact on the environment is replacing your plastic with reusable or biodegradable options. This change creates a sustainable zero-waste by reducing the amount of plastic you throw away.
I try to store as much as possible in reusable glass mason jars.
8. Use Reusable Containers, Bags, and Water Bottles
Switch all of the plastic containers out in your house for washable-reusable items. You can find reusable options for just about every convenience plastic item in your home. This includes food storage containers, freezer bags, grocery bags, and water bottles. There is no need to throw away when you are using reusable options, making this a great way to contribute to a sustainable zero-waste lifestyle.
9. Use Eco-Friendly Skin Care Products
When the word eco-friendly is used when referring to skin care products it means that these products are made from natural renewable resources that are stored in environmentally friendly packaging. You can buy your products from companies like Toups & Co. (my fave!) or find DIY recipes like these:
- How to Make Tallow Body Butter
- Tallow Soap Recipe
- Homemade Pumpkin Soap Recipe
- Honey Mint Lip Balm Recipe
- Homemade Hand Cream Recipe (for hard-working hands)
Learn more about the importance with skincare products in my podcast episode here: How to Opt-Out of Toxic Mainstream Skincare
10. Buy Local or From Farmer’s Markets
If growing your own produce or meat isn’t an option then the next best thing is to support local farmers and producers. Shopping locally means less driving, the goods you buy aren’t transported long distances and there is less harmful packaging being used. Buying locally helps save the environment and allows you to know where your food is coming from.
Take a look at How to Start Buying Local Food if you are interested in sourcing local food but don’t know where to start.
11. Eat What is in Season to Live a More Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle
Eating what is in season refers to the things that are being harvested at the time. Eating what is in season naturally goes with buying locally and helps reduce the amount of traveling your products do. An added bonus is that you know where your food is coming from and you are getting the freshest in-season produce.
12. Grow Your Own Food for a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle
Growing your own food allows you to pick and choose what is in the garden which prevents food waste. It also allows you to decide how these things are being grown. You know that your food is being grown with natural methods that will help sustain the soil and prevent toxins from entering the water systems.
Growing a garden of any kind is such a great way to become more self-sufficient and create that zero-waste sustainable life. If you are interested in learning more about growing your own food supply, these previous posts will get you started:
- Reasons to Plant a Victory Garden
- How To Plan Out Your Fall Garden
- Why You Should Grow Heirloom Seeds
- The Best Organic Fertilizers for Your Vegetable Garden
13. Save the Environment by Preserving Your Own Food
Preserving food is the process of prolonging the shelf life of certain food products. When you preserve your own food you are reducing the amount of food that would otherwise expire and go to waste. Preserving also helps save the environment because home canned goods are stored in glass jars that can be reused every year. The only thing that gets thrown out in the home preserving process is the used metal canning lids.
Thanks to the lid shortage in recent years, reusable canning lids have become more popular. I specifically have started to use Harvest Guard reusable lids and have been quite impressed. Take a look at how they work and how I used them by watching here.
There are different methods that you can use to preserve your harvest, you can home-can your food, you can freeze it, or dehydrate it. Each method has its own process, pros, and cons, the following posts can help you decide which might be right for you.
- How to Manage Your Garden Harvest (Without Losing Your Mind)
- The Best Resources for Safe Canning Information
- How to Freeze Green Beans
- My Canning Made Easy Course
14. Buy Items in Bulk to Help Live a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle
Buying items in bulk helps reduce the number of times you need to go to the store and the amount of packaging companies use to distribute their goods. Buying in bulk is also a great way for you to save money and gas. If you cannot find a good-quality bulk store near you, check out Azure Standard and see if they have a drop location near your home.
I have been bulk buying for a long time and I am obsessed, if you would like to start buying your items in bulk check out these:
- How to Store and Use Bulk Pantry Goods
- How to Store a Year’s Worth of Food for Your Family (Without Waste and Overwhelm
- Tricks for Storing & Using Bulk Pantry Goods with Jessica (Podcast Episode)
- The Prairie Homestead Pantry Tour (Youtube)
15. Use Second-Hand Stores or Yard Sales
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Shopping at second-hand stores is a way to prevent items from finding their way to landfills. Donating things to second-hand stores or having a yard sale is a way for you to declutter and give someone else the chance to reuse what you no longer need. This is a great Eco-friendly way to live a zero-waste lifestyle.
16. Start a Compost Pile to Help Live a Sustainable Zero Waste Lifestyle
Compost has so many different benefits that can impact the environment and I am a huge fan. Compost piles are an alternative to piling food waste into landfills, it regenerates soil, and helps lower greenhouse emissions to name a few. Making and Using Compost is pretty darn easy and it’s a simple way to start a zero-waste lifesty.e
17. Use Rain Barrels to Conserve Water and Energy
Rain barrels are used to catch and contain water runoff caused by the rain. They help prevent water runoff that would cause flooding and soil erosion while decreasing the demand for water. Catching rainwater in rain barrels helps conserve energy and water by storing it and then using it when needed. Instead of running your pump or using the city water system use stored rainwater to water the garden or give your chickens a drink. Check your state’s laws about collecting rain as it is not allowed in some locations.
18. Start or Participate in Community Clean-Up
Being a part of a community can be a little bit intimidating if it is something that you are not familiar with, it was for us until we learned how to cultivate community even while homesteading. Use your community to help save the environment by having regular clean-up and recycling days. Find out if your community already has one organized or start by talking to your township to create one.
19. Minimize the Amount You Consume
Living Sustainably is all about using only the resources you need to help reduce the impact we are having on our world. Producing the things that we can and only buying the things that we need is the very definition of sustainable living. You don’t have to give up everything, just be aware and minimize the amount you are consuming when you can.
Are You Ready to Try a Sustainable Zero-Waste Lifestyle?
You don’t have to change your entire way of life to start living more sustainably and waste-free. Small changes can go a long way and every little bit helps. Just think if everyone did just a little bit…it would be so very beneficial for our community, our country, and the world. There are so many different things that can be done to help, this list is only a few simple options that can be done to make a difference.
Do you already live sustainably? What are some of the changes you have made to become more eco-friendly and waste-free?
More Deep Thoughts on Modern Homesteading:
- How to Cultivate Community While Homesteading
- Modern Homesteading Manifesto
- Pushing Back Against Consumer Culture (podcast episode)
- Torch Carriers (choosing hard)
Hi, I was trying to leave this comment for a different page but wasn’t able to.
But in light of being sustainable/zero waste, I found your amazing apple scrap vinegar post and absolutely loved the idea! I promptly took the next batch of apples I used for sauce and kept the cores for vinegar, following your directions. I made mine and gave it the 6 full weeks to ferment, but I had a lot, and now my bottles have been sitting for much longer than 6 weeks, when I open them they are crazy fizzy and bubble over the brim of my jugs!! Just wondering if they have perhaps turned alcoholic, which I am only concerned with because I am nursing my son still. Any thoughts??