35 Sustainable Micro-Habits to Try Out

Forming micro-habits takes two minutes or less, but can make a world of difference. 

If you’re looking for ways to be more sustainable but don’t want to overhaul your life right now, there are small ways that you can make a difference to your own life and those around you. 

These small habits are things you usually didn’t notice before, but can help you be more eco-friendly in just a few short steps. 

According to Harvard Business Review, micro-habits are much more realistic and easier to do in the short term than big resolutions and can actually be the stepping stones you need to get to make bigger resolutions in future. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t leave the water running when you brush your teeth. Your mom might have told you this as a kid, and it’s for good reason. 
  • Have showers instead of baths. You don’t have to fill an entire bathtub with water.
  • Time your showers. Do you really need a 30-minute shower where you sing to your shampoo bottles? Avoid water waste by cutting those showers short.
  • Collect shower water or grey water in a bucket and use it to water your plants. It’s as simple as putting a bucket in the shower while you lather up, so nothing is wasted and your garden still gets some love. 
  • Only do laundry when you have a full load. Conserve energy and water by making sure you don’t do laundry unless necessary. Your bank balance will thank you too. 
  • Let clothes dry in the sun if possible. Who needs the dryer at all?! Put your clothes out in the sun and let them dry the natural way. You’ll save yourself so much money and energy in not using your dryer and your clothes will smell great!
  • When washing dishes in the sink, make sure you fill the sink first instead of just running water. Don’t let all that water just run down the drain. Fill the sink with soapy water and wash them properly. Rinsing before they go into the dishwasher? Fill the sink with some water and use that to rinse dishes. 
  • Only use your dishwasher when you have a full load. It saves time, energy and money!
  • Save leftovers instead of throwing them away and make a second meal from them. If they’re still good, then make another meal from them. There are many interesting blogs and even TV shows about how to great another great meal from your leftovers.
  • Set aside money for donations. Five dollars might not be a lot, but it could really help your favorite organization whether it be an animal shelter or an eco-friendly NGO. 
  • Turn off lights, aircon in rooms that no one is using/that are unnecessary. You’ll save a lot o your electricity bill, plus you’ll be saving the earth. 
  • Stop buying plastic bottles. Bottle your own water. By using a water filter and stainless steel or glass bottles you can save money and keep plastic bottles out of the landfills.
  • Use LED bulbs. They’re low energy and last much longer, plus they can be recycled. 
  • Buy in bulk. You’ll not just save time and money, but also waste less packaging and your carbon footprint will be small. 
  • Keep a reusable tote (or three) for when you’re shopping. Using cloth tote bags will help keep plastic waste down and they’re more durable. Plus, if there’s a spill, you can just throw them in the laundry. 
  • Grab your coffee in a reusable mug. While there are some places that use recyclable coffee cups, one use cups are still not great for the environment. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, save the environment and some money with your own reusable mug. 
  • Don’t print anything you don’t absolutely have to. And if you do have to print anything, recycle paper where you can. 
  • Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones or paper towels. Paper napkins up to a month to decompose in the trash. Cloth napkins are far better and cheaper. 
  • Buy local. When you buy local produce, you save money on shipping costs, get fresher produce, and support local farmers.
  • Pay your bills online and go paperless with important documents. No having to travel around to pay your bills and no printing pages upon pages of documents when you can just save the documents to your devices and the cloud. 
  • Consider having one meat free day a week. A meat free diet really helps the environment, but even going meat-free once a week really helps lower carbon emissions as less land is needed to produce vegetables. 
  • Buy products without packaging if possible. Use that tote bag and buy loose veggies instead.
  • Ask yourself if you really need that shiny new thing. Shop for stuff that you know for sure you need them and will be using them often and for long. This will reduce wastefulness.
  • Buying second hand [or join a freecycle group]. Using preloved items promotes the reduction of waste within a community. You also get to save money.
  • Use reusable containers wherever possible. Get a lunchbox that you can use every day, ask restaurants if you can take your leftovers home in reusable containers, store your pantry items in reusable containers.
  • Get a reusable stainless steel straw. Many places are no longer using plastic straws. You can save your need for them by getting yourself a metal one that can be attached to your keys or carried in your handbag and reused. 
  • Water your plants and garden early in the morning. Watering your plants in the morning requires less water as the temperatures are cooler. Evaporation is less in the morning compared to evenings so less water is wasted.

No one says you HAVE to start doing all of these now, but doing small, sustainable things daily eventually become great habits and you’ll see your life improve for the better. Plus, there’s that great feeling of knowing that you’re doing little things to help the environment every day. So go forth and start your micro-habits today and see how they make a difference in your life and that of the planet. 

Follow Carmen Williams:
Carmen lives with her cat, Peeves in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a freelance journalist and copywriter with over 10 years' experience in all things digital. She’s written on various subjects from finance, to sustainability, to relationships for many brands, including Aurora Sustainability, TotalBeauty and News24.

  1. Jenna
    | Reply

    Love this post – so many awesome (and easy tips)! I always say, every small change helps and makes a difference. This list is a great place to start!
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

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