girl holding a potted plant
April 19, 2019

6 Ways to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle

So, its Earth Month and you want to make a positive impact on the environment but you’re not sure where to start, and you’re not ready for major lifestyle changes. You’ve heard about the zero-waste movement, capsule wardrobes and the Marie Kondo Method, but it all seems a little more complicated than what you’re ready for. Cool, we got you!

We’re breaking things down and showing you just how easy it is to make an impact with 6 simple habits that can be incorporated into your current lifestyle starting today! Read below to see how you can #StartSimple during Earth Month.

1. Choose sustainable transportation

We know that sometimes you need a car, and for those times, Zipcar is here to help. By choosing car-sharing (like Zipcar) instead of owning a car, you get access to a car when you need one and you can save up to 1,600 pounds of CO2 emissions every year.1 That’s the same as saving 32 bags of waste from the landfill.8

And when your trip doesn’t require a car, choose sustainable transportation options like bikes, public transit and scooters (not to mention the option to walk).

man and woman in car on roadtrip
Opting for car-sharing (like Zipcar) and using more sustainable transportation options when you can, can majorly reduce your carbon footprint.

2. Nix plastic straws

Americans use 500 million drinking straws each day, according to the National Park Service. While many restaurants, bars and cafes are taking steps toward becoming plastic-free, it’s easy to do your part in places that hand out plastic straws. Ask for your drink without a straw or carry a reusable one with you. They’re cheap and easy to order online.

metal straw in a glass of green juice
Ditch straws altogether, or choose reusable ones for more sustainable sipping.

3. Don't let the faucet run

Most of us don’t think about the amount of water we use on a daily basis. It’s too easy to let the water run while shaving, brushing your teeth, or washing the dishes. But did you know that less than 1% of all the water on Earth can be used by people?3 That’s a big reason to use it wisely and not waste it.

A few quick tricks: Instead of letting the water run, clean your dishes in a sink of soapy water and rinse potatoes and other veggies in a bowl rather than under flowing water.

Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, too. It’ll soon become a habit, and one that could save up to 200 gallons of water a month, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

person putting toothpaste on toothbrush
Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth could save gallons of water per month.

4. Use the cold wash cycle

Despite consistent claims from cleaning companies that our clothes will come out just as clean from a cold wash cycle, many of us are guilty of boiling our laundry.

If you switch the dial on your washing machine to cool for 4 out of 5 of your loads, you could cut 864 lbs. of carbon emissions every year. That’s the equivalent of planting .37 acres of U.S. forest.4 You'll save energy (and cash) spin after spin.

5. Adjust your thermostat

Did you know that up to half of the energy used in a home is from heating and cooling alone?2

Turning your central heating or AC down by just one degree probably won’t leave you freezing cold or dripping with sweat. But could have a substantial impact on the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. Just that one degree can help you reduce your carbon footprint by 142 lbs on average, the equivalent of recycling three bags of trash.8

6. Turn off your tech

We’ve all done it. Left our laptops plugged in all day, turned our TVs to standby, forgotten to switch off the lights when we go out. But every extra second your tech is left on means extra energy used—and greenhouse gas emissions that could have been saved.

Think of it as a regular screen break for your hard-working tools. Power down gadgets when not using them, enable the power management feature on your computer(s) to save power, and try to avoid using a screensaver when your computer monitor is not active. Not only is it better for the planet, you could also slim down your energy bills, too.

blank computer screen on desk
Being mindful of powering down our tech, and switching off lights can have a huge impact.

1 Martin, Elliot and Susan Shaheen “Greenhouse Gas Emission Impacts of Car Sharing in North America
5 Keoleian, G., et al. (1998) LCI Modeling Challenges and Solutions for a Complex Product System: A Mid-Sized Automobile. CSS98-07.
6 EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalency Calculator
8 EPA Household Carbon Footprint Calculator