So you’re Climate Curious, but it all feels a little overwhelming? I feel ya! I didn’t grow up in an environment of eco-consciousness. It just wasn’t on our radar.
Almost a decade ago, as I perused through thrift store racks for some fun fashion finds, I started to get curious about the environmental impacts of all the clothes we wear. One thing led to another and that curiosity broadened to include many aspects of my life. But when I sought out solutions, I struggled to find actionable steps to help our planet that felt attainable for our family.
The Circle of Sustainable Living
We have far more resources today, but most of them focus on consumption – reducing it, changing it, shifting it. These are important elements of more eco-friendly living. But sustainable living is circular; it includes elements of how we obtain, use, and dispose of our things, not just how we buy them. So let’s broaden our perspective on how to get started with sustainable living and think about the whole cycle. I call it the Circle of Sustainable Living. And we can start anywhere on the circle!
Sustainable living is a lifestyle shift that takes time and comes in fits and starts. The growth ebbs and flows. Some days, old habits and new habits feel like a breeze. Other days, they all feel like a slog, and it’s easy to feel like giving up. I’ve been there! Even today, I have days where I look around and wonder why we do all this.
But then I remember that we invest in climate action for our kids and their future. We make changes for our families and communities to make them better places to live and be. It’s worth it! And most days, it’s not hard when we focus on the lowest hanging fruit, making changes and incorporating habits that feel most accessible to each of us.
That means sustainable living will look different for each of us. You can start with different habit shifts that suit your interests, abilities, financial access, personal preferences, lifestyle options, and more. And most importantly – you can start anywhere on the Circle of Sustainability.
Score a few small wins and let the momentum build. You might be surprised how quickly all the little things add up!
Start with “Get It”
Like most of the resources in the sustainability space, you can start choosing new habits based on how you “Get It” – how and what you buy, borrow, and bring into your home. There are tons of resources on these topics. If these types of considerations resonate you with, pick one or two new sustainable living habits and start there!
- Shop secondhand
- Borrow from family/friends/neighbors
- Rent instead of buy
- Use something you already have instead of buying new
- Request in a gifting group
- Buy from a local company
- Buy from a company with a sustainability ethos
- Wait to buy (avoid impulse shopping)
- Choose a more sustainable alternative
Maybe you have favored brands you’re not ready to part with. You have favorite foods, favorite restaurants, and certain lifestyle habits that are working well for your family. Ditching the comfortable status quo in exchange for new sustainable habits can seem daunting, especially when it involves shifting what we buy, where we shop, and how we consume. Eventually, these considerations will come into play, but you can choose to start your sustainable living journey elsewhere.
Start with “Use it”
Maybe you’d prefer to focus on making the things you already have love last longer, be mindful about how and how long you use things you already own, how you care for them and make them last. These types of eco-conscious living habits focus on how you “Use It.”
Regardless of what you buy or where you shop, sustainable living might look like making the most of the things you buy, disposing of them less frequently, and other related topics that end up saving you money and helping you buy less. Here are some examples of habits that focus on how you Use It and can help you start your sustainable living journey at the second part of the Circle of Sustainable Living.
- Care for it well and make it last
- Use it less often
- Repair it
- Mend it
- Maintain it diligently
- Lend it out
- Make do without (for now or forever)
- Use something for alternative purposes
- Wear it often
- Use it up
Start with “Pass it on”
Last but certainly not least, what if you start your sustainable living adventure by focusing on how you dispose of things or how you “Pass it on.” No matter how you buy it or use it, disposal is an important element of the Circle of Sustainable Living too.
If it feels most accessible, choose one or two new eco-friendly lifestyle habits that prioritize how you pass something on. You might consider being more intentional about how you donate or recycle items, how you resell items you don’t need anymore, and what you can give to friends or neighbors who need the things you have. Here are a few examples of ways you can start your eco-conscious endeavor through sustainable disposal habits.
- Give away to a family/friend/neighbor who needs it
- Donate with intention
- Sell via consignment/resale shop
- Sell via online marketplaces
- Give away via online marketplace/gifting group
Sustainable living is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you’re new to the space, welcome! We’re so happy you’re here. Don’t feel like you need to overhaul your life overnight. That won’t work for most of us; it’s not sustainable.
Pick a new habit or two periodically. When it feels comfortable, choose something new to try and add to your arsenal of eco-friendly accomplishments. Give yourself grace as you try and learn new things. Some will work and some may not, and that’s ok. But don’t give up. The future of our planet (our kids’ future home) is on the line. And we can all work together to do our small part to make big changes.
There are so many Honestly Modern resources to help you start incorporating more eco-friendly living habits in many different aspects of your life. Our founder, Jen Panaro, is a bit of a composting nerd, so that’s one of our specialties. Our writer, Reese Moore, is an eco-conscious DIY diva and loves to share ideas for sustainable home decor, holiday items, and so much more!
We cover so many other areas too. Take a look around. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. We love hearing from you. You can shoot us emails, and our founder, Jen, is active on Instagram, so pop on over and say hello.
Now let’s get on this journey together. It’s always better with friends!