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Sustainability hacks:
simple eco tricks for a greener life

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sustainability hacks and eco hacks
Photo: Sinitta Leunen via Unsplash

We’ve all tried ‘life hacks’ that promise to simplify or speed up everyday tasks. Now it’s time for the eco version: eco hacks. They’re the little tricks that can have a big impact in helping you lead a greener life. We asked our audience for their favorite sustainability hacks  here’s what they came up with.

What are sustainability or eco hacks?

Sustainability hacks, or eco hacks, are life hacks, but green. Theyre clever little tricks that help us make a difference for the planet without complicating our lives. 

Some of the best sustainability hacks involve tiny shifts. In our homes, food, water and energy are major sources of waste or greenhouse gas emissions, so these areas are a great place to start. For instance, these days we’re in the habit of leaving chargers plugged in and appliances on standby, but unplugging appliances when not in use can significantly cut electricity consumption. Eco hacks like these can can save you money as well.

We reached out to our Instagram followers for their top eco hacks and we’ve gathered the best responses below.

 

Our audience’s top 15 eco hacks

  1. Seed bombing: As the name suggests, it’s like a bomb full of flower seeds. It’s a trick that started with guerrilla gardeners and is now gaining popularity. All you need is some seeds, compost, water, clay and a bowl, and you can create your very own seed bombs. They will create an explosion of life wherever you throw them!
  2. BYOC, or bring-your-own-cup: One of our followers takes an old jar wherever they go, for takeaway coffee. The lid seals perfectly, so no spilling hazard. (Plus, the glass doesnt leak nanoplastics into your coffee. Win-win.)
  3. Forget ‘best before’ dates: A lot of food has a best before date on it. It means what it says: best before that date, but likely also find after. It doesn’t mean its unsafe as soon as that date has passed. All you have to do, is look, smell and taste to find out whether its still edible.
  4. Farm worms, eat plants: One inventive reader suggests putting a worm farm in your garden, to turn your waste into compost. That combined with plant-based cooking (which not only is more sustainable, but also means all scraps can be composed), is a very good way to reduce your garbage.
  5. Reuse and repair: Whenever somethings broken, try to fix it instead of just throwing it into the garbage bin. A few stitches can give clothing a new life. Dont have sewing skills? Read our article on Fixing Fashion and learn how easy it actually is to incorporate this eco hack into your life.
  6. Confetti with plant seeds: This eco hack surprised us: it turns out you could buy confetti that contains plant seeds. Instead of putting plastic or other waste into the environment, your party actually has a positive impact on nature.
  7. Buy secondhand: Whether it’sclothing, books, furniture or electronics: try buying second hand and giving items a second life. You’ll find stuff that no one else has, and when people ask where you got that beautiful item, you can inspire them to adopt this sustainability hack too.
  8. Freeze your bread: Did you know bread is one of the most wasted food items? Freeze it so that it lasts way longer. Oh, and were you aware that you should not put bread in the fridge? It actually spoils quicker when you do.
  9. Hang-dry clothes: This is not only good for our planet, but also for your energy bill and your clothes. You use less electricity and your clothes last longer.
  10. Party sustainably: We already mentioned confetti, but what about balloons or reusable cups? Try replacing them with biodegradable options such as paper lanterns. Or hang plants, which you can later give away as a present. There are eco-friendly options for cups as well, made of natural materials such as corn instead of plastics.
  11. Bring your own bag: This is such an obvious eco hack, but still, its easy to find yourself without a bag just when you need one. Get into the habit of having a bag on you so you have it when youre buying groceries.
  12. Shorter, cold showers: Cold showers use less energy. Also, they encourage you not to stay in the shower so long, so you use less water (the average 10-minute shower uses about 18 gallons, or 68 liters). Some of our followers said they fuond cold showers good for their mental health too. Don’t forget to stock up on plastic-free, eco-friendly soaps and shampoos.
  13. Use coffee grinds to keep plants healthy: Coffee grinds contain nitrogen that can help boost plant growth. The trick is to compost them rather than putting them straight into a plant pot, or the plants wont be able to get the nitrogen. With this sustainability hack youll have healthier plants and less garbage.
  14. First in, first out: Grocery stores use this principle, so why not do the same in your fridge? When you put the groceries away, put your freshly bought items in the back, and the older ones in the front. That way, you don’t forget about them and end up throwing them out when they’re not good anymore.
  15. Talk to your peers: Stay curious, and get in touch with other people who care about our planet. They might surprise you, like our followers did!

 

sustainability hacks or eco hacks

Photo: Ryutaro on Pexels

Food hacks from the pros

Hacking what you eat can have big environmental benefits. One third of all food produced is wasted, and yet one in nine people in the world don’t have enough to eat. Even if you’re not one of the people who is simply allergic to throwing away good food, then feeding the hungry and protecting the planet are good enough reasons to help fix the problem.

Wasted food accounts for a massive eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s partly because of the emissions associated with making the food, and partly because any uneaten food that ends up in landfill releases even more emissions.

And that concern is driving change. “Some of the top culprits of food that ends up in our bins are potatoes, bread, bananas, milk and bags of leafy greens and herbs. I think the reason why we waste so much of these ingredients is because most of them are purchased in bulk,” says low-waste chef and author Max La Manna. His top food hacks?

“If a carrot or a cucumber or a courgette goes soft and limp, you can chop it up, place it in a jar of water and it should crisp right back up. I’ve done this with salad leaves as well. A stale loaf of bread you could run underneath water. Place it in the microwave or in an oven on a low setting, and the loaf of bread should come back to life. Or blitz it up in a food processor and put it in your freezer to have breadcrumbs for later.”

Skipping meat one day a week is another small food hack with a big impact. In fact, it’s the equivalent of taking a car off the road for five weeks. Go meat-free for two days a week, and the numbers really start to add up. 

Stick with your sustainability hacks

By incorporating easy yet impactful hacks like these into our daily routines, we can all play a part in living greener lives. Think about what you do regularly or use a lot of in your daily life and see if you can find more eco-friendly alternatives. Find the sustainability hacks that work for you – and keep doing them.

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