This week’s guest post is brought to you by Emily over at Conservation Folks. Sustainable living is something I’ve wanted to incorporate more into Tiny Ambitions, so when Emily approached me for a guest post, I was delighted!
A wasteful lifestyle contributes to stress and anxiety, but adopting more sustainable living strategies could help put your mind at ease. It doesn’t mean giving up all your worldly possessions. Instead, sustainable living means having a lifestyle that fits within — not beyond — your financial and emotional needs.
Here are 10 sustainable living practices that can help reduce your stress
1. Grow Your Own Food
Whether you have a whole backyard or a few pots on your patio, growing your food can help you de-stress. Having a garden gives you access to your personal green space. And studies show that people have a reduced risk of depression if they live near parks and other green areas. Additionally, you’ll know exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown while reducing pollution from shipping commercially grown produce.
2. Ride Your Bike to Work
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where you can walk or bike to work, do so. This will get you exercising in fresh air, which can reduce stress levels. You’ll also avoid having to worry about traffic or parking during your commute. Unlike cars, bikes and feet don’t produce exhaust, so your travels will impact the earth much less.
3. Downsize Your Assets
Buying, storing and using too many things can contribute to stress. In the constant rush to keep up with the Joneses, you can lose sight of maintaining your mental health. Sort your things based on how often you use them. Donate or recycle the things you rarely or never use. If you find yourself needing to purchase something new, the Global Stewards’ 30-day challenge suggests trying to wait 30 days. You may find that you no longer need it.*
4. Recycle and Compost More
You could reduce your daily stress more by not having to lug large bags to your garbage bin multiple times a week. Simply getting into the habit of sorting your recyclables can reduce the amount of waste your home produces. If you compost organic matter, you’ll have rich food for your home garden, too.
5. Connect With Others
Not only can connecting with others help your mental health, but it can also improve your local environment. Engaging with your neighbors helps the community become more sustainable by working on local ecology and sustainability problems together. You’ll also build friendships you can turn to for your emotional wellbeing.
6. Reduce Energy Use
You’d be surprised by how much electricity you use without even thinking about it. Unplug appliances when not in use. Turn lights off when you leave the room, and invest in cooler, longer-lasting, energy-efficient LED light bulbs. Dry your clothes outside on a line. You’ll get fresh-smelling clothes and save on the cost of using a gas or electric dryer. By reducing your electric bills, you’ll have one less concern in your life.
7. Lower Water Consumption
As with lower electric bills, cheaper water bills can ease your financial stress. Only wash full loads of dishes or laundry. Consider installing a system to capture grey water or rainwater for your garden. Use one sink of water for washing dishes or invest in a high-efficiency dishwasher that does not require pre-rinsing the dishes and uses less water. Low-flow showerheads and toilets also reduce water use. You’ll never notice a difference, but you’ll save money.
8. Learn to Say No
No is a powerful word. Get into the habit of saying no to buying more things you don’t need, volunteering for activities that aren’t important to you or working late away from your family. Too many obligations can create stress, especially if they take you away from your friends and family. Too much life stress has been proven to negatively affect your health with increased rates of cancer, lung problems, heart conditions or suicide.
9. Quit Smoking
If you currently smoke, you know that you’re contributing to both air pollution and poor health. When you stop smoking, your body and pocketbook get healthier. By reducing your spending on cigarettes each month, you’ll save money and you also won’t incur the large health care bills in the future from cigarette-caused illnesses. Additionally, you’ll help keep the air cleaner for future generations.
10. Reduce Meat Intake
Imagine lowering your grocery bills and getting healthier. It’s possible by reducing the amount of meat in your diet. All types of meat require substantial amounts of resources to raise, slaughter, ship and prepare. By lowering the amount of meat in your diet, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Adopting a vegetarian or semi-vegetarian lifestyle could even make you healthier, and you’ll spend less on expensive meats at grocery stores and restaurants.*
*Note from Britt: always consult your physician before making any dietary changes.
Help Yourself and the Planet
Living sustainably helps you and the planet. Why wouldn’t you adopt a simpler lifestyle to reduce stress and anxiety while leaving a cleaner world for the future?
What’s your favourite sustainable living hack? Let me know in the comments!
Emily is a sustainability writer who covers topics in eco-friendly living, pollution, and minimalism. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.