10 ways to live more sustainably

We’re known to have a clean, green, environmentally sustainable country, but most Kiwis know that there’s still plenty of work to be done. 

That said, we’re not too shabby. We have been listed amongst the top 10 most eco-friendly countries in the world, and almost half of all Kiwis (43%) have said they are committed to living a sustainable lifestyle (a trend that is moving solidly upwards each year). 

So if you’re part of that 43% – or would like to be – here’s a little more about what it means to live sustainably, why we really should, and a few tips for making it happen. 

What is eco-living?

Eco living goes by many names; sustainable living, environmentally friendly living, or even net zero living. 

All of them generally mean the same thing. To live in a way that reduces or even removes your negative impacts on the planet and other living creatures. 

Essentially, it’s making choices every day that protect and preserve the environment. And there are countless decisions to be made, from taking public transport instead of a personal car, to using a refillable water bottle rather than buying a new plastic one each time. 

The importance of adopting sustainable practices 

Re-useable glass containers filled with dry pantry goods.

If you’ve seen the news any time in the past decade, you’re probably more than aware of the importance of doing everything we can to look after the environment. 

From the dangerous heat waves that hit the UK and Europe over summer to the realities of our glaciers melting within the next decade here in New Zealand Aotearoa, there are endless signs that climate change is having a disastrous impact around the world. 

By taking steps to live more sustainably, we’ll be moving towards doing everything we can to minimise, reduce, and maybe even stop these effects. 

10 tips for sustainable living 

Here are 10 ideas for living a more sustainable lifestyle. 

1. Carry your own containers, vessels, and bags

Do you often pick up takeaways, buy coffee out, or even take home leftovers from restaurants? By keeping your own containers and reusable cups with you (or in the car), you can reduce how many single-use containers and cups you use throughout the year. 

2. Grown your own 

Cut costs and the eco impact of buying herbs and veggies from the supermarket by growing your own sustainable vegetable garden

3. Reduce your water waste 

Conserve water wherever possible. For example, put a bucket in the shower to catch water as the shower is warming up, then use that water in the garden. Only ever use the dishwasher and washing machine with full loads, and put a timer in your shower to reduce how long you spend in there. 

4. Make your next car electric 

The next time you’re in the market for a new car, shop for electric – or at least a hybrid. It will cost more up front, but you’ll save on fuel and do your bit for the planet. 

5. Shop second hand 

Before heading to the mall for new clothes or appliances, make your first port of call the second-hand store. By giving items a new life, you’re reducing the consumption of new products. 

6. Try the Buycott app 

The Buycott app allows you to scan the barcode of certain items so you can learn about them and make more informed shopping decisions. For example, you can scan your face scrub and see if the brand uses harmful microbeads, and if it does, see recommendations for brands that don’t. 

7. Refill rather than repurchase 

Supermarkets and stores around the country are starting to offer refill stations. These stations allow you to refill all sorts of products, such as baking ingredients like flour and oats, and cleaning products such as hand soap and dishwashing liquid. Each time you refill, you save one more piece of packaging! 

8. Hire everything possible

From wedding dresses to power tools, there are plenty of products you can hire. Unless you plan on using it or wearing it regularly, hiring can save you money, can keep your home free of clutter, and can help to reduce the demand for products overall. 

9. Eat less red meat 

Colourful, healthy vegetables laid out on platters on a table.

We don’t all have to go vegan to help the environment – simply eating less meat can make a real difference. More than one study has shown that eating less red meat can greatly reduce emissions, so try switching up your diet to include more vegetarian meals, or at least fish and poultry instead of red meat whenever possible (don’t forget to check with your doc first). 

10. Plan an eco-friendly funeral 

Funerals are not traditionally designed to keep the environment in mind, but new practices are making it possible. You can plan an eco-friendly funeral by avoiding embalming, dressing in natural fabrics, using untreated timber for a coffin, and more.  

An eco-friendly farewell

Planning an eco-friendly funeral can be a beautiful final way to do your part for the environment, and you can help ensure your family don’t need to worry about the cost of your funeral and other final expenses with cover such as funeral insurance