Easy sustainability tips for beginners that you can carry out at home

8 August 2022

Nowadays everyone knows that sustainability is important. However, it can still be a challenge to contribute to a more sustainable environment. For example, I know pretty well that going to the market, second hand shopping and avoiding plastic would be beneficial, but I dare to say that I’m not the only person who still goes to Albert Heijn and Stradivarius. These are strong habits which are hard to change, because the supermarket is often closer to home and in fast-fashion shops you more often find the clothes you are looking for. Besides, when you’re new in Groningen you probably also don’t know all the spots in the city yet, which makes it easier to go to the bigger brands. In the end, these are all just excuses that actually come down to being lazy, I’m aware of that. But isn’t being aware the first step? In case you do want to improve your sustainable living, but find it hard to take the steps mentioned above (like me), here are several tips that you can easily carry out at home. Although some might be very obvious, there might also be some tips you have never thought of before, while they can certainly make a difference already!

Adjust your thermostat

Yes, this one is so obvious that it might not even be considered a tip, but as it’s so easy to do it’s still important to mention. Did you know that for every thermostat that is turned down, we save 6% energy and 6% CO2 emission? Knowing this, I would just grab that sweater from the closet and a blanket if necessary. Since we all have this at home and we have to start somewhere, this could be a very easy first step in contributing to the environment. Besides, turning down your thermostat will also result in less costs, which will either make you or your landlord happy. And a happy landlord is always a good idea, right?

Unplug and turn off devices as much as possible

Another very easy thing to do is unplugging. Electronic devices use energy when they are plugged in but aren't being used. By just unplugging devices that are not in use, such as your phone, laptop, coffee machine, microwave or television, you already contribute to sustainability. Besides, it helps when you really turn off certain devices instead of keeping them on stand-by. I know how easy it is to leave Netflix on while you are doing something else for a minute and might come back later, but isn’t it just as easy to turn the tv off and on again?

Decrease the brightness of your computer

This tip is either really obvious to you, or a real eye-opener. For me it was the latter. By decreasing the brightness of your computer monitor you can save up to 20% of the monitor's energy and less energy equals less strain on the environment. Although you might have to get used to a screen that is not that bright anymore, doing this is effortless. So unless you are almost blind (in that case maybe it’s smart to see an eye doctor?), what are you waiting for?

Hang your clothes outside to air

There are two ways in which this tip can be beneficial. First of all, consider airing your clothes outside before washing them. If there are no stains in your clothes, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary to throw them in the washing machine immediately. Often it’s not, and by airing your clothes outside you can still wear them, maybe even several times. On the other hand, when you do decide to (eventually) wash them, use the outside air to dry your clothes. Although many students probably don’t own a dryer, it’s still good to consider in case you do enjoy the luxury of having a dryer. Be aware that it really is a luxury, which is using extra energy while this is unnecessary.

Give your clothes a second (or even third) life

Again, there are multiple ways in which this can be done. Do you have damaged or ripped clothes? Then you could of course consider bringing them to a second hand shop. However, for this you have to leave the house and know where to bring them. Instead, you could also ask your mom, friend, aunt or grandmother whether they could fix the clothes, or whether they know someone who can do this for you. If you have done this but it’s no success, another option is to create cleaning cloths out of your damaged garment. In that case you also don’t have to buy these, which not only saves you money but also the effort of going to a store. 

Use the small button when flushing the toilet

Maybe not the most tasty tip to read about, but a good one to be aware of. Did you know that using the small button is often enough when flushing the toilet? Of course we all know what the two different buttons are for, but are these two really necessary? Often the answer is no. When you use the larger button you use six liter water, while you only use three when you use the smaller button. If you can save half of the amount of water by using the small button, I would say give it a try!

Hopefully you have come across some tips that will help you to set your first steps in creating a more sustainable life. As you have read, it doesn’t have to be that difficult, you can just contribute to a more sustainable environment while being at home! And again, you have to start somewhere. The cliche is true: every little bit helps!