Sustainability trends and sustainable lifestyle changes may end up shaping this century. They’re trickling into every aspect of our life. You can now see more solar panels on roofs, less single-use plastic water bottles and more eco-friendly grocery tote bags on people’s shoulders.
Are you looking to join in the movement, but you aren’t quite sure where to start?
To get started, we’ll first share with you some important sustainability facts. These include some fascinating facts about sustainability practices along with how much each of these aspects can help the planet.
The most surprising energy fact is that light alone uses around 15% of global electricity and 5% of total greenhouse gases. If everyone started to use energy-efficient light bulbs or LEDs instead of regular ones, energy use would be reduced by 90%, and 114 billion dollars would be saved every year!
Also, one recycled can of aluminum saves enough energy to run a television for three continuous hours. Americans alone use over 80 billion aluminum cans annually (wow!).
50% of American consumers have access to energy-efficient resources. However, only a small percentage make use of them, unfortunately.
In addition, washing clothes with warm water causes a huge energy loss. 80% of the energy goes into water heating alone. This is interesting to think about, especially since cold water will actually clean your clothes just as well!
Another energy fact is that people who leave their computers on overnight contribute to 9 million tons of carbon dioxide wasted annually! In fact, Dell has been saving 1.8 million dollars each year by implementing an automatic sleep setting.
Although 70% of the Earth is water, only 1% of it is available for human use. Additionally, we’re using a lot more water than we need.
The average American family alone uses nearly 300 gallons of water each day. 70% of this is indoor water use, with showers contributing to 2 gallons per minute, toilets contributing to 3 gallons per flush, and washing machines using 15 gallons, as a few examples.
The rate of our water usage is two times the rate at which the population is growing. It can easily be cut by 45% if more people use water-efficient fixtures.
Vegans also help cut this rate of water usage. One vegan can contribute to saving 219,000 gallons of water annually. This is mainly because the water footprint of vegan foods is 8 times less than that of beef.
That being said, you can contribute to reducing nearly 70% of agricultural emissions by eating more of a plant-based/vegan diet (without having to commit to going fully vegan if you can’t.)
Although Americans are only 4% of the world population, they’re responsible for nearly 30% of the world’s trash.
Most of this trash is plastic, which is dangerous for the planet for many reasons. Fossil hydrocarbons go into the manufacturing process of plastic. They’re non-biodegradable and have a large impact on climate change.
For example, a plastic bag will take up to a thousand years before decomposing, accounting for a lot of marine deaths in the process.
Additionally, when food waste decomposes in landfills, it emits methane gas, which is more harmful than carbon dioxide in the long term. Despite this, nearly 50% of global waste is food waste.
Another fascinating fact about waste is that one ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 682 gallons of oil, 2.5 cubic meters of land, 4,100 kWh of energy, and 7,000 gallons of water! Plus, 25% fewer gas emissions are produced.
General Sustainability Facts
In the past 5 decades, we’ve consumed more resources than our predecessors did in all of history.
Additionally, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted from the process of delivering junk mail in the U.S annually is equivalent to that of 9 million cars! To lower your junk mail and increase your sanity, be sure to check out this guide on how to opt out from the FTC.
That’s not the only questionable sustainability fact about the U.S. Although nearly 2,000 chemical elements go into textile processing, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only approves of 16!
On a brighter note, nearly 90% of glass products in the United States today are from recycled glass, which contributes to lower pollution rates.
And a fun fact: switching your computer font from Arial to Times New Roman or Century Gothic will save up to 30% on ink when printing!
Live More Sustainably With These Simple Tips
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you want to see a greener world, you can start with making these small personal changes.
One person can do more to change than you think. We’ll show you these easy ways to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.
Easy Short-term Solutions
You can start taking these steps right now. Thankfully, you don’t need to apply huge changes to your lifestyle. Starting with these simple steps is a great way to reduce any eco-overwhelm.
Energy is the primary contributor to climate change that’s threatening our planet. It’s the cause of 60% of greenhouse gases emitted globally.
You can reduce this rate by taking simple steps. For starters, turning off the lights and appliances you’re not currently using will save energy and reduce your utility bills.
Secondly, installing energy-efficient fixtures in your house is a simple step for reducing energy consumption. In the U.S., look for appliances with the Energy Star logo when shopping for new items.
Managing your appliances to be more sustainable is an easy step that doesn’t require any add-ons. For example, if you have an adjustable thermostat, you can program it to lower and raise the temperature when you’re not home.
Stop the Single-use Items
Single-use plates, forks, cups, and bags are everywhere. I know that it’s easier to use it once and throw it away without the need to clean it for reuse, but have you thought about the harm of these plastic versions on the environment?
Plastic waste accounts for many toxins in our air today. Even organic waste has an impact on the climate.
You can prevent a lot of damage by investing in reusable items instead. Before purchasing, think about the item’s lifespan and whether it’ll end in the trash after you use it.
For example, you can use a tote bag over and over for groceries, rather than the usual plastic bag that can only be used once.
Go for Local Foods
This isn’t too surprising, but importing products consumes a massive amount of fossil fuel energy in the transportation process.
While you can’t prevent this alone, you can choose not to be a part of it. Instead, buy your food at local farmer’s markets and choose brands that manufacture their goods in your state or region.
Aside from the environmental contribution, you’ll also be promoting local goods, which is beneficial for the economy.
If you can convince the people around you to do the same, it will have an even greater positive effect.
Give Your Car a Break
From time to time, giving your car a break and depending on other transportation means is a good idea. It’ll lower your fuel consumption, which reduces the harmful gases expelled into the air. On top of that, it’ll increase your car’s life expectancy.
You can use public transportation instead. It still consumes fuel, but the fuel-efficiency of a full bus is six times greater than that of a car.
Riding a bike and walking are also excellent alternatives not only for the planet but for your own health as well.
Stop Buying Bottled Water
It’s crazy how much harm just one plastic bottle can inflict on the environment. Bottled water is responsible for millions of tons of plastic waste annually, with much of it not being recycled.
There’s a false claim that bottled water is always safer than tap water. However, when you look at its sources, you’ll find out that it’s most likely filled by your local water supplier!
If there’s one “positive” about bottled water, it’s that it often tastes better than tap water. You can easily solve this issue by installing a home filtering system and use refillable water bottles (here are our personal favorites.)
I’ve personally been using my Berkey water filter for years and find it to be the best-tasting filtered water I’ve had. I highly recommend it if you can splurge a bit on your filtration set-up.
These solutions will take more effort on your part, but they have a larger impact on the ecosystem.
Donate Reusable Items
Extending the life of items has a positive influence on the environment. By doing this, you reduce the items’ chance of ending up in landfills.
You can do this by donating any items you no longer use, such as clothes and children’s toys, as opposed to throwing them away.
Save Household Water Use
You can easily reduce the amount of water you use by installing water-efficient appliances. For example, there are eco-friendly washers that use the minimum amount of water. Plus, you can consider dual-flush toilets and water-saving shower heads.
If you don’t want to pay the extra money, you can take the regular precautions, such as taking shorter showers and turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth.
Want more water saving tips? We have a whole article just for you: Reducing Personal Water Usage: 6 Tips to Slow the Flow.
Search for Flying Alternatives
Like it or not, flying emits the most carbon dioxide out of all forms of transportation. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can choose to travel by train or bus instead.
If you manage to do this when traveling between states (or even countries), you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by a significant amount.
Reduce Paper Use
You can reduce your paper use step by step until you’re used to living with much less of it.
You’d be surprised how easy this is nowadays, taking into consideration the luxuries our generation has. For starters, you can use your phone notes to take meeting minutes, instead of using paper notes.
You can also scan your paperwork on your smartphone to and go digital, and lastly, you can send out digital invitations instead of paper ones.
If there’s one thing we all can agree on, it’s that making sustainable swaps and changes can change our lives for the better in the long run. It will protect our health and give future generations the chance to live in a much cleaner environment.
All of these sustainability facts may feel overwhelming at first, but breathing in cleaner air and living a healthier lifestyle will be well worth the effort!
What sustainable living tips would you add? Please let us know in the comments below!
This post was originally published on August 23, 2020 and updated on April 22, 2023.