5 ways to make every day more sustainable

Making your life more sustainable doesn’t need to be a big change. Little changes can help save you money on food, electricity and gas.

There are a number of little changes that you can make around the home that not only help you be more environmentally friendly and sustainable, but will also likely save you money on food, electricity and gas.

Swap light bulbs.

In recent years, light bulbs have gotten smarter as well as more efficient. Switching to LED light bulbs is a simple solution that could help reduce your energy bill, and is supported by government initiatives in Victoria and South Australia in the form of rebates and subsidies. LED bulbs do tend to be a little more expensive, but considering that they last longer and use less energy, this is a small hurdle to jump and will save you money in the long run.

Mike Dieterich of Renew and Sustain Consulting suggests that over 2000 burn hours a year, normal light bulbs can cost $13.35 per fixture, while LEDs are closer to $1.87. That’s a saving of 86 per cent, and halogen bulbs will burn out 15 times before you need to replace one LED bulb.

Replace old appliances.

Replacing old appliances can really cut your power bills and your environmental impact. Newer appliances tend to be between 60 to 80 per cent more efficient than appliances that are 10 or more years old.

Of course, we’re all prone to holding onto things like fridges and washing machines if they still work, but after a few unexpected bills, they could be more trouble than they’re worth – make sure you check the energy star rating when you buy, too – more stars mean more efficiency over the long run.

Grow a garden.

Growing your own fruit and vegetables sounds like a big job, especially if you don’t have a green thumb, but you don’t need to landscape your whole yard to fit a supermarket sized veggie pile: you can start as small as a pot on the window sill with a few choice herbs.

We’ve all bought herbs from the supermarket that have wilted in the fridge before they’ve had the opportunity to add flavour to your next superdish, and had to settle for something else.

Having a few plants that grow quietly and will be there when you need them means less hassle and wastage, but just as much flavour when you need it.

Compost.

Composting is a great way to keep your garden healthy, but also cut down the amount of waste that gets taken away each week.

And it’s simple. Get a plastic compost bin, set it up in a sunny spot near your garden and collect any plants and vegetables that you would usually throw in the bin and put them into the compost. Once it’s done, you can get it into the garden and start saving on water – according to Washington State University, just a 5 per cent increase in “organic material quadruples soils water holding capacity”.

Ride a bike to work.

The commute can be a drag for many – nobody’s ever opted to be stuck in traffic or wedged between two people on a crowded tram – but getting on your bike can have both sustainability and fitness benefits.

Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads suggests that “cycling 10 km each way to work would save 1500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year”. Getting fit and saving the planet? It’s a no brainer.