The Complete Guide to Sustainable Living in 2022

complete guide to sustainable living 2022

According to a recent survey, almost 9 out of 10 adults around the world want a more sustainable future.1 That’s fantastic! And if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them. (If you’re the odd one out, well, um… keep reading! Maybe we’ll convince you!)

While some of that change might come about through policy or large corporations, it’s important to recognize our own impact and how we can make a difference. 

Our blogs are full of tips to be more eco-friendly, but if you want to make the biggest impact with your actions in 2022, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. 

The Big Three: Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture

For the average American, these three areas make up the majority of your greenhouse gas emissions. 

And focusing on these will make the most impact on reducing your carbon footprint and living a more sustainable life. 

How To Travel Sustainably

By “travel” we don’t just mean your long-distance vacation plans, we mean your daily transportation to work, school, and the grocery store. 

Travel accounts for nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.A.2 That’s a higher percentage than most of the world because of our heavy reliance on personal cars and air travel rather than public transportation like buses and trains. 

Tackling Your Transportation Emissions

Our personal cars make up 58% of the U.S. transportation emissions.3

That makes it one of the most impactful places to reduce your carbon footprint (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves!).

If you drive to work or school every day, see if you can find coworkers or other students to carpool with. Ask your company about telework opportunities or alternative work schedules. Working from home one day a week or moving to four, 10-hour days will cut your car emissions by 20% for the year. Driving with a buddy will cut both your emissions by 50%. 

Public transportation is even better, since you’re sharing the emissions with more people. Of course, man-powered (walking or cycling) will cut your emissions to zero! 

The industry of eco-friendly transportation is booming with possibilities. Electric cars and e-bikes are becoming more and more affordable. City programs have made rent and return programs widely available for bikes, scooters, and more. And the post-pandemic job market is teeming with remote work opportunities. 

Think about what strategies might work best for your life to cut your travel carbon emissions in 2022.

How To Reduce Your Energy Consumption

reduce energy consumption with less screen time

While transportation takes the number one spot for carbon emissions in the U.S., electricity comes in at a close second. Overall, it accounts for approximately 35% of our annual greenhouse gasses.

Luckily there are a multitude of ways you can reduce your energy consumption in the home: 

This isn’t just about what’s between your walls. Insulating windows and doors with proper seals to eliminate drafts can make a big difference in your energy consumption. This can also be achieved with heavy curtains, and opening and closing your blinds seasonally. Let the sun shine in the winter to naturally heat the air, and keep it shaded in the summer. 

Unplugging electronics or using surge protectors:
If your electronics are plugged in, they still pull energy – even if you aren’t actively using them! They call this standby effect “phantom draw” and it is estimated to contribute 10% of your energy bill each month.4 

It only takes a second to plug in the toaster before you pop it on each morning, and you can save money as well as electricity by unplugging between uses. If your outlets are hard to reach, try using a surge protector and flipping it off, which will have a similar effect. 

Swap out for LED lights:
LED lights use 75% less energy than regular light bulbs, and even though they cost a bit more in the store, they will last up to 25x longer, saving you a lot of money in the long run. 

Reduce hot water consumption:
There are several ways to do this. One easy way is to adjust the temperature on your water heater so it’s several degrees lower. Shorter showers, low volume shower heads, and washing laundry in cold water are also excellent ways to cut back your hot water consumption. 

Keep your HVAC tuned:
Use less AC by getting your HVAC unit serviced regularly and replacing your air filters more frequently. If your unit is struggling to draw air and push it around the house, it will use more energy to do so. Overhead fans and proper air circulation will also reduce your need for AC. 

Reduce your screen time:
Simply reducing your screen time will also put a dent in your energy consumption, and it has added benefits of better mental health and more time for other hobbies. Taking some time to get outside and reconnect with nature will not only reduce your energy consumption, it will also remind you why you’re making all these eco-friendly changes in the first place!

New technology has made it easier than ever to be eco-friendly in your house. Programmable thermostats, energy star appliances, and “water-save” or “eco-mode” functions have put energy saving features at the touch of a button. 

How To Lower Your Agricultural Impact

reduce agricultural carbon footprint

Agricultural impact isn’t an area that a lot of people focus on because it’s more difficult to see the direct link to your carbon footprint. But agriculture makes up a full 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.2

To lower your agricultural carbon footprint, just take a look at your diet. And don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like you can do all of this. Focus on one or two that fit your lifestyle and stick with it. It all makes a difference. 

Going meatless or dairy-free
You don’t have to go full-on vegan to make an impact here. Just choosing to eat less meat or switching to alternative milk instead of cow milk can have a big impact. Added bonus: meat and dairy alternatives typically last much longer than their animal counterparts, so you’ll be reducing your food waste as well.  

Choose sustainable seafood
Our oceans are suffering from overfishing and plastic pollution. It’s difficult to give sweeping recommendations on what seafood is or isn’t sustainable, so we recommend using a guide when you go shopping. Search for specific options with Seafood Watch or print out their wallet guide. 

Support locally-grown
Reducing the distance your food travels before it gets to you will reduce the carbon footprint of your dietary habits. Try shopping at the local farmer’s market or check your grocery store for a local produce section. 

For centuries humans had to eat only what was in-season, but widespread greenhouses and long-distance cargo transports have brought us an astonishing assortment of out-of-season produce all year long. 

Eating with the season reduces transportation emissions and reduces the energy it takes to produce the food (because plants need less nurturing and produce more when they grow naturally). Bonus: in-season produce tastes better and is more nutritious. 

Choose organic 
This is especially true for certain foods that are known for their heavy pesticide use. The “Dirty Dozen,” as they are called, include many soft fruits like strawberries, raspberries, peaches, and cherries, but also leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. 

We’ve never had more options when it comes to sustainable eating than we do now. The variety of nut and soy milks on the shelves continue to grow. Meat alternatives like plant-based burgers use roughly 20% of the resources compared to animal products, and they’re now in nearly every restaurant! 

The Future Is Green

We have more resources than ever before to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. And more and more people are interested in making those changes. 

If your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint in 2022, focusing on the big three will make the most impact. 

Not sure where to start? Check out our Complete Guide to Sustainable Living 2021 for instructions on how to conduct an energy audit, or take control of your trash. 

And finally, talk to your friends and family about making eco-friendly choices for our future. The more we share solutions the more we can all work together for a greener tomorrow. Click below to share our blog on social media and commit to reducing your carbon footprint!