18 Green Living Ideas (that Save Green too!)

Wanting to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle but overwhelmed by where to start? Looking to implement some simple, sustainable living habits? Green living has been a passion of mine for decades and I have tried dozens of tactics over the years with my family at home. Here are my all-time most successful and easy green living ideas that will save you green too!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Eat More Plant-based Meals

eat more plants to go greener at home

One of the most effective ways to help our planet is to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Animal agriculture produces more green house gases than the entire transportation sector globally. In addition, it uses up precious resources like water and land. For example, it takes 666 gallons of water to produce a 1/3 lb. beef burger; beans require about 1/10 of that to produce. For reference, a shower utilizes about 17 gallons of water (so consuming 1 burger uses as much water as 39 showers).

So consider starting with a small step, like switching to one plant-based meal per week. This small step is a HUGE WIN for the planet, the animals, and your health.

Green Living Ideas: Shop at Farmers’ Markets

green living idea: shop at the farmer's market
photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

When we buy local, we reduce our food’s carbon footprint significantly through minimizing transportation and packaging. The food is also fresher and more nutritious than store bought food because it was picked within a day or so. Plus, it can actually be a FUN family activity (unlike the grocery store) and one of the most enjoyable green living ideas!

Join Buy Nothing or Other “Gift Economy”

Buy Nothing

Buy Nothing is an international project with a mission to offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors. Twenty-five thousand members-strong with over 150 groups in four countries, there is a decent chance Buy Nothing exists near you.

And if not, you can start a chapter! Buy Nothing is generally accessed via a local Facebook group, but the founders are very supportive of using other platforms as well.

Speaking from experience, Buy Nothing is AWESOME! I have been able to gift items that may have otherwise gone in the trash, such as used toys, food, clothing, shoes, dishes, an old sewing machine, art supplies, and more. Plus, the few times I have asked for specific items to avoid purchasing new (like plastic storage containers), I have received! And finally, I have snagged a few surprise treasures along the way as well, like my rice cooker.

Seriously, Buy Nothing is an enjoyable way to go greener at home.

Shop Secondhand Clothing/Home Decor

Pre-shop your favorite consignment store on Instagram!

The fashion industry leaves a huge carbon footprint, and trends over the beginning of the 21st century show that consumers buy more garments and keep them for less time…aka fast fashion.

Luckily, the secondhand clothing industry is growing exponentially these days, with sales expected to triple in the next decade! And I can speak from personal experience when I say that it’s all about finding a secondhand store (or two) that have similar taste/style to you and frequenting them regularly. An awesome consignment store opened in our town last year, and for the first time in twenty years, I now shop secondhand regularly (and consign my old clothes there too!).

Recycle Clothing that can’t be donated

Did you know that you can recycle old clothing and shoes and avoid the landfill? Organizations like Recycle for Change are making real change environmentally, socially, and economically by either finding a way to reuse materials or else recycling clothing and other textiles.

Look for a bin in your community or do a quick search for options in your area.

Reusable Food & Kitchen Accessories

Silicon Snack Bags & Stainless Steel Containers

reusable snack bags are one of the other easy green living ideas
silicon snack bags
school snacks in stainless steel containers

Swap plastic bags and pre-packaged snacks for healthier and more sustainable choices like silicon or stainless steel containers.

Resisting the urge to buy pre-packaged, single-serving snacks can be tough, but is so beneficial. Most obviously, it avoids extra packaging waste. Second, I notice that I tend to pack healthier, less processed snacks (like fruit, dried fruit, popcorn, nuts, etc.) when packing them myself vs. grabbing something pre-packaged from the pantry. Third, it’s easier to save the rest for later if unfinished. Finally, it often saves money when you buy the product in bulk and divide yourself.

For reusable snack bags, we love these silicon sandwich bags and assorted size silicon bags.

For stainless steel containers, we use a variety: rectangle containersround containers, and small bento boxes.

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Swedish Dish Towels

go greener at home with Swedish dish clothes
clean surfaces with reusable Swedish dish towels

In addition to drying dishes, consider using reusable towels to clean kitchen surfaces too. If your household is anything like mine, there is a load of laundry to run nearly every day, so throwing these dirty towels in with an existing wash shouldn’t require extra loads. These Swedish dish towels are my favorite for cleaning counters and other surfaces.

Silicon Baking Sheets

One of my favorite new green kitchen hacks for this year are these silicon baking mats! Gone are the days of single use aluminum foil and parchment paper– YAY!

Plus, these sheets are great cutting board liners for foods that stain, like beets!

Silicon Lids

silicon lid, one of the easiest green living ideas to implement at home
cover dishes with silicon lids

In addition, we used these silicon lids to cover leftovers and other food instead of foil or plastic wrap. They are easy to clean and literally last for years (I think mine are 8 years old and counting!).

Reusable Food Wrap

reusable food wrap
reusable food wrap

For covering produce, cheese, wrapping sandwiches and other refrigerated items, I like to use reusable food wrap instead of foil or plastic wrap. Also simple to clean with soap and water, these wraps last for months.


reusable napkins are one of the awesome conscious gifts for the kitchen and one of the easiest green living ideas too
cloth napkins

Reusable napkins are critical to eco-friendly everyday dining. Whether you have young kids or not, I recommend dark colored and patterned or striped cloth napkins to disguise stains and wrinkles. Throw them into any load of laundry, just like kitchen towels.

Reusable Coffee Filters

green living ideas: reusable coffee filters

Reusable coffee filters are an easy way to minimize daily kitchen waste. Simply scoop out used coffee grounds into compost bin, rinse filter with water, and place back in coffee maker. An assortment of filters to fit every coffee maker are available these days!

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Buy Ugly Produce!

imperfect produce, one of the simple green living ideas

Did you know that 40% of food goes uneaten in America. A big reason for this is that farmers are unable to harvest and sell up to a third of their produce because it doesn’t look “perfect”. Although misshapen or blemished, the food is still perfectly delicious and nutritious. San Francisco-based Imperfect Foods combats food waste and enables fresh food accessibility across America. In addition to salvaging produce, the company offers shelf-stable groceries, dairy, meat, and alternatives. The company also focuses on enabling accessibility through a reduced cost box program, donating to food banks, and more.

To learn more about subscriptions and get $20 off your first order go to Imperfect Foods.

I can vouch from experience! My family as been receiving a biweekly Imperfect box since 2017 to supplement our farmers’ market and grocery hauls and have been incredibly impressed by the quality of product and the awesome customer service.

To read about Imperfect Food’s inspiring story, starting with a couple college kids determined to recover food wasted in their school cafeteria, check out my interview with them.

Use Cold Water while Waiting for the Hot

Waiting for the hot water is such a doozie—especially in drought-prone California. A plumbing fix may or may not be a solution for you (see next idea below).

However, it is fairly easy to use most of that cold water: watering plants (a great one for the bathroom faucets), filling the tea kettle/coffee pot, filling pots for boiling pasta or steaming food later in the day, or rinsing dishes that are going into the dishwasher. This same idea also applies to unused water: water leftover in cups or pots can be reused to water plants, etc.

Speed Up Hot Water

I recently learned that plumbing technology has evolved in recent years…and what was previously not possible now is in our wide single level home: instant hot water! A recirculator pump could be your answer too! I am so grateful that we asked our plumber again after years of waiting over a minute for hot water.

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Order a Compost Bin

We are fortunate here in the Bay Area to have green compost bins available for food scraps, soiled paper, and yard waste at little to no additional cost to the standard trash service. If you don’t have one already, contact your local utility company to inquire.

The most misplaced item? Wood. While branches and other yard waste go in the compost bin, wood from furniture, fences, and other treated wood can not be composted and should go in the trash bin.

Request a Larger Recycling Bin / Smaller Garbage Bin

extra large recycle bin, regular size compost bin, small garbage bin

Have you noticed that your recycling bin is often overflowing while your garbage bin is half empty? Nice work taking the time to sort and recycle!

If you can relate, it’s worth a call to your local utility company to check out your options. Here in that Bay Area, we can get an extra large recycle bin at no additional cost. Plus, we save almost 50% off our entire bill by switching to a half-size garbage bin!

The most misplaced item? Styrofoam. Even if marked as recyclable, in many places, styrofoam should be placed in the trash bin in most places, so check with your local utility.

I hope some of these tips resonated with you on your path to go greener at home. Please let me know what you try, and share your sustainable green living ideas too, in comments below.

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