Despite having a reputation as one of the country’s greenest states, California is the source of massive amounts of waste. With a population of nearly 40 million people, California dumps over 12,000 tons of plastic into landfills daily. This may come as a surprise, especially when you consider the high recycling rate of cities like San Francisco. The reality is, there’s much more to living life sustainably in California than recycling your plastic bottles.
Reducing your carbon footprint while living in California doesn’t have to be complicated. To help you live more sustainably, we’ve created a guide that covers how to compost, how to create a zero-waste kitchen, and much more. That said, the core topics we’ll be covering include:
- What is sustainable living?
- Sustainable living ideas: 7 ways to be a greener Californian
- 10 resources for living sustainably in California
Let’s start with the most important question of all - what does it mean to live sustainably?
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living is a term used to describe a philosophy and lifestyle that aims to reduce one’s environmental impact. This is typically achieved by reducing your usage of the planet’s natural resources and finding more eco-friendly methods of transportation, meal preparation, and more.
Though this term is frequently used to reference people’s personal lifestyle choices, it’s also appropriate for people advocating for societal change. It should be noted that different states have different regulations in regards to things like recycling and composting. California compost law, for example, will be introducing fines for people who dispose of their organic waste incorrectly. These sorts of laws are introduced to encourage sustainable living on a societal scale.
Sustainable living ideas: 7 ways to be a greener Californian
Becoming a greener Californian might be easier than you think. Investing in technologies to reduce waste, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy electric cars. There are plenty of low-cost ways to lessen your dependency on non-renewable resources. Whether you live in Santa Clarita, San Diego, or somewhere in Northern California, these ideas will help you begin to transform your lifestyle.
1. Invest in sustainable products
We all purchase things that are wasteful or otherwise problematic to the environment without realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to actively seek out companies and businesses in California that follow sustainability practices and are committed to using ethical labor and eco-friendly materials. There are businesses in the state and online that sell sustainable alternatives for beauty products, clothing, cleaning supplies, footwear, and just about anything else you can think of.
Actions like buying nontoxic nail polish or avoiding a fast fashion store are not insignificant. To truly combat climate change will take widespread reforms, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the power you have as a consumer. By choosing to invest in things like quality eco-friendly appliances and sustainably made clothing, you’re uplifting and supporting brands that could change their respective industries.
Pro tip: If you’d like to purchase clothing made from ethical brands in California, check out this helpful list of stores based in Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond.
2. Have a greener household
Living a more sustainable lifestyle starts at home! If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll need to make changes around your home. Whether you live in an apartment or a house that’s a million square feet, there are ways to lower your energy consumption. This doesn’t mean you have to get onto the roof to install solar panels. Simply swapping out your bulbs with more energy-efficient LED light bulbs can make a meaningful difference.
There are many other ways to create a more eco-friendly household. Do your best to recycle batteries, old phones, and other items that are considered e-waste. If you have trouble managing the temperature in your home, think about having your windows replaced to create a tighter seal. This will result in less cool air escaping your home, which lessens your reliance on your air conditions.
Pro tip: Leaky faucets may seem harmless, but they result in needless amounts of water waste. When you spot a leaky faucet, repair it or call an expert to fix it as soon as you can.
3. Avoid plastic products
If you’re looking for ways to improve the well being of our beautiful mother earth, you need to avoid plastic, single-use products as much as possible. These plastic products, whether they be plastic cutlery or water bottles, take so much energy to create and take hundreds of years to break down. Single-use bottles are particularly problematic, as Americans use approximately 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. Californians are unfortunately no exception.
These water bottles, and other single-use plastics, end up taking space in landfills and polluting our oceans. Thankfully, we don’t need these products to get by. There are so many fantastic alternatives out there for our most popular plastic items. There’s reusable bottles and shopping bags, metal straws, bamboo containers, and so much more.
Pro tip: Not sure where to start looking for sustainable alternatives to plastic products? Check out our list of the best sustainable kitchen products that you can buy online today.
4. Reduce food waste with Lomi
Knowing how and where to compost your organic waste is key to achieving a sustainable lifestyle. If you don’t know how to compost in Los Angeles, there are plenty of options available to you. You could rely on curbside green bins, community composting programs, or nearby composting facilities. That said, the easiest and fastest way to dispose of your food waste is with Lomi.
Lomi is an electric composter that fits on your counter. Using heat, abrasion, and oxygen, this compact and quiet device can convert your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich dirt in a matter of hours. You can then use this dirt to nourish your plants or simply dispose of it outside.
Pro tip: Lomi can break down more than just food waste. However, you should also ensure an item is Lomi Approved before inserting it into your electric composter.
5. Live in a sustainable green community
If you’re ready to go beyond small steps, you could consider moving to one of the many sustainable living communities in California. These green communities are planned and built to promote sustainable living in regards to both the environment and the economy. California has plenty of these green communities, including Esperanza, Miralon, Heritage Placer Vineyards, and many more. Please note, these sustainable communities are often intended for older adults and retirees.
You’ll find lots of great amenities in California’s sustainable green communities. Esperanza, a 55+ active adult community, offers a swimming pool, pickleball, a dog park, a community garden, and other features that encourage a healthy and outdoorsy lifestyle. Communities like Miralon also have a list of impressive amenities, along with an impressive amount of green space and gardens that offer farm-to-table produce.
Pro tip: These communities are not exactly alike. Take the time to learn about the qualities that set them apart, like their amenities, their walkability, and the price of homes.
6. Find alternatives for paper products
Plastics aren’t the only problematic products. There are plenty of single-use paper products you should be avoiding as well, like napkins and paper towels. These items only take weeks to break down, so many assume they don’t have a negative impact on the environment. The reality is, a great deal of energy and resources are spent creating these products, packaging them, and transporting them across the country.
Instead of buying disposable paper products, spend your money on cloth alternatives. Cloth napkins and reusable towels will last far longer than disposable products. This makes them less wasteful and much more affordable in the long run.
Pro tip: Though not reusable, bamboo plates are a great replacement for paper plates. They’re biodegradable, plus bamboo is considered a renewable resource.
7. Reuse and repurpose containers
One of the simplest ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle is to reuse and repurpose containers. When you buy something that’s packaging in a tin or jar of some sort, try to think up creative ways to reuse them! There are plenty of fun ways to repurpose jars. You could use them as storage for seeds, create a terrarium, make your own candles, and so much more.
A very practical way of repurposing these containers is to use them for food storage. Aside from being visually appealing, jars are great for food storage because of their tight seal. This is an innovative way to reduce food waste without spending any money or expending any energy.
Pro tip: You can also use these containers to transport food with you to work or when traveling!
10 resources for living sustainably in California
The guide above offers everything you need to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. That said, there are countless other ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re passionate about sustainability, we encourage you to check out the amazing resources below.
- Trash is for Tossers: Though not terribly active today, this YouTube channel has a great catalog of videos about zero-waste alternatives to everyday products.
- 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste: Kathryn Kellogg’s accessible guide to waste reduction offers practical advice for responsible consumption and various DIY tips and recipes.
- 30 Best Zero-Waste Kitchen Products For a Sustainable Home: This is one of our most informative blogs for anyone that wants to create a zero-waste kitchen. With these products, you can make your kitchen a much more sustainable place.
- The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide: Jen Gale’s guide offers tons of easy and straightforward tips for living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. With this book, you’ll reexamine the ways that you work, travel, and buy food.
- Eco Warrior Princess: Founded in 2010 by activist and farm owner Jennifer Nini, this blog covers a wide range of topics like environmental issues, eco beauty, and green energy.
- Melanin & Sustainable Style: This platform, founded by environmental justice advocate Dominique Drakeford, focuses on the intersection between the experiences of communities of color and sustainability. On this blog, you’ll find content discussing climate change, fast fashion, eco-friendly brands owned by people of color, and much more.
- Sustainable Kitchen: Sustainable Kitchen is a recipe book created by dieticians with backgrounds in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and homesteading. These recipes aim to reduce harm to our bodies and the planet.
- Can I Recycle This?: If you don’t have much experience with recycling, you’ll find this guide by Jennie Romer to be an invaluable resource. With this guide, you’ll never have to question what you’re throwing into your recycling bin ever again.
- The Zero Waste Collective: This blog has so much informative content ranging from zero-waste recipes to fun DIY projects.
- My Plastic Free Life: Accountant and activist Beth Terry was inspired to start her blog when she learned about the destructive effects of plastic pollution. She’s written out 100 steps to help people join her in living a plastic-free life.
With these easy-to-implement tips and educational resources, you’re fully equipped to reduce your carbon footprint and live more sustainably in sunny California. Every step you take towards an eco-friendly lifestyle matters, whether you’re investing in an electric composter or swapping out your single-use products. These changes can go a long way to improving the state’s air quality, ensuring the landfills don’t overflow, and much more.
Written by: E Sawden