With the environment on the fritz, many people are looking for ways they can live in a more eco-friendly manner. And they don’t want to just look the part — they want to do things that will actually have an impact. 

Some of these changes may be large, like installing new tech, but some are small, like biking instead of driving. The more people who make these changes, the more they will help. So if you want to do your part for the environment, here are five ways to live a more eco-conscious life. 

fruits spilling out of a mesh grocery bag

1. Install Solar Panels

When it comes to being more eco-conscious, installing solar panels is one of the most significant steps you can take. Solar power is a renewable energy source: The sun itself isn’t going anywhere, and solar panels last for about 25-30 years. By generating more of your own energy from a renewable source, you’ll decrease your dependency on the electric grid. Since most electricity from the U.S. grid comes from fossil fuels, you’ll reduce your carbon emissions by using solar instead. 

Investing in solar is becoming cheaper and cheaper with every passing year. This is especially true if you plan to live in your current home for at least 10 years. You’ll spend less every month on your electricity bills by making more of your own. And in most states, if you generate excess solar electricity, you can profit by sending that surplus back to the grid. A solar installation will slash your electric bill, your grid dependency, and, most importantly, your fossil fuel emissions.

2. Use Alternative Transportation

Americans love their cars, but the environment sure doesn’t. In 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that vehicles produced nearly 75% of carbon monoxide emissions in the United States. So if you really want to live a more eco-conscious life, think about how you can travel differently.

Many people can cut back on their emissions by changing the way they commute to work or school. Instead of driving by yourself, carpool with a peer or use the bus, train, or another form of public transit. If you live close enough to your destination, walk or bike rather than use a motor vehicle at all. If you live far away and need to drive, consider investing in an electric vehicle or a hybrid one. Fossil fuel emissions from vehicles take a heavy toll on the environment, so do your utmost to cut back on yours. 

3. Cut Out Single-Use Plastics

Using common single-use plastics is the antithesis of being environmentally conscious. Plastic is a form of pollution that wreaks havoc on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It chokes, smothers, and otherwise maims and kills wildlife. And as plastic deteriorates, toxic chemicals disperse into waterways, poisoning plants, animals, and humans alike.

That means one of the best ways to live a more eco-conscious life is to reduce your use of plastic, especially the single-use kind. As you can tell from the name, single-use plastics are designed to be used just once and then thrown away. Plastic straws and water bottles may be convenient, but that convenience has a high price. Anticipate your needs ahead of time and tote your own reusable items, like water bottles and metal straws. It’s hard to overstate plastic’s negative impact on the environment and how much you can help by not using it.

4. Be Mindful of Water Consumption

As the planet continues to warm, potable freshwater sources are drying up. Even in the driest of deserts, water is the lifeblood of so many ecosystems. So as this fundamental resource becomes ever scarcer, conserving it becomes increasingly important. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways you can do so on a daily basis.

One of the most effective is simply taking shorter showers. Limit your shower to five minutes or less, and turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth, too. You can also save water by being more mindful when doing the dishes. Install a water-saving dishwasher or fill up your sink basin with hot, soapy water instead of letting the tap run. With water becoming an increasingly precious resource, conserving it is critical. 

5. Plant Pollinator Plants

Pollinator insects are a fundamental part of the food chain that is under threat from climate change. As bees, butterflies, and other pollinators struggle to survive, entire ecosystems can collapse around them. So efforts to preserve their habitats create chain reactions that ripple through the environment as a whole. The good news is that it’s fairly simple, cheap, and even beautiful to help them. 

Why beautiful? Because the best way to enable pollinators to thrive is to plant the plants they enjoy pollinating. There are tons of different species that pollinators love. Most of them, like sage, dogwood, lavender, and cosmos, smell and look lovely. Sunflowers are a particularly simple plant to grow that does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to pollinator preservation. Consider growing and maintaining a pollinator garden as part of your eco-conscious lifestyle. 

There Are Eco-Friendly Opportunities All Around You

When it comes to living a more eco-friendly life, there are areas of opportunity everywhere. We haven’t even touched on composting — not to mention composting toilets. The environmentally conscious recommendations in this article are only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to help the planet on a daily basis. You just need to get creative!