Naysayers might argue sustainable living could never move the needle on monumental challenges like climate change and environmental pollution, but the data shows individual actions add up to massive impact.
If everyone around the world cut the food they waste in half, that alone would get us 15 percent of the way toward capping global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. If every American drove just 10 percent less, we'd avoid carbon emissions equivalent to shutting down 28 coal-fired power plants. And if just half of us chose to eat less meat — not zero meat, less meat — that's another 15 percent closer to the climate finish line, to name just a few examples of lifestyle shifts proven to make a big collective difference.
People say they're ready for this kind of change. But many aren't sure where to start, what shifts are actually helpful, and how to fit those shifts into their increasingly busy lives. Images of aesthetic zero-waste homes and pricey sustainable "swaps" floating around social media can easily leave us feeling like what we do will never be good enough, so there isn't much point in trying.
The good news is: That's completely bogus. Moving toward sustainable living doesn't have to be more expensive, or even more time-consuming, than what you're doing now. And if that new year's diet taught us anything, it's that all-or-nothing mindsets only set us up for failure and hold us back from what we can really do.
After rounding up a list of sustainable habits to try in 2024, and seeing the response from our community of readers, we found ourselves inspired to prove sustainable living can be easy, budget-friendly and fun (yes, fun!).
Join us all year for the Sustainable Living Challenge!
For the rest of the year, our staff of contributors will be trying out new-to-us sustainable living habits and sharing what we learn along the way. Finding easy ways to minimize food waste, trying out new modes of transportation like microtransit, and unlocking the impact potential of our 401(k) plans are just some of the sustainable shifts we're giving a go this year.
We invite our community of readers to take the Sustainable Living Challenge and join us as we adopt simple, accessible habits that reduce our personal footprints!
Every month will focus on a key theme — covering simple changes you can make at home, with your money, when you’re traveling, with your entertainment and when you’re shopping — and will feature tips, tricks, and personal experiences from our readers and writers.
We'll invite our community to follow along by choosing one or two things each month that feel realistic and attainable, no matter how big or small. And we'll follow up throughout the year, with the aim of incremental improvement and increasing ambition as we can.
It's all part of our new focus on solutions journalism and our aim to empower our community to be the solution in their own right. We'll kick off next week with Home Month, including budget-friendly ways to reduce energy, water and waste at home. Some things our team is committed to this month include:
- Saving our vegetable scraps for homemade broth.
- Finding other low-lift ways to manage food waste, such as storing food optimally and even using tools like ChatGPT to keep our bins at bay.
- Sneaky and simple tactics to cut water and energy use, from getting smart about doing our laundry and dishes to finally clearing those old emails out of our archives.
- Auditing our trash! And cutting it down to size.
Ready to join us? Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive email updates, and follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram to see some of the ways our readers and writers are getting more sustainable this year. You can also get in touch with us here with tips or questions and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #3pSustainableLivingChallenge.
Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL.