How to Live a Sustainable Winter Lifestyle?
It’s cold out, it’s probably blizzarding, and thinking about a sustainable winter lifestyle is likely not on your mind, but what if it could be? Going green or low-waste, doesn’t have to start or end as one season finishes. It’s a lifestyle change that’s ongoing, slow, and rewarding. Keep reading to learn interesting ways to change up your lifestyle, buy sustainable clothing, and make your day-to-day life more eco-forward and even more economical. (win-win!)
10 ways to live a sustainable winter lifestyle
1. Embrace the winter season
Yes it’s cozy to hang out by the fire in a blanket, but try to get outside too! Enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, you’ll thank yourself after! Go for a cross-country ski, a winter hike, snowshoeing, downhill skiing or tobogganing with the kids! Get your blood and endorphins flowing! Fresh air is really good for you. Going outdoors will give you a dose of vitamin D, even in the winter months in Canada. Research has shown that vitamin D can elevate your mood, minimize winter blues, and going outside can relax you and bring you a feeling of peace and calmness. Plus getting fresh air will boost your oxygen levels, which then boosts your serotonin levels, which are the happiness chemicals in your body. Therefore, going outdoors is a zero-cost way to reduce stress and live a healthier lifestyle during the winter.
2. Save on Your Energy Bills
One easy way to save money in the winter and be more environmentally friendly is to not raise your heat so high. Add an extra layer of clothing or cuddle in a blanket on the couch, instead of cranking the heat. Basically, each time you crank up the thermostat, you are requiring more natural gas to heat your house, which then releases more greenhouse emissions into the atmosphere. Once you understand the connection between your thermostat, the Earth and your energy bills, it will make saving a lot easier. (Hint upgrading your furnace and HVAC systems to energy-efficient systems can help you save on energy and minimize heat loss.)
3. Choose Your Candles Wisely
Most candles aren’t made from the most healthy or eco-friendly materials. Majority of the candles you buy in retail stores or online are made from paraffin, which has been deemed to emit potential harmful chemicals into the air. Luckily, candle-makers have caught on and many are using healthier materials like beeswax (which can be made locally), or soy candles which are much healthier.
4. Buy Broth in Glass Jars vs. Cartons
An easy eco-forward hack is to buy your soup broth in glass jars instead of cartons. You will save money, and actually end up having more broth, that will last longer, but just in powder form. Plus, you’ll save cupboard space. All you have to do is add water to the broth powder, vs pouring in a whole carton of broth.
5. Eat Local Produce and 'Ugly Produce'
Eat seasonally! For instance, in late fall squash, root vegetables, onions, and cabbage grow in Canada, so load up on those vegetables. Plus many foods grow in local greenhouses year round like your greens, spinach, kale, mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers. Just because a carrot doesn't look perfect straight, doesn’t mean it’s still not good to eat. The retail industry has conditioned us to think that we have to eat “perfect looking food,” but this marketing strategy has turned into hundreds of thousands of pounds and dollars in food waste. The nutritional value of non-perfect looking fruit doesn’t go down, it just looks a little different. However individuals and families are just as bad at wasting food, about 40% of food waste also comes from wasting produce, fruits and vegetables at home. The City of Toronto estimates that families could save an average of $1,100 per year by minimizing food waste, and buying only what we need.
6. Minimize Food Waste, Wasteful Food Packaging, and Eliminate Single-Use Grocery Bags
Going eco-friendly grocery shopping requires you to plan in advance a bit, but once you get the hang of it you will get into a routine. You can minimize food waste by creating a menu for each meal, or a meal plan. Then when you go shopping, you only buy what’s on that list, and what you will actually eat. If there are leftover veggies, turn them into a soup or stew, or fry them up with an egg. There is always a way to eat leftovers, and make them yummy! Remember to plan ahead and bring your produce bag, bread bag, and market bag, so you don’t have to use plastic bags at the grocery store.
7. Thrift Shop, Swap Clothes, or Knit Your Own Winter Accessories
Who doesn’t love a handmade knit headband or scarf? Whole scarves, hats and mitts not only keep you warm, but are a cost effective way to stay warm this winter. Instead of buying new synthetic winter accessories or sweaters, trying knitting your own, or shopping at local vintage shops who offer funky sweaters or custom made knit goods.
8. Shop Ethical, Fairtrade and Local Canadian Brands
We all love buying new clothes, but one easy way to improve your impact on this Earth is to buy from amazing, kind, ethical, Fairtrade companies. Do your due diligence, and research winter coat companies or winter boot companies before you buy. You may be able to buy from a local company who sources goods in Canada, actually knows everyone on their supply chain, supports local causes, or incorporates eco-forward practices or uses recycled goods. Here is a list of ethical Canadian clothing brands to shop from.
9. Bring Your Own Mug (BYOM)
Bring your own reusable mug to coffee shops for that warm cup of cocoa or hot cup of java. You’ll be saving a single-use cup from being waste, and helping keep your ecological footprint low! Plus, your warm beverage will likely stay warmer MUCH longer than in an on-the-go disposable coffee cup.
10. Ditch the Large Shampoo and Conditioner Bottles With These
Have you heard of shampoo and conditioner bars yet? They’re gaining popularity and are an amazing sustainable alternative to large plastic non-reusable bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Both bars come wrapped in a cardboard box, and have much lower waste than plastic soap bottles!
Whether you want to start small, and bring your own mug for your morning coffee, or ditch plastic grocery bags for reusable produce and market bags, or you want to just start by getting in touch with nature, the choice is all yours.
Wishing you an eco-friendly winter season full of calm, clarity, self-care and a dose of Mother Nature!