11 Ways to Live a Climate-Friendly Life


With the U.S. recommitting to the Paris Climate Accord as President Joe Biden came into office, reversing predecessor Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the U.S. has taken a step forward to show its commitment to limit global warming and avoid its potentially catastrophic impacts. 

Signed in 2015 by nearly every country in the world (195 in total), the agreement marked the first international pact with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission as a means to address the climate crisis. The landmark treaty saw the world’s leaders come together in a rare display of unity as they acknowledged our planet’s greatest threat: global warming. 

The US has pledged to cut carbon emissions in half, compared with 2005 levels, by the end of this decade. 

Why is this important?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "Climate scientists have concluded that we must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040 if we are to avoid a future in which everyday life around the world is marked by its worst, most devastating effects: the extreme droughts, wildfires, floods, tropical storms, and other disasters that we refer to collectively as climate change. These effects are felt by all people in one way or another but are experienced most acutely by the underprivileged, the economically marginalized, and people of color, for whom climate change is often a key driver of poverty, displacement, hunger, and social unrest."

While governmental organizations take on leadership to advance climate activism, it is also up to individuals (the nearly eight billion of us that occupy the planet!), corporations, nonprofits and academia to also do their part in creating a sustainable future for generations to come. 


At first glance, living climate-friendly may seem like a daunting task. However, there are plenty of actions you can take in your everyday life to reduce your carbon footprint. Some might very well surprise you. It is also important to note that like any lifestyle change, eco-friendly living may take a little practice. Don’t get discouraged. Your actions can make a real measurable difference.

In celebration of Earth Day 2021, we've rounded up 11 ways to start your journey to a climate conscious life. 

1. Use Your Purchasing Power for Good

As a responsible consumer, it is important to support brands that reflect your values. Voting with your dollars is one of the best ways to do that. Through investing in environmental and climate action initiatives, companies like PatagoniaSeventh Generation, and Bite are shaping the way we shop. With the rise of consumer awareness, sustainability has become a major priority for many companies. Just last year hygiene brand Native added a new line of compostable deodorant tubes when its customers requested plastic-free packaging. 

2. Waste Less Food

Watching what you eat is as important as watching what you waste. A third of all food produced never makes it onto the plate. The U.S. alone wastes about 30-40% of its food supply, 31% at the retail level. That is akin to throwing away 133 billion pounds of food or $161 billion dollars every single year. According to Project Drawdown, eliminating 50-70% of food waste by 2050 would take about 529 million cars off the road. Food inventory app No Waste helps reduce needless trips to the trash by tracking the produce you purchase. With your camera, just scan an item’s barcode and the app will send you a notification when that item is near its expiration date. It also monitors how much and how often you waste and comes with a variety of other features. So stop wasting and start saving. 

3. Start Composting

Almost half of the solid waste produced globally is biodegradable, yet so much is left to decompose in landfills devoid of oxygen, which in turn produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Composting has been used as a solution for decades. At first glance, composting might appear a little unapproachable, but don’t worry. You don’t need a green thumb to compost, just a sturdy bin and some kitchen scraps.  

Compost is made up of two elements: a “brown” carbon-rich source (dry leaves, cardboard, etc.) and a “green” nitrogen-rich source (food scraps, grass clippings, etc.). Aside from the usual suspects like fruit peels and vegetable tops, composting is especially great for items that would most likely end up directly in the trash. Leftover coffee grinds, tea bags, old newspapers, egg shells and even hair and lint can all be composted. Of course, not everyone has a backyard to make a giant compost pile. For the millions who live with no backyard or green space, try a small indoor composter or sign up for ShareWaste, an online network of composters who will take your unwanted scraps off your hands.

4. Switch to Renewable Energy at Home

Switching to renewable energy is a tried and true method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For home owners, this can mean installing solar panels on your roof or switching to a smart thermostat. Upgrading to Energy Star appliances alone can save you up to 30% on your electricity bill. If you live in an apartment or are renting, doing something as simple as swapping out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs can have a lasting impact in the long run. LEDs, while typically more expensive, use 90% less energy and last longer than fluorescent bulbs. Many states offer rebates to households that convert to clean energy so research the laws in your state to check your eligibility. 

5. Move towards a plant-based diet 

Veganuary may have come to a close, but whether you participated or not it is never too late to try a plant-based diet. Responsible for 15% of all global greenhouse emissions, the livestock industry is the third-largest producer of greenhouse gases, according to Project Drawdown. Eating plant-based could reduce those emission by as much as 70% for vegans and 63% for vegetarians. In the last few years, options for plant-based foods have expanded significantly with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods making meat-free dining more accessible to the masses. For those still hesitant to cut meat out of your diet entirely, simply trimming down your meat portion to the doctor recommended four ounces can reduce your emissions by half. 

6. Find a Refill Station

Every year 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans. Despite all our recycling efforts, oftentimes it is difficult to reduce waste when everyday products are made to be thrown away. Refill stations are here to change that. Effective and affordable, refill stations are spaces where people can come to replenish household essentials including laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner and dish soap to name a few. So instead of tossing that empty shampoo bottle, bring it with you when you go to visit a refill station near you. While these stations remain few and far between for now, locations are expanding globally so keep your eye out for more zero-waste shops to come. Check here to find a station in your area.

Another option when it comes to climate-friendly refills for shampoo and conditioner, check out Puracy's eco-refill bags. Not only will you love this family-owned, organic, plant-based product that works wonders on your hair, you'll also eliminate needless plastic waste. 

7. Shop from Ethical Clothing Brands 

With a long history of worker exploitation and a notoriously wasteful open-loop production cycle, the fashion industry is one of the environment’s worst offenders. While people are buying more clothing than ever before (a 60% increase since 2000), they are only keeping their clothes for half as long. This means that the average American throws out roughly 81 pounds of clothes annually. Instead of tossing your clothes, donate them to a non-profit thrift store like The Salvation Army, Goodwill or a Habitat for Humanity Restore. 

When 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year, where you shop can have a significant impact on your carbon footprint. But finding ethical clothing brands can often be challenging and expensive. Good On You is an app that rates popular brands on their sustainability and even offers alternatives to companies with low ratings. 

8. Consider “Greening” Your Financial Assets

For many, living sustainably comes down to the numbers. (Do I buy the affordable apples or the more expensive organic apples?) Oftentimes the conscious eco-friendly decisions you make can be in vain if the bank you use or the businesses you support have an overwhelmingly negative impact on the environment. Amazingly, "greening" your finances, or investing in sustainable, environmentally-driven ventures, can have 27 times greater an impact on reducing your carbon footprint than using public transportation, shopping ethically, and eating less meat. 

It is important to note that having a savings account is a privilege in it of itself so if you have the financial means, consider divesting from fossil fuels or switching to a bank that matches your values. Aspiration, for example, is an online financial firm that offers cash back to customers who purchase from ethical businesses. 

9. Invest in an Electric Vehicle

Over the last decade or so, hybrid cars and electrical vehicles (EVs) have grown more popular with 5 million hybrids and more than a million EVs on the road today. Their popularity is no doubt a result of their reasonable price points, lower ownership costs compared to gas-burning cars and of course, rising concerns about the climate crisis. According to Project Drawdown’s calculations, “Compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, emissions drop by 50 percent if an EV’s power comes off the conventional grid. If powered by solar energy, carbon dioxide emissions fall by 95 percent.” While not everyone has the means to drive a Tesla, those who can afford to drive an EV should consider switching to an eco-friendly ride next time they are in market for a new vehicle.  

10. Join an Online Eco-Community

Ever wanted one place where you can stay up to date on all the latest environmental news and find cruelty-free product recommendations? Then perhaps an eco-community is for you. An eco-community is where likeminded environmentally conscious people from all walks of life can meet online to share information. This can be in the form of a Facebook or Nextdoor group. If you are especially curious about the zero-waste lifestyle, Brightly is an excellent source. The app offers sustainable guides for beginners, an ambassadors program and a weekly podcast providing tips for climate-friendly living. 

11. Travel Sustainably

As post pandemic travel slowly resumes, it is never too early to start thinking about how we can be better, more responsible and kind travelers going forward. Refusing plastic and committing to a zero or low waste trip is a good place to start in living and traveling with climate consciousness. Consider choosing accomodations and tour operators that support climate action and community impact initiatives.

When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint even further, if you plan to fly, consider one long haul flight over multiple flights throughout the year. When booking your flight, pick an airline that invests in cleaner fuels solutions and offset programs. Just recently JetBlue became the first airline to commit to going carbon neutral on all of its domestic flights with Delta not far behind. Traveling by train or public transport are always going to be an excellent pathway to keep your carbon footprint low. 

Booking with a sustainable travel company is also a great way to make a positive difference. When you book with Kind Traveler, you're empowered to give back to local communities that include many environmental charities that are committed to climate action. With Kind Traveler's Give + Get hotel booking model, a $10 nightly donation to a locally vetted charity that positively impacts the community you are visiting, or a charity of choice, unlocks exclusive hotel rates and perks with curated Kind Hotels. 100% of donations are given to charity. You will also learn exactly what a $10 donation will do. With a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation or One Tree Planted, your ten dollars will help plant 10 trees. 

Lastly, educate yourself continually on responsible travel principles. Organizations like CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) or Impact Travel Alliance can be excellent resources for you in advancing your knowledge towards responsible travel and a kinder future.