From carsharing to reusable shopping bags – it’s so easy to live a more conscious life and contribute to your own health as well as the environment. These are the ten easiest ways to make the world a better place today.

Buy local

Strawberries in winter? Why not try some satisfyingly earthy beetroot instead? It’s healthy, regionally grown, and great for the environment. But locally sourced vegetables do not only help to spruce up our world, they also support the people producing and delivering these delicious fresh treats.

By buying local, you are supporting local farmers – and hopefully also a neighborhood greengrocer. If this conjures up the vision of a joyless winter of cabbage and potatoes, have no fear: Since most farmers also run a couple of greenhouses, there’s no need to avoid year-round staples like cucumbers, lettuce, or tomatoes.

Buy local: Farmer holding a crate of fresh vegetables.
Regional and seasonal: fruit and veg.
Photo: iStock/valentinrussanov

Less meat

Whether beef, pork, or poultry – when it comes to meat, you can forget about a lean C02 footprint. Industrial beef production generates an astonishing 15 kg of C02 per kg of meat, compared to the mere 150 grams or so produced by growing a kilo of vegetables. So, if you’d like to slim down your carbon footprint, why not swap out your côte de boef for a tasty celeriac steak at least every once in a while?

Delicious vegetarian food and veggie burger patties on a plate
How about going veggie for one day a week?
Photo: istock/nata_vkusidey

Use carsharing

smart ready to share

Urbanites know how hard it can be to find an empty parking spot. Whenever you need a space, there’s not a single one in sight. What’s more, driving on your own is terrible for the environment. So, opt for shared use instead and check out the many available carsharing options. Options like the new service smart ready to share. With this offering, smart users can easily lend their vehicle to friends or neighbors via smartphone, turning the car into public transport at the touch of a button. The service is currently available in Germany, with plans to expand into Italy and France.

A man is using the service smart ready to share
Share your smart with friends.
Photo: Daimler AG

Try foodsharing

Make the world a better place while eating well – thanks to foodsharing. The scheme is easily explained: Restaurants, businesses, and private citizens make their unused food available for pick-up. This prevents perfectly fine dishes to go to waste at the end of the day. Even though small fees may be charged, the idea is a win-win, enabling you to save cash and to helping to save valuable resources. Hungry? Try ResQ Club. The Berlin-based startup connects eaters with food providers – with a simple app.

Delicious takeout food.
Save some perfectly fine dishes – before they’re thrown out.
Photo: ResQ Club

Swap plastic for tote bags

Plastic bags are still popular with retailers. At the same time, more and more shops and consumers realize that there is no real need for packaging at all. US blogger Lauren Singer recently started a supermarket that is completely packaging-free. On the other side of the pond, buyers in Berlin can get their pasta, veggies, or shampoo plastic-free if they bring their own mason jars and fabric tote bags.

Package free: a store that has no need for packaging at all
No packaging? Not as hard as it sounds.

Don’t buy, DIY!

While the DIY movement has been around the block (and back), its basic tenets remain as relevant as ever. Anyone looking to support sustainability should try their hand at making things instead of leaving it to others. DIY principles include swapping and the rediscovery of old crafts. So, why not repurpose wooden wine crates to create a cupboard, instead of shopping pre-fab furniture?

Repurposed wine crates form a cupboard shelf in an apartment
DIY: create your own style.
Photo: iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Waste not, want not

Your washing machine stopped working? Or your chair has started to crack? Instead of dumping the offenders, try treating them to some serious repair TLC. Dedicated repair cafes offer plenty of tools, tips, and advice to help you fix your own broken items, guided by experts on location.

Take the Goodlife Centre in London, where professionals are happy to show drop-ins exactly how to upholster, mend, or otherwise fix their faulty items. Other countries have similar initiatives for DIY newbies. So, grab that wobbly chair and get gluing!

Repair café: A group of people helping each other with DIY-projects
Get hands-on in your neighborhood repair café.
Photo: Julian Love

Less is more

The average European owns around 10,000 items. Clothing, kitchenware, leisure equipment – a veritable mountain of things. A better alternative would be to buy less, but with a more quality-conscious focus. Even the fickle fashion industry is starting to realize that sustainability and longevity can actually be an integral part of a successful marketing strategy.

Even leading labels like Vivienne Westwood deliberately ask customers to shop less: At last year’s Bread & Butter fashion fair, the British style icon herself appealed to fashion fans to choose quality over quantity.

sustainable fashion by Vivienne Westwood
Sustainability is en vogue.

Opt for green power

More and more parts of the world are powered by renewable energy. Its share in the global power supply keeps growing at a rapid pace. Just last year, solar capacity shot up by an impressive 50 percent. China, especially, places great emphasis on photovoltaics to secure the country’s future energy supply. Bright news, anyone?

a smart electric drive driving past a windmill
Cruise on renewable energy: in the new smart cabrio electric drive.
Photo: Daimler AG

Avoid plastic bottles and paper cups

Still dog-tired on the way to work? Why not grab a quick coffee? But not in the usual throwaway cup – instead, bring your own stylish, multi-use coffee mug. The same applies to staying hydrated on the go. In many countries, tap water is just as good as the pre-bottled stuff.

Yet when you compare their C02 footprints, the bottle loses out by a mile. So, if you’d like to do your bit for the environment, get tapping – or at least pick up a refillable bottle.

a reusable coffee cup
Trusted companion: your reusable coffee cup.
Photo: iStock/Olga Niekrasova