Going Green in a Big City: How You Can Live a Sustainable Lifestyle

Big cities are associated with industrialization, so it seems that it’s impossible to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle or to go green. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth because bigger cities provide more opportunities for you to be more eco-friendly. Here are some of the things that you can do to live a more sustainable lifestyle if you live in a big city.

1: Shop Local

The idea behind shopping locally being more environmentally friendly is that fewer carbon emissions are used. The produce you buy at a supermarket usually travels from farther distances than produce sold at your local farmers’ market. Shopping locally for your food also uses less packaging and you typically get fresher food. Not only is this option more environmentally friendly, but you’ll also be helping the economy of the city you’re shopping in.

You can shop locally for other things, too. Instead of shopping at big retailers for your clothes, you can shop at local thrift shops. Again, clothes at thrift stores don’t travel from a far distance, and you’ll be supporting local businesses as well. Also, thrift shopping (known simply as thrifting) is seen as being just as trendy as shopping at big-name department stores these days, if not trendier.

2: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of the easiest and most popular ways to go green is to follow the 3 Rs: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.


Reducing means simply cutting back on the number of items you use. Five ways to reduce include:

  1. Avoid single-use items like juice boxes, plastic utensils, and paper dinnerware. Other single-use items that are necessities, such as cleaning supplies, should be bought in bulk to cut down on packaging.
  2. Buy less when grocery shopping, unless you’re buying necessities in bulk. Many people overbuy and end up throwing things away later.
  3. Many billing companies allow you to choose a “go green” option, meaning that they won’t send you paper statements in the mail and will email them instead.
  4. Use reusable containers to store food when packing a lunch. Try to avoid using plastic wraps and plastic bags.
  5. When ordering food, don’t take any plastic utensils with you; opt to use your own silverware when you get home. Also, choose local, family-owned restaurants over big chain restaurants.


As the name suggests, reusing means that you use something more than once. Here are four examples of how you can reuse items.

  1. Bring your own (reusable) bags when you’re shopping.
  2. Donate usable clothes and other items to thrift stores in your local community. “Reuse” can also mean that other people can reuse another person’s items.
  3. Switch from disposable items to reusable items, like using metal water bottles instead of plastic ones.
  4. Trade items with family members, friends, and coworkers instead of buying new items. This can be things like books and furniture.


Recycling is the process of turning waste into new objects. Glass, paper, plastic, metal, textiles, and even electronics can all be recycled. The great thing about living in a big city is that there are likely to be recycling centers everywhere.

Oftentimes, people don’t recycle because they don’t know how or where to go. No matter which city you live in, make an effort to get familiar with the recycling centers in your area.

3: Get Rid of Your Car

Getting rid of your car doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have no car at all. Nowadays, you have the option of driving an electric vehicle, which produces no carbon emissions whatsoever. However, electric cars are expensive (although they’re more cost-effective in the long run). Fortunately, there are more eco-friendly options that are more cost-effective.

Many big cities, such as New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Chicago, are walkable cities. They’re also cycling-friendly cities, so you can ride a bike instead of driving a car. However, it’s important to be very cautious when cycling because it’s possible to be involved in a bicycle accident with a car— even if the drivers of cars are in the wrong. Even cycle-friendly cities can see a lot of cycling accidents.

These are the three most common ways to live a green lifestyle, and it can be done whether you live in a big city or a small town. However, bigger cities offer more resources to help you live more sustainably. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to make this transition overnight. Even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

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