How To Live More Ethically In The City

By Sadie Kromm

Living in a sustainable city isn’t simply a figure of speech or a hashtag. It’s a conscious and pragmatic model that is achievable. The blueprint is made up of various alternate realities. For instance, a ubiquitous city is built on services and innovations that improve quality of life and city life, as well as a resilient city that maintains a healthy flow in the depths of all stressors while continuing to adapt and develop towards a sustainable future.

Within this prototype, there are simple and efficient ways that you can implement into your daily life to create a greener and more prosperous future.

7 Ways to Live More Ethically

Mind Map Image: Research Gate - How To Live More Ethically In The City
Credit: Research Gate

Portable and Economically Sound Solar Chargers

When one thinks of a solar panel, they might imagine a transformer-like brainchild, but in actuality, it can be as small as a reflective tanning mirror.

Grouphug is a roughly 13 x 10 window solar charger that’s easy to install with the help of a suction cup to hook. You can power up your devices like an iPhone or Android, speakers, bike lights, and more through the built-in USB port. It already has a rechargeable battery that is integrated, so the energy accumulated allows anyone to charge day and night. The best part about using solar chargers like Grouphug is their repairability, so you never have to throw it away.

As a society, we often remind ourselves about how technology can consume our own energy while forgetting that our devices can do the same for our planet. Using a clean and renewable source of power can be incredibly impactful, especially in a city that is animated by lights. It can assist with carbon offsets by not producing extra emissions into the air and water, as burning fossil fuels for electricity is actually one of the largest drivers of climate change.

Additionally, in a time where different disasters are taking place all over the world, it’s an alternative for when electricity is unavailable.

Grouphug portable solar panel stuck on window, with buildings visible outside
Credit: Grouphug

Investing In Green Technology

While using eco-friendly accessories like solar chargers is great, it’s also important to use our sustainable fingerprints and work on technology that is built with Mother Earth in mind.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of companies in the digital world that have mindful design throughout their products, specifically ASUS.

The industry giant was awarded certification by EPEAT and Energy Star, both globally recognised labels in the environmental tech and appliance sectors. This means ASUS products reduce greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency requirements. They, on average, exceed the Energy Star standard by as much as 37.6%.

Also, the products are a greener choice throughout their entire lifecycle, from the extraction of resources and manufacturing, to assembly, use, and end of life.

Most of the ASUS laptops are made of post-consumer recycled plastic, recycled ocean-bound plastic, and integrated post-industrial plastic. But that doesn’t affect the quality of the laptops. Each of ASUS’s products goes through a variety of U.S. military standard tests to examine their endurance in extreme conditions and everyday scenarios.

However, if it is time to part ways with your device, ASUS offers an extensive recycling program that can be used by drop-off, mail-back, trade-in, and pick-up services in 30 different countries. It’s an important service to consider with any company you choose to purchase from. 

Technology: Asus Laptops by Shortcut & Kevin Lee
Credit: Asus Laptops by Shortcut & Kevin Lee

Supporting Conscious Coffee Shops

Escaping your humble abode to limit noise pollution is a common thread for many people. Although it’s an important choice for maximizing work efficiency, we can also use it as an opportunity to consider if it’s ethically sound.

Globally, there are 25 million smallholders that produce 70–80% of the world’s coffee. Only 2% of coffee on the market worldwide is mindfully produced. Fair trade focuses on giving farmers stability in this incalculable environment and provides a premium that is above the product price’s threshold in order to earn a humane living. Most coffee shops or brands should have a dedicated page to where they source their products and/or have certification from organizations like Fair Trade International.

The Rainforest Alliance is also an organization through which coffee brands can gain accreditation for fair trade standards as well as ecosystem and wildlife conservation.

Conscious Coffee: Ethical Bean & Heathers Home Bakery

Hydroponics For Indoor Gardening

You don’t need to live in the countryside or have a plot of land in your backyard to enjoy growing your own goods.

Hydroponic systems are a simple way to grow fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits all year-round while reducing 60% of water consumption than traditional gardening.

The best part is that you only need a small space to start your journey. You can find them in a variety of sizes, including for your countertops, fridge-style for narrow corners, and ones that could perfectly act like an herbivorous entertainment system.

This environment brings ideal growing conditions and oxygen to plants while they bloom and when they are given nutrients and light without any infestation affecting them. With that, hydroponics eliminates the addition of chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides.

Hydroponics: VegeHome
Credit: VegeHome

Reducing Meat Consumption 

Participating in challenges and sharing your experience with loved ones and a community can be incredibly exciting.

Meatless Mondays is a weekly initiative that inspires people from all walks of life to reduce their consumption of meat. According to Monday Campaigns, Meatless Monday is backed by science and research through the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for a Livable Future. It has also curated over 1 million hashtags on Instagram alone, filled with delicious recipes and plant-based education.

When replacing meat with plant-based alternatives, you not only reap the long list of health benefits, but you also reap the gratification of participating in preserving the earth’s resources. For example, just by taking part in Meatless Mondays, you reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds. Over time, the commitment can save the same amount of emissions as driving a car for 348 miles!

Now if the world were actively involved, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gas emissions as taking 240 million cars off the road each year.

Meatless Mondays: Salt & Lavender via the #MeatlessMondays Hashtag on Instagram
Credit: Salt & Lavender via the #MeatlessMondays Hashtag on Instagram

Shop Local 

Have you ever heard of the term 15-minute city? It’s a concept that allows patrons of a neighborhood to have access to work, shopping, healthcare, education, and other necessities within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Supporting local businesses is one of the main advantages that come with this idea, though it can be integrated immediately if you are resourceful.

The benefits of shopping small are endless. Most importantly, it reduces the number of automobiles in a neighborhood that may cause pollution and habitat loss. It truly allows like-minded citizens to strategize on how to preserve certain landmarks and thoughtfully use spaces for good, like urban farming and co-op groceries.

Economy plays a massive part in living sustainably; it is a sister to affordable living. When you purchase and sell local products, it creates a precipitation-like effect by building employment and ultimately putting money back into the community. The chances of a smaller business owner considering the smaller details of a neighborhood, whether it be environmental or bettering the lives of other humans, are greater than a big box chain looking to push fast consumerism. 

Shop Local '15 Minute City Model: Micaël Dessin and Paris en Commun
Credit: Micaël Dessin and Paris en Commun 

Purchasing Second Hand Clothing

At some point, there was a piece of clothing that was a piece of your identity a few years ago that has been disposed of. It’s normal for humans to evolve and form new ideas of what our image should look like. Growth is healthy, but the way we treat our clothing after it is no longer of service is still a major thorn in the side of climate change today.

Fast fashion is one of the largest polluters in the world. It’s best described as an influencer who encourages you to buy trendy goods that will be out of season as quickly as they come down the runway. Out of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tonnes end up in the landfills. If we are not careful, the industry of fast fashion will be expected to generate 134 million tonnes of waste a year by the end of the decade.

Purchasing second-hand clothing, vintage, and even spending time at swap meets is a great alternative for finding quality and pieces you love without affecting your wallet and the planet. It can save more than 500 pounds of carbon emissions every year, including lowering water, waste, and carbon footprint by over 80%.

Thrifting: abreak93 thrift store
Credit: abreak93 thrift store


Remember, all of us are key components in making a city function. Each step we take, no matter how big or small the footprint is, can literally reduce environmental injustices.

About the Author

Sadie Kromm is an Ontario-based writer, poet, and earth advocate. She has produced content in the sustainability, design, and wellness sectors, as well as attended leading industry film events as a media. You find find her on Twitter @sadiespress and Instagram @sadiespress