Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 3 June 2024

Sustainable living: 59 tips for a more sustainable lifestyle


Almost 90 percent of consumers in Germany would like companies to operate more sustainably and in a more environmentally friendly manner. This is shown by a recent study from February 2021. But more and more people are getting more active and want to live more sustainably themselves. This group of the "actively sustainability-conscious" already accounts for 42 percent. Do you also want to live sustainably? Here we have lots of sustainable living tips and examples on how you can lead a more sustainable lifestyle and live more sustainably. You don't have to be perfect - just start!

Table of contents:

What does sustainable living mean?

Sustainability in everyday life - 6 tips for sustainable eating

Mobility and climate change: 5 tips for sustainable commuting

Home sweet home - 34 tips for sustainable living around the house

Buy, Share, Repair - 3 tips for sustainable Consumption

10 Tips for work, power, education, and finances

The 17 sustainable development goals

Calculate your carbon footprint

Sustainability at CBS

What does sustainable living mean?

Climate change, air pollution, world hunger, and water scarcity are among the most pressing global problems. The toot of the problem is that most of us, unfortunately, do not live sustainably. By consuming more resources than are available in the long term, we live at the expense of the environment and less developed nations. The carbon footprint indicates how many raw materials we use and how many pollutants we cause with our consumption. The way we buy, what we buy, how we travel, work or spend our free time - all determines the amount of our ecological footprint. Sustainable living is a philosophy to reduce personal and societal environmental impact. So sustainability does not only mean environmentally friendly but also socially acceptable. For example, buying products that people have produced under fair conditions. Sustainable living means keeping your carbon footprint as small as possible and acting in a socially responsible manner. It encourages people to minimise their use of Earth's resources and reduce the damage of human and environmental interactions.  Our tips will help you to do this. Have fun!

Here are 59 sustainable tips for a more sustainable lifestyle

Sustainability in everyday life - 7 tips for sustainable eating

  • Eat less meat

    One third of our carbon footprint is determined by our diet, as stated by the organisation Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World). Animal-based food accounts for about 80 percent of this. Their production requires an extremely large amount of water, pollutes our groundwater with liquid manure, and consumes valuable land for fodder cultivation. In addition, often working conditions in the meat industry are anything but fair, and industrial factory farming is ethically questionable. The most effective way to improve your ecological footprint is to avoid or reduce the consumption of animal-based foods.

  • Buy regional products

    Due to transport by lorry, ship or even plane, the carbon footprint of many foods is extremely poor. Sure, mangoes and pineapples don't grow in Germany, so they have to be imported. But you can perhaps resort to less exotic fruits or foods like imported beer. Instead, take regional fruits and vegetables. This is easy with many varieties, for example, strawberries, tomatoes, or apples. In the meantime, packaged and unpackaged foods are labeled so that you can recognise the country of origin. When strolling through the weekly market, you can buy from producers from your region. In many cities there are now even "market hawkers" - you order online and pick up the regional products from various suppliers at a collection point. Fresh produce boxes also deliver regional produce to your home. You discover new types of vegetables and the recipes provided explain how to prepare them. You like drinking juice? Then try naturally cloudy apple juice from meadow orchards. It has traveled fewer kilometers than orange juice concentrate from South America. In addition, local orchards are a playground for insects and birds.

  • Look for seasonal food (locally grown food)

    Seasonal foods from your region travel less miles and are therefore more climate-friendly and cheaper. You can find seasonal calendars on the internet. In addition, the many cooking magazines at the checkout like to show the season's highlights on their front pages.

  • Drink tap water instead of bottled water

    Tap water in Germany is strictly monitored and is perfectly safe. It's always cold and fresh, less expensive, and always available. You don't need to carry boxes, buy plastic bottles, or return deposit bottles. A squeeze of lemon, syrup, or juice adds flavor to the water, if you prefer drinking sparkling water, you can also use home carbonated water makers to make your sparkling water at home.

  • Plan your shopping and save food (Eat the food you buy and reduce food waste)

    Sustainable living or living green also means wasting less. Food waste is a big problem. Use a shopping list to buy what you really need. Check what you have in stock. Large quantities are often cheaper - but if you have to throw too much away, you haven't saved anything. You don't know what to do with two carrots, a stick of leek, and feta cheese? Simply google the ingredients and you will get plenty of recipes that need only these ingredients. You could also join food-sharing and save food from being thrown away. You can find locations near you on the web and make new friends by joining in.

  • Go organic and fair

    Sustainability includes social responsibility as well as ecology. Fairly produced foods such as coffee, juice, or chocolate help to ensure that more money ends up with the producers of the products. If you buy organic, you reduce your carbon footprint and support environmentally friendly food production.

  • Pass on plastic

    Passing on plastic is crucial for reducing environmental harm and promoting sustainability. Opt for reusable alternatives to single-use plastic items whenever possible. Carry a reusable shopping bag to avoid plastic bags at stores. Choose products with minimal or no plastic packaging, and favor items in glass, paper, or cardboard containers.

Mobility and climate change: 5 tips for sustainable commuting

  • Fly less

    You suspect it, you know it - with air travel you undeniably boost your carbon footprint. Because no means of transport is more harmful to the climate than air travel. Since 1990, global air traffic has almost tripled and continues to grow strongly. Realise that air travel is so cheap because environmental damage is not priced in. And kerosene for air travel is not taxed, unlike energy for rail and car travel. Consider whether or how often you can do without air travel in order to live more sustainably. How about taking the train to climb the Alps instead of trekking in the Andes? Or how about less spontaneous city trips and more biking tours? If it still has to be a flight, look for ways to offset your CO2 emissions.

  • Bike instead of driving: drive less and save fuel

    The diesel scandal, driving bans, climate change - car traffic is not only a burden on cities, but on our climate as a whole. In cities, it is easier to move in an environmentally friendly way. Public transport and rail connections make it possible. The healthiest way, of course, is to bike. It helps you stay fit and protects the environment. If you want to buy a car yourself, find out about environmentally-friendly models. If neither the train nor the bicycle is an alternative for you, try alternative car use: ridesharing, car sharing, neighborhood cars - the available options are growing rapidly, especially in cities. 

  • Try to combine multiple errands in one trip instead of multiple trips throughout the week

  • Take off and touchdown consume more fuel than cruising at a high altitude, so when flying try to take direct flights to reduce your carbon emissions. 

  • When flying: pack light. More weight = more fuel = more CO2 emissions

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Home sweet home - 34 tips for sustainable living around the house

  • Reduce your energy consumption

    Your oven, washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, hoover, and other electrical appliances consume resources when produced and energy during use. Before you buy a new appliance, consider whether you can buy it second-hand or perhaps share it with someone else. When buying a new device, look for the new energy labels. If you don't use your computer for more than five minutes, don't leave it in standby mode, but switch it off. All this will reduce the eco-balance of your purchase and thus your carbon footprint. Go one step further and replace incandescent lamps and energy-saving lamps with LEDs - this will save you electricity and money in the long run.

  • Cook and wash up cleverly

    A kettle uses a lot of energy, but you can still save energy with it: Only fill it with as much water as you need; if you need water to cook pasta, heat it in the kettle first. When cooking on the cooker, put the lid on the pot so that water boils faster. Are you cooking a dish in the oven? Then use the baking energy for the entire dish. For example, don't just cook fish fingers in the oven, but add potato wedges and vegetables to the dish. When it comes to washing up, pack the dishwasher full and choose the economy programme. When washing dishes by hand, do not rinse under running water.

  • Ventilate and heat properly

    Most living spaces are still heated with fossil fuels, which is harmful to the climate. Therefore, clever heating and ventilation will reduce your ecological footprint. Airing your home at regular intervals instead of tilting windows and setting the thermostats at a consistent temperature will reduce CO2 emissions and your utility bill.

  • Washing and cleaning

    Every year, around 530,000 tonnes of chemicals from detergents and cleaning agents are washed into the wastewater by private households in Germany. A third of these are toxic. This has been determined by NABU. It recommends avoiding particularly aggressive agents such as pipe cleaners or oven sprays. Four cleaning agents are sufficient: All-purpose cleaner, dishwashing liquid, bathroom cleaner, and scouring agent. Products with the "EU Ecolabel" mark environmentally friendly and health-friendly detergents and cleaning agents. When washing, pay attention to the correct dosage, do not use fabric softener, fill the washing machine properly and select the eco-program - this is how you achieve sustainability in everyday life. If you want to become even more sustainable, make your own cleaning products and cosmetics for yourself, your flatmates, or friends and family.

  • Ban microplastics from your bathroom and clothing

    Two types of microplastics pollute our environment and are a major threat to the entire food chain, especially in the oceans. Primary microplastics are pieces of plastic that are smaller than five millimeters when they enter the environment. They enter wastewater from a variety of sources: from cosmetics and detergents, as abrasion from tires, or as fibers from synthetic textiles. Secondary microplastics are created when large pieces of plastic, such as plastic bottles, break down into small pieces through weathering. Conventional brand-name products of shampoos, shower gels, body lotion, scrubs, and facial care contain microplastics. Neither type is banned, nor do they have to be labeled. With natural cosmetics, you are on the safe side when it comes to microplastics.

    When synthetic clothing such as fleece jackets or sports textiles are washed, tiny fibers come loose. They enter the sea via wastewater, where they are one of the main sources of microplastics. Because more and more fashion, outdoor, and sports clothing is being produced and consumed worldwide, the environmental impact of textile-related microplastics is increasing. You can help reduce the number of microplastics ending up in the ocean:

  • Buy clothes made from natural fibers like wool and cotton.

  • Do not wash hard textiles such as jeans together with fleece fabrics, because this creates a lot of mechanical friction

  • Pack the washing machine really full, also then fewer fibers come loose

    Wash synthetic fibers with cold water

  • Wash stains one by one instead of washing the whole garment

  • Air your not-so-dirty clothes to get rid of smells instead of washing

  • Reduce plastic waste

    Plastic packaging is everywhere, from food to toys, cosmetics to electronics. These tips will help you reduce plastic waste: Buy unpackaged things whenever possible, for example at an unpackaged shop. If you can't avoid it, dispose of plastic directly when shopping in the yellow bins at the shops or in the yellow bins at home. For liquid packagings, such as all-purpose cleaners, look for the"EU Ecolabel" label. 

  • Buy second-hand furniture

  • Buy second-hand clothes

  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room

  • Use natural light during the day instead of overhead lights or lamps

  • Use matches instead of lighters

  • Use rechargeable batteries

  • Get bills delivered digitally

  • Use cloths instead of paper towels.
  • Why buy takeaway coffee, make it at home instead
  • Invest in a pressure cooker, it helps reduce the energy used by 70 percent.
  • If you have a pet, use compostable poop bags or sustainable cat litter to reduce your pet's pawprint

  • Have pollution-fighting plants (like snake plants, or spider plants)

  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth

  • Take shorter showers

  • Use a bamboo toothbrush

  • Avoid foaming hand soaps and simply use bar soaps instead

  • Use reusable straws

  • When buying coffee or tea use your own to-go cup or mug

  • When ordering food at a restaurant, take leftovers home with you

  • Ever considered composting? Here's a guide on how to start
  • Why use dryers when you can hang dry your laundry
  • Every considered mending? Repair your clothes that have holes, or stains
  • Instead of just getting rid of your clothes, consider recycling or donating them

Buy, Share, Repair - 3 Tips for Sustainable Consumption

Many of our tips help to minimize the impact of individual activities. For example, save fuel, buy locally or use plastic bottles with eco-labels. It is even more effective to fundamentally question consumption: Do I really need a new monitor, a new outdoor jacket, garden chairs, jeans, and a sandwich maker?

  • Buy less or consider buying second-hand

    If you buy less, you help to reduce the mountains of waste in the form of electronic waste, plastic, or textiles. Do you want employees to be paid fairly? Then consider from whom you order goods online or buy locally. Or look in classifieds or online communities to see if you can buy things second-hand.

  • Repair defective equipment

    Maybe there are alternatives to buying new: in many cities, for example, there are repair cafés where people share their know-how and help repair your bike, computer or other defective items.

  • Sharing connects

    Digitalization has made sharing easier: There are many forms and offers for car sharing. Traditional sharing also has advantages - not everyone needs their own hoover, lawnmower, or drill. By sharing, you protect the environment and meet other people from your neighborhood.

10 tips for work, power, education, and finances

  • Switch to green power

    You can improve your carbon footprint enormously by switching to renewable energy sources for your electricity. Comparison portals help you find the best providers.

  • Sustainability in your studies

  • Save paper and electricity
    You can also work sustainably in the office and at school: Save paper and print out as little as possible. Use recycled paper for printers and notes. Set up your computer so that it switches to power-saving mode after just a few minutes of non-use. If you don't need it for a longer period of time, switch off the computer completely. Since the Internet consumes a lot of power with its computer farms, you can stream music or movies less and download and enjoy them offline instead.

  • Rent textbooks instead of buying them

  • Buy used textbooks instead of new ones

  • Buy digital textbooks instead of print ones

  • Choose sustainable study programmes (at CBS we offer two sustainable graduate degrees. Sustainable management and Tourism and Sustainability management)

  • Educate yourself about sustainability and sustainable living by reading books and blogs about sustainability 

  • Listen to Ted Talks about sustainability, sustainable living, or sustainable innovation.

  • Listen to podcasts on sustainable living and lifestyles or sustainable shopping (Spotify has a wide variety of sustainable podcasts)

  • Sustainable finances

    Sustainability in everyday life also applies to finances. Choose your bank and your investments according to ethical and ecological criteria.

Global and local: the 17 sustainable development goals


In its 2030 Agenda, the United Nations defined 17 sustainability goals. They include combating poverty and world hunger, education, justice, peace, decent work, economic growth, and climate protection. All states are called upon to align their actions with these goals. Germany has also committed itself to implement the goals.

Introducing our “SDG Teaching Map”: Incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals within CBS

Here at CBS we also contribute to achieving the 17 global sustainable development goals such as promoting quality education, fighting poverty, and improving living conditions in emerging and developing countries, by supporting two recognized climate protection projects certified according to international standards. Learn more about them here

Calculate your carbon footprint - for a more sustainable lifestyle

With a carbon footprint Calculator, you can determine your individual carbon footprint. The result shows you your biggest climate weaknesses and gives you tips on how you can live sustainably and improve your carbon footprint. Click here for the footprint calculator.

Sustainability at CBS

Our mission is "creating tomorrow" - for a liveable and sustainable future. We are committed to the goals of the United Nations and have voluntarily joined the UN Global Compact. In practice, this means: Over the past ten years, we have established aspects of sustainable management in all areas of teaching and research. Two Master's programme in sustainability open up the best career opportunities for you: In the Master's programme "Sustainable Management" you will acquire a scientific and application-oriented understanding of sustainability, combined with business education and aspects of digitalisation. Our English-language Master's programme "Tourism and Sustainable Management" trains experts who strive for sustainable, socially just, and economically successful tourism. On our campuses, too, we do everything we can to reduce our ecological footprint: For example, we have switched completely to green electricity and founded the Center for Advanced Sustainable Management (CASM). Here, actors from science, business, and politics network and deal with questions of CSR, international business ethics, sustainability, and social innovation.

Conclusion: Join in and celebrate your successes

Our list of tips for sustainable living is very extensive. You can't possibly implement everything, but every action helps. Some things have a bigger, some a smaller effect on the environment and climate change. Sometimes it's easier for you to live ecologically, sometimes you don't have the energy to change anything. But that is just fine, after all, we are all humans. By talking to others about how important sustainable living is to you and how you overcome your struggles, you can be a role model and pull others along. If you focus on sustainability in your career, you can make a big difference. Do only what you feel like doing and celebrate your successes and remember that every single step or action, regardless of how small it is counts.

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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