Top 10 Tips for Teens Living Sustainably

by Bria Zegarelli


June 1, 2023

Eco-friendly living has become very important, however, sometimes sustainable living can be more expensive or not realistic for certain individuals’ needs. So, what are some realistic solutions that the average person — and more specifically, teens, who are usually on a budget — can incorporate into their everyday lives? Here are 10 tips that the average person or teen might be able to use.

  1. Thrift Shop

Buy clothes that you will actually wear, but if you won’t wear them again, donate them — and if you haven’t worn them, return them. With the rise of influencer culture, many people will buy clothes in bulk for “hauls” and then never wear them. Plus, the clothes that are bought for these hauls are usually from companies that unethically make their clothes, causing them to be cheaper, which is an incentive for customers. These clothes are also not good quality and are thrown out a lot of the time. If you buy better-quality clothes that could be worn for different purposes and could last a long time, there could be less clothing waste. Also, thrift shopping is a great alternative to buying good-quality but used items in order to reduce clothing waste. Locally, try Eons Fashion Antique.* (More thrift shops listed below!)

You can also donate and/or resell your clothing items at the following: Thriftsburgh, Ebay, Etsy, thredUp, Goodwill, Clothes Mentor, Tradesy, Swap, Poshmark, Depop, and Chairish. 

  1. Support Companies That Recycle

Many companies make clothes out of recycled plastic. However, this can create more expensive products; therefore, for students on a budget, it might be more realistic to focus on companies where you can bring in your used products, and the company will recycle them for you. Two companies that do this are Nordstrom and Lush Cosmetics. Nordstrom has both a clothing donation system as well as a beauty product recycling system called BeautyCycle. Also, all of Lush’s plastic comes from their recycled products, and they have a system called Bring It Back, “​​allowing customers the option to either save up five pots and still receive a free fresh face mask, or return one pot for $1 off their purchase.”

  1. Repurpose Your Everyday Items

If you’re not able to buy from a company that recycles, do it yourself! With skincare or makeup jars, you can remove the labels and use them for storing other items. You can also buy mason jars, which can both store items or be used for planting.

  1. Instead of Buying New, Increase the Life of Your Current Items

You don’t always have to quickly throw away plants or vegetables. You can actually propagate new plants from your old ones by putting clippings from the old plant in water or new soil. Also, you can put your herbs and veggies in water to help them last longer and save your money. Additionally, you can always use your vegetable scraps for broths or stocks later on.

  1. Use Less Water and Transportation

This is obviously a common tip, but it works! Using less water and transportation helps decrease water waste and pollution. If it is realistic for you to bike instead of driving somewhere, especially if it is a short trip, do it! Also, for students, bike or walk from your college campus to different stores if you’re able.  


  1. Use Tote Bags or Other Reusable Bags

Instead of using regular plastic bags for groceries, use your own reusable bag. Tote bags can actually be very high-quality and come with many compartments. Plus, they usually have very cute designs as well! Etsy has a lot of options. You could also buy a blank tote bag and turn it into an art project.

  1. Use Reusable Water Bottles

Similarly to the bags, it’s definitely good to have a reusable, non-plastic water bottle. That way, you can carry it with you and not have to worry about throwing a bunch of plastic away. A lot of people like to get high-quality reusable water bottles and customize them with stickers. Some popular options recently have been Hydroflasks and Stanley water bottles, but there are definitely cheaper ones out there as well. 

  1. Go to Your Local Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are a wonderful option for buying fresh, high-quality products such as flowers, food, and other handmade items while also supporting local farms, businesses, and communities. These markets are often in the middle of town and are therefore easy to get to, which means that you could bike or walk there if you live nearby. Also, many of the businesses use reusable or recyclable packaging, but you could bring your own reusable bag too. 

  1. Use Plastic-Free Makeup

Another option would be to try plastic-free makeup. Try to find companies such as Axiology Beauty that use paper packaging for both the shipping packaging and the actual makeup. Also, look for brands with refillable products. Instead of buying an entire new product, you can just ask for refills to be sent to you. For example, Fenty Beauty and Glossier both have refillable makeup sets. 

  1. Recycle and Compost

This is an obvious tip as well, but try to recycle as much as you can! The usual idea of recycling is the recycling can in your house, but it can also include things as simple as making new products from old clothes or repurposing jars. Some people also like to compost their food waste and use it as fertilizer.

Other local thrift stores to support include: 

  1. East End Community Thrift 
  2. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh ReStore 
  3. Thriftique 
  4. Red White & Blue Thrift Store 
  5. Hot Haute Hot 
  6. The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center 
  7. Furniture Forget Me Not 
  8. Repurposed Thrift Store
  9. Construction Junction 
  10. It’s New To Me

Do you have a favorite thrift store? Comment and join the conversation on social on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!


Bria Zegarelli is a regular contributor to The Green Voice