Changing the world starts at home. What if you could fill your free time with hobbies that actively improve the lives of others and the environment? We compiled a list of 35 low-waste, eco-friendly and sustainable hobbies for you to try out. Sustainability is not just about what you cut out of your lifestyle, but also what you put into it.
Beekeeping might be the most impactful hobby you can adopt for your garden and the world. Honey bees pollinate nearly 80% of the world’s food resources and produce valuable products such as honey, beeswax and propolis. Search for beekeeping groups and beginner courses in your area online. It’s easy to get started in beekeeping and learn as you go.
2. Bird Watching
Do you love the quiet peace of a forest? Do you stare in amazement at colourful wings as they flit by? If the sweet birdsong heard from a distance awakens your curiosity, you may want to start bird watching! This hobby is gentle on the environment and spurs deeper appreciation for your surroundings.
3. Observe Wildlife
Whether it is a national park, rescue centre or an ethical zoo, observing wildlife is a deeply rewarding pass-time. Get to know the species native to your area and discover new, wonderful creatures wherever you go. This hobby also benefits the animals as your entrance fee will be used to provide for their care and protection.
4. Rogue Gardening
Otherwise known as guerrilla gardening, rogue gardening means to garden on land that doesn’t belong to you…at all. Whether you want to bring life to a scrap of sidewalk or an abandoned lot, go for it! You could plant food crops or ornamental plants, it is up to you.
5. Sustainable Gardening
Transform your garden into a sustainable, creature-friendly one. This can include using eco-friendly pesticides, organic practices and planting crops that will attract beneficial creatures. Research organic and no-dig gardening as good starting points.
6. Grow Your Food
There are few things as rewarding as eating what you have grown yourself. By growing your own food, you know exactly what you are getting. You become more connected to your food as you understand its mechanisms and eat more seasonally in general. You don’t require much space to start, you may only need a windowpane for herbs or a pot for radishes.
7. House Plants
Collecting houseplants has become ever more trendy over the past few years, and with good reason! They liven up a home, purify the air and are beautiful to boot. Your most popular houseplants, such as the fiddle leaf fig and pothos, are easy to look after and a great place to start.
8. UpCycle Furniture
It’s amazing what a coat of varnish can do. A good sanding and a lick of paint can transform that thrifted-for-a-dollar bookcase into a stylish addition to your home. Don’t be intimidated by your local hardware store, get out there and upcycle some hidden gems!
9. Volunteer in Your Community
You probably already have something in mind, a charity or organisation that you care about. Why not get involved? Whatever your skills, they can make use of you – they probably need someone just like you to help them out! Volunteering is a fulfilling and meaningful way to spend your free time.
10. Clean up Beaches and Rivers
There is always a beach, a river or some other natural area that needs some love. Help out your community and all the other creatures that make use of those areas by cleaning them up. You can join a river/beach cleaning group, start your own or go it alone – as long as it’s safe to do so.
11. Thrift Flip
Shopping for second-hand clothing can lead to a bounty of unique pieces that don’t fit perfectly, or have one or two undesirable elements. Pick up your scissors, nail and thread and make something great out of that find! Some thrift flips are pretty straightforward – like shortening a skirt, or removing shoulder pads. Other projects may require some research and practice before getting it just right.
12. Learn How to Make your Own Clothes
So you saw this beautiful material and wish you had someone to make something wearable out of it? You could be that someone. Learning how to sew and repair your clothes is sustainable and a great life skill to develop.
13. Cook in New Ways, With New Ingredients
Cooking with more sustainable ingredients and more seasonally is a game changer. Exploring the produce grown locally will open you up to new ingredients and new ways of experiencing food. Love seafood but hate how it’s harvested? Try making garlicky king oyster mushroom scallops. You will discover new favourites, as well as a few not-so-delicious delicacies, on this food journey.
This one is pretty straightforward. Hiking is good for your body and mind, enriching your free time with natural beauty and fresh air. You get to go at your own pace, as far as you want for as long as you want. Follow the marked out path or strike out on your own, just remember to stay hydrated.
In the mountains, on the trail or around your neighbourhood – cycling can give you a whole new view of your world. This low-carbon emitting, high cardio hobby is sure to strengthen your body while having a minimal impact on the environment.
16. Brew Your Own Beer or Kombucha
Keen to create unique versions of your favourite fermented beverages? Try micro-brewing! Brewing beer requires a bit of a setup – but the extent of your investment is up to you. With kombucha, you only truly need a scoby to get started. You can find a scoby online, at your local health food store or ask a friend who is already a brewer.
17. Create Your Own Tea Blends
Using loose leaf tea instead of tea bags is beneficial for the environment as most tea bags contain plastic fibres and are not biodegradable. Build up your tea-apothecary with herbs, teas and even dried flowers to create your own soothing blends. Unique tea blends can also make for thoughtful gifts.
Want to reduce food waste and create something delicious? Try pickling! Almost anything can be pickled – as long the product will keep its structural integrity after pickling. A basic pickling recipe can be used for most of your produce, tweaking the flavour by adding herbs and aromatics.
Too many carrots in the fridge to use up? Pickle them with some jalapeños and garlic. A surplus of onions? Some coriander seeds and dried fennel would make them a masterpiece.
Kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, yogurt, sourdough, the list goes on! Fermentation does not only add a delicious depth of flavour to ingredients but also adds undeniable probiotic benefits. Bring your food to life and create your own ferments right at home.
20. Make Paper, from Paper
Feeling crafty but not buy-a-ton-of-stuff-to-make-more-stuff crafty? Why not recycle excess paper you already have and create something beautiful from it? Making paper from scrap paper is simple, eco-friendly and the end product is a lovely base for your artistic creations.
21. Thrifty Interior Design
Do you need to refresh your space? Try hunting for unique pieces in thrift stores, antique shops and online second-hand markets. You might find some rare treasures or a charming piece in need of a little love. You can completely renew a space without breaking the bank or growing your carbon footprint.
22. Outdoor Sports
Get some fresh air in those lungs by playing outdoor sports! Join a local club for your favourite sport and get moving. Whether you love rugby, football, basketball, field hockey, horseback riding or rock climbing, there will be others near you who would love for you to join them!
23. Knitting, Embroidery, Macrame or Crochet
Old-timey hobbies are making a come-back and for a good reason! These hobbies can usually be done from anywhere and use minimal materials to make something beautiful. Try out one of the many needle-and-thread hobbies and see which one you fall in love with.
Food and medicine are growing all around us, we just don’t recognise them. Join a foraging group, take a course or study the hidden herbs, fruits and vegetables in your area on your own. This is a highly rewarding hobby but be careful not to accidentally ingest dangerous plants or forage too close to busy roads.
25. Take up a Musical Instrument
For most of us, there has always been one instrument that intrigues us. Now is the time to try that instrument out. There might be classes in your community where you can use the facility’s resources until you purchase your own instrument. Get a feel for the harp, guitar, piano or ocarina – you might just love it!
26. Take up Arms
Feel like a badass and take up a form of self-defence or weapons training. Krav Maga, boxing, sword training, archery, self-defence, the list goes on and on. There is no shortage of options when it comes to getting strong and kicking butt.
27. Share Your Passions on Social Media
If there’s a cause close to your heart, consider sharing it online. Creating a dedicated blog or social media account can enable you to share information on what you’re passionate about and spread awareness to others. You can make a change when you pour your heart and mind into a cause.
28. Start an E-Book Club
E-books and second-hand books leave no extra impact on the earth and can be a fun way to read more with people who share your interests. You can create a group for just your friends or open it to anyone who may be interested! It is easier than ever for people anywhere in the world to share a hobby online.
29. Travel Consciously and Locally
Get to know the world around you by travelling locally. The future of tourism may be unclear but one thing isn’t – we have to travel more consciously and with greater awareness of our impact on the places we visit. Most important of all, travel safely during this pandemic and take all the necessary precautions.
30. Make Homemade Toiletries
The only sure way to control what you put on your body is by making your own toiletries. Creating lotions, scrubs and other hygiene products is a fun way to use what you already have to serve multiple purposes. Homemade toiletries also make for great gifts!
You don’t need a big yard or acres of land to compost your food waste. Find out if there are composting projects or community gardens in your area that you can take part in through composting. Keep a jar or bin reserved for compostable items in your kitchen and start composting your food waste today.
32. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language is always a worthy investment of your time. Expand your horizons by learning a language that has always captured your curiosity. Learn phrases to better communicate with those in the country you are travelling to. You can also learn a local language and connect more deeply to where you live.
33. Foreign Films
You don’t have to be a film buff to love foreign films. Don’t be intimidated by subtitles, you might just find your new favourite movie in a place you never expected. Start with the most popular, well loved foreign films and find out what you love from there.
34. Create Art From Trash
Give garbage a second life by creating art from discarded materials. A single object can take on many uses and forms once a creative eye is turned toward it. Whether you create sculptures, installation art, mixed media paintings or jewellery, you can find endless possibilities in places you least suspect.
35. Create Care Packages for the Homeless in Your Area
This may be the hobby with the most immediate impact on those around you. You can ask friends and family for donations and contribute on your own. Collect shelf-stable foods, warm clothes, blankets, hygiene products and even some tasty treats to make someone’s day.
These 35 sustainable hobbies enable you to change the world around you while having fun. Eco-friendly pass-times can expand your mind, teach you new skills, show you a new appreciation for nature, strengthen your body and connect you to your community. Don’t underestimate the impact your actions can have on the world around you.