Urban Granola’s Nic Shares Her Tips For Living Greener In The City

The Green Hub

I don’t believe it’s any harder to live sustainably in the city than say a regional centre or country town (or a tropical island for that matter) but the approach to living sustainably is different.

On one hand I think the faster pace of city life and having convenience at your doorstep (hello 4,000 different food delivery services!) can encourage laziness and over consumption but on the other hand, living in the city gives you access and options that you just don’t get regionally. Access to bulk food stores, farmers markets, health food stores, a vast array of vegan options, public transport, a larger more diverse community and education.

These are important and vital tools for living sustainably and it’s uplifting to see how much this market has grown in the last few years.

green living tips

"The trick to living a greener life is to keep it simple ."

I live in Melbourne, in a suburb 7 kms from the CBD and I always say it’s like a country town.

We can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone we know, we don’t own a car and walk everywhere, we are friendly with all our favourite food stall holders at the market where we shop and I’m part of a wonderful group of local women in ethical fashion that meet up monthly.

I personally believe it’s easier to foster a community of like-minded people in a city. I do hear people say that can’t live a green life because they live in the city and it’s just not true, anyone can make positive changes, you don’t need to live off the grid and grow all your own food (wonderful if you can do that though!).

The trick to living a greener life is to keep it simple because even the most virtuous person isn’t going to stick to anything complicated (regardless of where you live).

These are my main steps to living greener in the city:

Water bottles

It’s so easy to buy a nice looking reusable bottle. There is absolutely no reason to buy bottled water in Australia unless you are stranded in the desert with no water and you happen upon a vending machine. We have clean safe, water available for free, drink it!

Coffee cups

Buy a reusable coffee cup for your bag, office and home. If you forget one either sit in the cafe or forgo the coffee.

Shopping bags

Carry calico/fabric shopping bags everywhere. I stuff them in my handbag, gym bag and suitcases otherwise I forget. If you have a car or bike keep them there too.

Local produce

Melbourne is particularly good at this but if you don’t have a great farmers market nearby, try to shop at the locally owned fruit and veg shop and butcher.


If you are physically able to, hit the pavement! If you can’t walk, ride or catch public transport. Save on emissions and get fitter in the process, double win. I don’t own a car, haven’t for about 7 years now and I don’t miss it at all.

Be organised

I tend to make poor choices when I’m unorganised. Plan ahead for the week, write shopping lists, pack lunches and buy only what you need etc. You will save money, reduce waste and not be tempted to buy plastic wrapped food on the go at lunch.

Store food properly

I’ve started using The Swag bags for store fruit and vegetables. Using Swag bags (made of cotton) to store everything plus a few other storage tricks, means I’m getting a week or two out of my fruit and veg and reducing the amount of food waste in my home (I even had a bunch of coriander last two weeks!).

Buy in bulk

Refilling dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, hand wash and body wash at bulk stores. I’m fortunate to have two shops walking distance from me: The Source Bulk Foods and Shop Neutral. However, due to a rise in popularity (yay!) there are plenty of different bulk stores popping up everywhere.



"I’m not perfect, I regularly stuff up and forget."

Here are some of my recent challenges

Remembering to say no to straws, I often get caught out so I try to stick to drinking wine when I’m out to avoid the “no straw please” request altogether.

Composting, oh how I want to compost! This is where living inner city does become a little challenging, lack of yard space and local amenities (council compost pick up and local gardening clubs). I tried the Bokashi bin, I quickly ran out of garden space to bury the compost.

I’m waiting for my recently purchased worm farm to arrive (from Compost Revolution – head to the website to find out if your local council is part of this program). This is a much better option for people with small gardens and apartments, however you can’t compost everything.

Giving in to my inner consumer and buying fast fashion because I like it, it looks cool and I live in the shopping capital of Australia with pretty stores at the end of my street. I really don’t think this is a good enough reason and I definitely need to do better here.

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The Green Hub is a place where you can be inspired to live a little more sustainably, in a way which fits with your unique lifestyle. We share the latest brands, research, tips and guides to help empower you to make lifestyle choices which are kinder to people and the planet.