130+ Eco-Friendly Quotes on Sustainable Living, Recycling and the Environment

Meaningful words and quotes to inspire a better world for people and nature alike

By Lifestyle Guide

February 26 2021

It sometimes seems as though we are too caught up with the daily worries of life that we forget there are huge problems lurking around that, if unaddressed, would have disastrous effects on everyone with no exception. Nature has no regard for your wealth and status, your religion or the colour of your skin.

Indeed, while many of us have already started taking small actions on our own to reduce waste and consumption, it is still lacking with much more to be done before we can see positive changes. 

That said, it's essential to stay motivated and be persistent in our efforts no matter what challenges lie ahead while continuing to inspire others to do the same. Use this curated collection of eco-friendly quotes on sustainable living, recycling and the environment that may help give you a boost. 

I hope these quotes will inspire you to reflect and to take even more sustainable actions.

Sustainable Living Quotes

1. “The thing that I champion is sustainability. My terror is that suddenly we see it as a luxury, not an essential. That’s a danger.” – Kevin McCloud

2. “Sustainability has to be a way of life to be a way of business.” – Anand Mahindra

3. “Sustainability, ensuring the future of life on Earth, is an infinite game, the endless expression of generosity on behalf of all.” – Paul Hawken

4. “Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward.” – Yvon Chouinard

5. “I like to envision the whole world as a jigsaw puzzle … If you look at the whole picture, it is overwhelming and terrifying, but if you work on your little part of the jigsaw and know that people all over the world are working on their little bits, that’s what will give you hope.” – Jane Goodall

6. “Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm. It’s about doing more good.” – Jochen Zeitz

7. “The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of the rest of life as possible.” – Edward O. Wilson

8. “As a culture or a civilisation, we are a bit juvenile; it’s like ‘Oh, I have all this power, whoa, this is so cool, I can transform the earth and I can produce all this wealth. But we’re blinded by our success in a naive way. There’s more to life, actually, and I think the sustainability issue is also helpful in reminding us about that.” – Tino Sehgal

9. “Your money is power, so be aware of the products you’re buying and the companies you’re supporting to make sure you’re helping the companies that are leading the way in sustainability.” – Gretchen Bleiler

10. “The best friend of earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

11. “We all need to work together, because there are no jobs on a dead planet; there is no equity without rights to decent work and social protection, no social justice without a shift in governance and ambition, and, ultimately, no peace for the peoples of the world without the guarantees of sustainability.” – Sharan Burrow

12. “The notion of ‘reduce and refine’ is one I’ve pursued. I truly believe that by making things less complex, by finding innovative ways to make sustainability affordable, we can advance the notion that it is possible.” – Yves Behar

13. “Sustainability makes good business sense, and we’re all on the same team at the end of the day. That’s the truth about the human condition.” – Paul Polman

14. “Many people still believe that ‘green’ solutions are too expensive, but they are actually much cheaper when all of the costs to public health, social services, and waste handling are factored into the same equation.” – Majora Carter

15. “You have to hold yourself accountable for your actions, and that’s how we’re going to protect the Earth.” – Julia Butterfly Hill

16. “Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.” – David Suzuki

17. “Spend some time outdoors exploring where you live. When you love your home, you’ll fight harder to protect it.” – Kira Simpson

18. “Sustainability is important because we all are responsible to nourish our planet. And real food should be delicious, safe, affordable, and accessible to all. All without compromise.” – Denise Morrison

19. “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” – David Attenborough

20. “We can sit back, do nothing and watch our planet be destroyed. Or we can take action, become advocates and start making lifestyle choices which are kinder to people and the planet.” – Kira Simpson

21. “I feel it is urgently necessary to train people who are capable of tackling the various problems we face today in regards to environmental turmoil and the relevancy of clothing.” – Issey Miyake

22. “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan

23. “Look after the land and the land will look after you, destroy the land and it will destroy you.” – Aboriginal Proverb

24. It angers me when sustainability gets used as a buzz word. For 90 percent of the world, sustainability is a matter of survival. – Cameron Sinclair

25. “If people are prepared to eat locally and seasonally, then they probably do pretty well in terms of environmental impact.” – Peter Singer

26. “The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.” – Paul Hawken

27. “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” – George Carlin

28. “If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it…one step at a time.” – Marian Wright Edelman

29. “Sustainability can’t be like some sort of a moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. It has to be a design challenge.” – Bjarke Ingels

30. “You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honourably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.” – Edward O. Wilson

31. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson

32. “Every time we consume meat, eggs or dairy foods, we contribute to ecological devastation and the wasteful misuse of resources on a global scale.” – Ingrid Newkirk

33. “Buy less, choose well, make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood

34. “Being green is more than just buying ‘eco’. It is an unshakable commitment to a sustainable lifestyle.” – Jennifer Nini

35. “If we each take responsibility in shifting our own behavior, we can trigger the type of change that is necessary to achieve sustainability for our race or this planet. We change our planet, our environment, our humanity every day, every year, every decade, and every millennia.” – Yehuda Berg

36. “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” – Stewart Udall

37. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

38. “Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.” – Sylvia Earle

39. “The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” —Gaylord Nelson

40. “In terms of sustainability and what we eat and what its footprint is on the environment and the consequences of eating one thing versus another, obviously it makes a lot of sense to be eating insects. They’re incredibly plentiful. They’ve got a very short turnover rate. You could be eating termites.” – Mary Roach

41. “When we think about the trends that millennials are taking toward simplicity, I think it’s indicative of a cultural shift toward less of the ‘more is more’ for materialism sake and more of an emphasis on efficiency, value, and sustainability.” – Bobby Berk

42. “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” – Mahatma Gandhi

43. “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.” – Jane Goodall

44. “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan

45. “We only get a handful of decades on earth, I’d rather spend that time doing good than perpetuating bad.” – Tim Silverwood

46. “Issues relating to global health and sustainability must stay high on the agenda if we are to cope with an ageing and ever-increasing population, with growing pressure on resources, and with rising global temperatures. The risks and dangers need to be assessed and then confronted.” – Martin Rees

47. The future will either be green or not at all. – Bob Brown

48. “Sustainability is the key to our survival on this planet and will also determine success on all levels.” – Shari Arison

Recycling Quotes

49. “The purpose – where I start – is the idea of use. It is not recycling, it’s reuse.” – Issey Miyake

50. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

51. “I would rather see us recycle fewer things well, than more things poorly.” – David Allaway

52. “The recycling movement is floundering, and its survival depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing. How can you build a sustainable city with a strategy that can't even sustain itself?” – John Tierney

53. “We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name – we call it recycling.” – Neil LaBute

54. “If you're not buying recycled products, you're not really recycling.” – Ed Begley, Jr.

55. “Even when we think or talk about recycling, lots of recyclable stuff ends up getting incinerated or in landfills and leaving many municipalities, diversion rates – they leave much to be recycled. And where is this waste handled? Usually in poor communities.” – Majora Carter

56. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

57. “Waste does not exist in nature because ecosystems reuse everything that grows in a never-ending cycle of efficiency and purpose.” – Frans van Houten

58. “We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.” – Terry Swearingen

59. “There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.” – Gaylord Nelson

60. “All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.” – Victor Hugo

61. “There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.” – Annie Leonard

62. “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.” – Pete Seeger

63. “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn

64. “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” – Ross Perot

65. “When you put the whole picture together, recycling is the right thing to do.” – Pam Shoemaker

66. “Reducing our levels of consumption will not be a sacrifice but a bonus if we simply redefine the meaning of the word ‘success.” – David Wann

67. “Consume less; share better.” – Hervé Kempf

68. “We don’t need more recycling, we need a completely different system of closed-loop manufacturing, and no matter how many cans I crush, my personal actions at the consumer level are of very little importance in getting us there.” – Alex Steffen

69. “People ‘over-produce’ pollution because they are not paying for the costs of dealing with it.” – Ha-Joon Chang

70. “When you refuse to reuse it's our Earth you abuse.” – Anonymous

71. “Be part of the solution, not part of the pollution.” – Anonymous

72. “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed or removed from production.” – Pete Seeger

73. “The most sustainable way is to not make things. The second most sustainable way is to make something very useful, to solve a problem that hasn’t been solved.” – Thomas Sigsgaard

74. “Recycling is more than just a response to the environmental crisis and has assumed a symbolic role in beginning to change the nature of western societies and the culture of consumerism. Indeed many environmentalists assume that there will be an inevitable shift from our "throwaway" society to a post-industrial "recycling" society of the future.” – Matthew Gandy

75. “Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to be dispersed because we've been ignorant of their value.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

76. “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify, simplify! Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.” – Henry Thoreau

77. “It makes a big difference to recycle. It makes a big difference to use recycled products. It makes a big difference to reuse things, to not use the paper cup – and each time you do, that’s a victory.” – Emily Deschanel

78. “There must be more to life than having everything!” – Maurice Sendak

79. “I imagine a future with no waste; material innovations have already become exponentially more vast, and I do think the future needs to be cradle to cradle. If designed properly, one product could be used for many years before needing to be recycled, or its components reused.” – Yves Behar

80. “Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle.” – Pope John Paul II

81. “A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.” – John Sawhill

82. “We have to cultivate contentment with what we have. We really don’t need much. When you know this, the mind settles down. Cultivate generosity. Delight in giving. Learn to live lightly. In this way, we can begin to transform what is negative into what is positive. This is how we start to grow up.” – Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

83. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

84. “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale

85. “While recycling is great in a lot of ways, the ultimate goal is to get people to prevent waste in the first place.” – McKenzie Jones

86. “Recycling, packaging, businesses are changing all of those things because that’s what consumers want.” – Jerry Greenfield

87. “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

88. “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” – Aldo Leopold

89. “Societies only have waste products while acquiring fresh raw material remains a cheaper option than recycling.” Peter F.Hamilton

90. “In our rich consumers’ civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions.” – Max Lerner

91. “When people realize responsible recycling is not only the right thing to do for the environment and for future humankind, but that it also makes money for the town, they know it's just better for all of us.” – Michael Serra

92. “We can’t just consume our way to a more sustainable world.” – Jennifer Nini

Environment Quotes

93. “For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.” – Rachel Carson

94. “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.” – E. O. Wilson

95. “Environment is no one’s property to destroy; it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect.” – Mohith Agadi

96. “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” – Lady Bird Johnson

97. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

98. “It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” – David Attenborough

99. “To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” —Helen Keller

100. “The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.” —John Paul II

101. “If you really think the environment is less important than the economy try holding your breath while you count your money.”

102. “We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.” —Barbara Ward

103. “Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge.” – Thomas Edison

104. “Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” —Stewart Udall

105. “Nature provides a free lunch, but only if we control our appetites.” – William Ruckelshaus

106. “He that plants trees loves others beside himself.” – Thomas Fuller

107. “A margin of life is developed by Nature for all living things – including man. All life forms obey Nature’s demands – except man, who has found ways of ignoring them.” – Eugene M. Poirot

108. “It is our collective and individual responsibility … to preserve and tend to the world in which we all live.” —Dalai Lama

109. “We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold

110. “The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves.” – Wangari Maathai  

111. “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” —Franklin D. Roosevelt

112. “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.” – Cree Indian Proverb

113. “When the soil disappears, the soul disappears.” – Ymber Delecto

114. “We live in a culture where people are more offended by ‘swear’ words and middle fingers than they are by famine, warfare and the destruction of our environment.” – Unknown

115. “Caring for the Earth is not a hippie thing, it’s a survival thing.” – Unknown

116. “We are not above nature, we are a part of nature.” – Jennifer Nini

117. “How long can men thrive between walls of brick, walking on asphalt pavements, breathing the fumes of coal and of oil, growing, working, dying, with hardly a thought of wind, and sky, and fields of grain, seeing only machine-made beauty, the mineral-like quality of life?” – Charles A. Lindbergh

118. “The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.” – Carl Sagan

119. “Forests and meat animals compete for the same land. The prodigious appetite of the affluent nations for meat means that agribusiness can pay more than those who want to preserve or restore the forest. We are, quite literally, gambling with the future of our planet – for the sake of hamburgers.” – Peter Singer

120. “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson

121. “An act of violence against nature should be judged as severely as that against society or another person.” – Dr. Michael W.Fox

122. “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” – Thomas Fuller

123. "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

124. “We can never have enough of Nature.” – Henry David Thoreau

125. “The single biggest threat to our planet is the destruction of habitat and along the way loss of precious wildlife. We need to reach a balance where people, habitat, and wildlife can co-exist – if we don’t everyone loses … one day.” —Steve Irwin

126. “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” – Chief Seattle

127. “The natural environment sustains the life of all beings universally.” – Dalai Lama

128. “Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air or drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something.” —Carl Sagan

129. “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” – Dr. Edward O. Wilson

130. “Where the quality of life goes down for the environment, the quality of life goes down for humans.” – George Holland

131. “All I want is to stand in a field and to smell green, to taste air, to feel the earth want me, without all this concrete hating me.” – Phillip Pulfrey

132. “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

133. “We can never have enough of Nature.” – Henry David Thoreau

134. “The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.” – Luther Standing Bear

135. “We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.” —Stephen Hawking