Have you ever thought about the impacts of how you have fun? Sometimes our hobbies can be synonymous with create waste. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve come up with this big list of low impact hobbies that are organized from low impact to least impact so you can find something fun and exciting to pick up without the guilt of waste.
Since many people have more time on their hands thanks to the quarantine, I figured some of you may be struggling to fill that time. Although not all of these hobbies are indoors, the outdoor hobbies can be done alone if needed.
Before we get into the low impact hobbies, I want to briefly mention a few hobbies that generate a lot of waste (and aren’t that productive).
Shopping as a hobby leads to impulse buys of items you don’t need which increases demand for more products. Not only do you waste money on these purchases, but you also end up cluttering your house trying to find a place for them all.
There are many arts and crafts-related hobbies that are pretty wasteful. Scrapbooking creates a lot of waste, and many decorations are glittery. Origami swans just waste a lot of paper. Cosplaying frequently involves fabrics, foam, wigs, and other materials that cannot be recycled. Plus, the costumes are reserved for special occasions.
Low Impact Hobbies
So what fun things can you do instead? These low impact hobbies still require frequent purchases and some waste, but they come will lots of benefits to balance it out.
DIY Projects and Upcycling
DIY and upcycling projects do create some waste and you may have to purchase materials, but these projects help prevent useless spending, save materials from going to waste, and can teach you various skills like woodworking, crafting, or painting.
These projects will give you a sense of satisfaction and should serve a practical purpose once completed (no 5 Minute Crafts please!). If you want, you could use these projects as gifts or sell them for extra money.
Gardening is a great low impact hobby because of the satisfaction of nurturing something and watching it grow. You’ll still have to make some recurring purchases for seeds, seedlings, soil, pots, and tools, but there isn’t much waste associated with gardening.
Gardening allows you to grow your own food and reduce your food miles to zero. You can cut out pollution and can monitor what exactly is being used on your food (fertilizers and pesticides). You can also tend to houseplants, which will greenify your indoor spaces, purify the air, and give you a reason to open the blinds and let in that natural light (save on energy bills).
Cooking and Baking
If you’ve taken up gardening, may as well learn to cook that food! Not only is cooking a great skill to have, but it is also a way to transition to healthier diet filled with plant-based whole foods instead of packaged and processed meals. Look for local ingredients and ones with the least packaging to include in your meals.
You can find cookbooks secondhand in thrift stores or search online for new recipes to try. Learn some basics or experiment with new ingredients. Try your hand at baking cakes for parties instead of buying one in a plastic container. Get into the habit of meal prepping so you’re all set for the week.
Sewing, Crocheting, and Knitting
I believe everyone should know how to sew. It is an amazing skill to have. You’ll have to make frequent purchases for things like fabric and thread or yarn, but sewing/mending projects serve good purposes. Thrift stores I’ve been to have fabric, yarn, and knitting/crocheting needles so you can pick up some necessary materials secondhand.
I haven’t tried my hand at clothing alterations or creation, but I really would love to learn. I stick to mending my clothes to lengthen their lifespans and knitting gifts for family.
Lower Impact Hobbies
These hobbies are even better on the environment than the low impact hobbies. They still may require purchases or energy use, but not as large a scale as the previous ones.
Playing an Instrument
Learning to play an instrument can be difficult, but it’s also very rewarding. I love music and played different instruments throughout my childhood including eight years of harp. While it can be sometimes frustrating to learn new pieces, it’s so satisfying to sit down and listen to the music you’re making.
You can rent instruments or find some secondhand. You can buy books of sheet music, or there’s sites like 8notes.com that have free sheet music available, including pieces especially for beginners. Learn through videos online or support a local music shop and sign up for lessons there!
Biking and Skateboarding
You can find yourself a bike or skateboard secondhand. Take a ride through your neighborhood for exercise. Teach yourself some skateboarding tricks. Enjoy being outside in the fresh air.
Beyond the enjoyment from biking or skateboarding, you can teach yourself how to properly maintain and repair them. Learn from others, ask someone at a bike or skate shop, or check out videos online.
Get yourself a secondhand camera and start shooting. You can even just start out using your phone. Photography is a great way to capture special memories or make some money. Upload stock photos online or offer your skills to others for events.
Listening to Podcasts
You can also keep yourself up to date with the news. Podcasts are free and you’ll always have them available in your pocket to put on whenever you’re bored. All you need is your phone. Spice up your commute or listen while doing chores around the house.
Some of the podcasts I listen to are:
- Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
- This American Life
- Coffee Break Spanish
- DuoLingo Spanish Podcasts
- Think: Sustainability
- Practical(ly) Zero Waste Podcast
- Laughs from the Past
Writing and Drawing
Writing is my very favorite thing to do. All you need is a computer or notebook and pen. I love writing because you can lose yourself in another world for a while and let your imagination run wild. Or you can write informative pieces like this to share with others, write a memoir or autobiography to save for posterity, or use it to destress and let out emotions (I use journaling and poetry to do that one).
If you’re artistic (or even if you aren’t), you might be interested in drawing. Find some tutorials online, draw from imagination, or copy scenes from real life. All you need is a pen/pencil and a few sheets of paper to get started. You may be able to find art supplies secondhand as well!
Least Impact Hobbies
Ready for the very best low impact hobbies? These require zero purchases and minimal resources. And they are still very fun to do!
Like listening to podcasts, reading is a great free way to learn something new or just be entertained. While you can go and purchase books, libraries are amazing resources and completely free to use. Browse books in every genre and topic you can think of and take home a few to read. You can either read for entertainment or borrow books to learn some of the skills I’ve been discussing (sewing, cooking, writing, etc.).
Some libraries also participate in programs like Hoopla (LINK) that offer a selection of ebooks you can borrow straight onto your phone or computer. They rent out movies and audiobooks too! If you want some social interaction, join a local book club and build yourself a reading community.
If you noticed from the podcast list, I’m currently learning Spanish. While I took it in high school, I didn’t do anything with it all throughout college. Now I’m excited to be learning again. I use podcasts, videos, apps, and books borrowed from the library.
To make this a least impact hobby, borrow language learning materials from the library and/or sign up for a local class. Many adult education centers and community colleges offer language classes from beginner to advanced. While the classes cost money, you are receiving knowledge from a person instead of creating a demand for a physical product that requires non-renewable resources.
Nature Watching and Hiking
I love going out into nature and exploring the world around me. We use All Trails to find hikes near us. While more strenuous hikes would require materials like hiking boots and gear, walking through nature preserves don’t need anything special.
Borrow a book from the library about plant and animal species in your area to take along. Take up bird watching and learn their different songs. Or just enjoy the fresh air, exercise, and our darn beautiful Mother Earth.
Singing and Dancing
Even if you aren’t good at it, singing and dancing are always really fun ways to relax. Throw on some music to sing along to, or get serious and sign up for voice lessons. Watch videos online or take a class to learn various forms of dance. My husband and I took a swing class last year, which didn’t require any special shoes like ballet or tap would.
Yoga and Fitness
Stay in shape and have fun at the same time. Yoga is relaxing as well as good exercise, and it doesn’t require much more than yourself. You don’t really need a yoga mat if you don’t have one.
For a harder workout, add in some cardio with jogging or at-home workouts (crunches, jumping jacks, push-ups, etc.). Even a quick 20-30 minutes a day can go a long way, not only for physical health but also for your mental health.
Lastly on our list of low impact hobbies is one that actual can have quite a large impact, just a really good one! Volunteering usually requires nothing but your time, and the end product is an improvement to someone’s day or life.
There are many places to find volunteer opportunities, such as animal shelters, food pantries, and online. Check out the websites below!
For a list of organizations focused on the environment, head over to this post.
Volunteer for something you care about, whether that’s cleaning up the environment, working with children or the elderly, or helping out with community events you enjoy. (Unfortunately, volunteer opportunities are currently pretty limited due to the coronavirus right now.)
All of these hobbies have one thing in common: learning and growing. Having that curiosity and drive to keep learning can
There are plenty of low impact hobbies out there that I’m sure you’ll find something that speaks to you. And if you get bored of one, try out another.
What are your favorite low impact hobbies? Leave a comment below!