We all like to believe that we live ethical, thoughtful lives that don’t cause any damage to the Earth. But this may not always be the case. These days, we’re far more aware of our individual impact on the environment than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we’re all willing to let go of our old habits right away.
Take buying a drink from the grocery store, for example. Most of us wouldn’t think twice before grabbing a bottle of water or our favorite soda from the fridge. But do we really consider what goes into making that beverage, from ingredient air miles to the fact that this bottle will take hundreds of years to decompose? Perhaps not.
Fortunately, we can do a number of things to offset the damage we could do to our planet just by living our daily lives. Being more thoughtful of our choices is called sustainable living, which we’ll explore throughout this article.
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living involves minimizing our use of natural resources by using goods as mindfully as we can. Sometimes that means avoiding products made using unsustainable practices. Sometimes it involves changing our daily habits so we play a more positive role in the Earth’s cycle of life.
Sustainability is vital to the health of our planet and future generations. If we leave behind a planet with an atmosphere that is filled with poisonous chemicals, we put the health of our great-grandchildren at risk.
While the idea of living sustainably may sound like a lot of work, it often comes with huge benefits. Aside from using fewer of Earth’s resources, you’ll also likely live a healthier life. By learning more about the things you consume, you’ll likely discover more about the dangerous chemicals and unhealthy ingredients in everyday food, toiletries, cosmetics, and cleaning products.
What are some examples of sustainable living?
To live sustainably is to live in a way that meets all of your natural human needs without using resources that could potentially harm the planet. Some examples of sustainable living include:
Eating less meat: Red meat, in particular, is a huge culprit of energy waste, not to mention methane emissions. Beef production uses 28 times more land and 11 times more water than other types of livestock, and therefore creates 5 times more greenhouse gases and 6 times more nitrogen.
Walking or cycling short distances: Not only does it help reduce car emissions, but it’s also better for your physical health!
Unplugging electronics overnight: Did you know that your kettle, toaster, and phone charger still use energy when they’re plugged in, even if you’re not using them? Simply unplugging them from the wall can help you save energy (and money!).
Investing in a pressure cooker: You’ll reduce your cooking time and reduce the energy you use to prepare meals by up to 70%.
Repurposing goods: Reuse old jars, fabric, and furniture when possible.
Reusable cups: Bring your own coffee cup and reusable cutlery to cafes to reduce your single-use plastic consumption.
Use reusable bags: Carry foldable tote bags to avoid having to use plastic bags at the grocery store. Not only are tote bags an easy-to-store alternative to plastic, but they’re also a great opportunity to show off your favorite design!
Choosing eco-friendly and/or recyclable options: It’s easier than ever to switch your everyday products to a brand that uses recyclable packaging or offers zero-waste options.
How can fashion be more sustainable?
Sustainable fashion is about producing clothes, accessories, and shoes in an environmentally and socio-economically sustainable manner. Fast fashion is a huge contributor to the environmental crisis; it’s responsible for around 10% of all global carbon emissions and 20% of wastewater. This wastewater contains harmful chemicals and microplastics, which harm local and global waterways.
Sustainable fashion creates fashionable clothing with environmental and socio-economic impacts in mind. It’s also about implementing more sustainable consumption and use patterns.
Here are some specific ways a company might produce more sustainable items of clothing:
- Sourcing raw materials locally to reduce each item’s carbon footprint.
- Ensuring the careful and efficient use of natural resources like energy, water, land, plants, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
- Opting for renewable energy sources in factories, warehouses, stock rooms, and retail stores.
- Producing clothing that will last so that consumers are not driven to re-purchase but instead can wear something for years.
- Providing customers with repair services where relevant.
- From a socio-economic perspective, ensuring that all workers involved receive fair wages and work in safe, sanitary conditions.
- Upholding a firm code of ethics from the first few stitches of a garment right down to the end of the production line and eventual point of sale.
You can choose more sustainable fashion by purchasing from environmentally conscious brands and by purchasing quality, long-lasting items and thrifting.
What are the three principles of sustainability?
There are three principles, or pillars, of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social. If any one pillar is weak, the whole system can become unsustainable.
Economic sustainability is about incentivizing businesses and corporations to adhere to sustainability rules beyond their normal requirements. Economic sustainability also inspires individuals to do what they can for the greater good. The idea behind economic sustainability is to give people a reason to live with the future in mind.
Environmental sustainability is less based on money and more on the future state of our planet. It identifies how we should protect air quality, diverse ecosystems, and natural resources. Environmentalism focuses on how everyday actions can harm our environment and searches for alternative ways to live.
Social sustainability expresses the importance of maintaining access to basic, life-sustaining resources without compromising our quality of life. It’s about identifying and managing the positive and negative impacts businesses have on people. Companies can affect what happens to employees, customers, and their local communities, and it’s important to monitor these impacts while educating people on our current climate situation.
What are five ways to help the environment?
Aside from doing things like avoiding red meat and walking or cycling instead of driving, there are plenty of other ways to help the environment. These daily changes don’t have to be dramatic; they often just involve a simple swap.
Buying fair-trade products when possible ensures farmers are paid fair prices, giving the industry security in an ever-changing environment. This financial protection, along with higher quality standards and organic production, makes fair-trade the best option for our planet and its inhabitants.
Cooking at home is also a great way to prevent waste and help the environment. If you take it one step further and cook meals in bulk, your meals will end up cheaper, both from the reduced energy used and the ingredients.
Shopping locally is another way to live more sustainably. If you’re able to buy from shops nearby, it saves you having to travel far and supports produce with low air miles.
Making your own products; for instance, you can make your own body scrubs by mixing four parts used coffee grounds, one part sugar, and one part coconut oil. Store your mixture in a jar and you’ve got a super cheap, long-lasting product made from the waste from your morning coffee!
Going paperless with the companies who regularly contact you. You can change your preferences with your bank’s communication so that they email you rather than send you letters.
17 ways to start living sustainably today
Here are 17 easy ways to start living sustainably today:
- Reduce your energy usage by turning lights off when you’re not using them.
- Change your lightbulbs to more energy-efficient ones.
- Set your thermostat one degree lower than usual in the winter and one degree higher in summer.
- Hang clothes out to dry rather than using your dryer when the weather is good.
- Reduce your water usage by taking shorter showers and reusing gray water. If you cook pasta, potatoes, rice, or anything starchy, set this water aside and use it to water your plants. They’ll love the nutrients, provided you don’t salt the water. If you have a freshwater fish tank, use the water you change on your plants inside or out to see them thrive!
- Reduce how frequently you wash your clothes – you know when an item really needs a wash and when it doesn’t.
- Limit the use of hot water when hand washing your dishes.
- Use a dishwasher instead of handwashing – yes, being lazy will actually pay off here!
- Reduce your food waste by cooking only what you need.
- Start composting if you have a large yard; just make sure your compost heap isn’t too close to the house.
- Recycle everything you possibly can – you’d be surprised how much you can recycle when you’re mindful about it!
- Buy second-hand, whether it’s your clothes, crockery, books, or furniture. You can find a great deal and save the planet.
- Ditch single-use plastics or buy compostable single-use plastic bags if you need to use them (such as trash bags and pet waste bags).
- Consider using soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars. Many body product companies today offer compact tins for storing your shampoo bars.
- Ditch the single-use make-up removing wipes. You can remove your make-up just as well with some cleanser and a washable face flannel!
- Use multipurpose bathroom products to save you from buying a different product for every cleaning task.
- Use recycled toilet paper with plastic-free packaging.
As we’ve seen, there are plenty of ways we can live more sustainably in our daily lives, but number one on that list is to change your energy usage.
Many households and businesses rely on fossil fuels to supply their energy, but this is no longer necessary. Renewable energy is becoming more widely available and commonly used by utility companies, and with Inspire Clean Energy, you can access 100% clean, renewable energy in minutes. Switching to a more environmentally friendly energy option is one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably without changing your daily life.
If you’re ready to drastically cut your carbon footprint, click here to get a customized quote on an unlimited energy subscripion. The sign-up form takes only a few minutes, and you’ll receive a fixed monthly price, so you pay the same no matter how much energy you use.
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