Simple ways for a more sustainable lifestyle
What is Sustainable Living?
Living sustainably is way of life whereby one reduces the use of Earths natural resources, by making conscious choices to replace what one uses to the best of one’s ability. Sometimes that can mean not choosing to consume a product that is made unsustainably, and sometimes it means changing consumption and daily habits with the goal of becoming more of an active part of the cycle of life.
Climate change, global warming, depletion of the ozone layer, and resource depletion is now accepted as real, with sometimes devastating impacts on human and animal lives. Now is the need more than ever for people to adopt ways for sustainable living, that can help us reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact, and to move towards a way of life more in natural balance and with a respect of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth’s ecology and cycles.
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
Simple things like increased use of public transport, reduction of energy consumption, and becoming more eco-conscious can go a long way in helping to create a greener and fulfilling lifestyle.
Want to start living more sustainably? You have more power than you may think. There are many ways to live and practice sustainable living, some may have limitations based on where you might live, but here are several quick and easy ideas to help with heading down a better path.
1. Community Gardens
Not just about growing your own food, participating in a community garden can help to promote sustainable living in your area. Gardens create green spaces and garden waste can be mulched and returned to support healthy soil.
Besides being good for your state of mind; in urban areas green spaces play a part in offsetting carbon emissions.
Minimalism doesn’t mean living with little – it means making sure that everything is put to its maximum purpose or use.
This also means reducing waste materials and recycling more.
Changing bulbs from traditional to CFL and LED’s, and making use of skylights and natural light, significantly reduces the demand for energy resources. It can also reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
4. Efficient Errands
Becoming more efficient with errands is a simple way to support a sustainable lifestyle based on reducing the number of natural resources used fo an activity.
5. Natural Cleaners
Use home-made options for natural cleaners. Vinegar and water can clean most surfaces, and the saponin from quinoa is a natural laundry detergent, for example.
Using natural cleaners greatly reduces the production and consumption of plastic packaging, including the amount of chemicals introduced into the water system.
6. Read and Playing Games
Reducing reliance on entertainment forms like TV, that require energy and consumption of natural resources, playing games and reading can help to lighten our load on the environment.
7. Natural Sleep Schedules
Having a natural sleep schedule means being more attuned to the days natural light. Not only is this better for health, but it also lessens the amount of power uses during the night.
8. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Reduce the need to buy new products. Less waste means less to recycle. Reusing items, or repurposing them for different uses can significantly reduce one’s impact.
Recycling glass bottles and aluminium cans is easy, and make more trips to the recycling station than to the landfill.
9. Walk, Bike or Carpool
If you cannot walk somewhere, then ride your bike. If you cannot ride your bike, then carpool. Not only will this reduce pollution and the consumption of natural resources, but it’s healthier and thus reduces the demand on public health resources.
10. Unplug Devices
Most electronic devices draw electricity even when not in use. Simply pulling the plug when not in use will help to save energy and reduce the monthly electricity bill.
11. Right-sized Houses
A small house will consume less energy compared to a larger one, on so many levels. Not only does it mean less lighting and heating, but also less construction resources, and less furniture and overall finishing and furnishing.
Purchasing items from thrift stores and donating them back when they’re no longer needed helps, and when building use green ideas and techniques.
12. Use Daylight
Sunlight is free and doesn’t cost anything. Using sunlight to its max helps to reduce fossil fuel consumption to produce electricity, and bulb will last longer.
13. Unwanted Mail
Opt-out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, promotions and circulars, and thousands of other unasked-for mailings that clutter the mailbox.
14. No Plastic
Plastic never goes away, taking millions of years to decompose. Somehow plastics always find their way into our oceans, to the detriment of marine life. Every year a large number of mammals, seals and sea birds die after ingesting plastic or getting tangled in it.
15. Renewable Energy
Choose renewable energy over fossil fuels whenever possible, like using solar panels for solar water heating.
Look into tax credit options for sustainable energy use or production, and one’s utility company might have options for you to add clean power to the grid which helps to offset carbon footprint.
16. Less Packaging
Always try to buy products that use less packaging. Excessive or unnecessary packaging means unnecessary production, and unnecessary recycling or trash.
17. Washing Habits
Most of us wash everything too much. Not only has science discovered that our over-emphasis on being clean has reduced our natural immune resistance to diseases, but a tremendous amount of water is used for bathing, wash dishes and doing laundry.
Shorter showers, washing dishes in a sink of water and then rinsing them, and reducing laundry all add up to shrinking one’s use of precious resources.
18. Single-use Items
Just try to say no to single-use items like plastic straws, paper towels, plastic grocery bags, and plastic cutlery, for example.
19. Replace Disposables
Replace disposable products with reusable ones. This can include towels, shopping bags, razors, cups, plates, food storage, diapers, batteries, writing pens, ink cartridges, coffee filters, and furnace or air conditioner filters. The list is long. And use refurbished, local or used products when possible.
20. Reusable Shopping Bags
Use your own reusable shopping bags.
21. Sustainable Technologies
Use of rechargeable batteries. Use the search engine Ecosia, which runs on 100% renewable energy and plants trees with some profits. Use solar energy chargers. Donate old devices to disadvantaged kids or NGO’s. Dispose of electronic items to local waste recycling programs.
Set your own time, whether it be a day or an afternoon or an hour a week, and give yourself and the planet a break. During this time don’t buy anything, don’t use any machines, don’t switch electrical items, don’t cook, don’t answer your phone, means don’t use any resources. Just be.
Every hour in a week can cut ones carbon emissions by 0.6 percent annually. Committing to four hours a week, increases this to 2.4 percent, and for a whole day, each week’s impact will be 14.4 percent a year. It adds up . . .
Books, magazines, movies, games, and newspapers can be easily shared between friends and neighbours. If you need something temporarily, lend from a friend or neighbour.
Replace paper napkins and towels with cloth napkins and towels. And old t-shirts can work well for cleaning, mopping or dusting. Just wash and reuse.
Install a bidet and use bleach-free, 100% post-consumer recycled toilet paper.
Envelopes, wrappers, the front of gift cards or postcards, and other paper materials can make perfect note pads.
Use a digital organiser for to-do’s and grocery lists.
Read books, magazines, and newspapers from the local library or online.
Print documents on once-used paper, on both sides, or on bleach-free recycled paper.
25. Green Building
Use eco-friendly flooring materials like straw bale, bamboo, true (natural) linoleum and previously used wood.
Use eco-cement, energy-efficient windows, green insulation, solar-powered water heating, energy star appliances, and lowest-flow toilets.
26. Your Own
Make your own stuff. Like non-toxic homemade cleaning products, natural body products, personal care products, and other utility products.
27. Finally, Food
“The world is producing the wrong kind of food, by a process that leaves millions of people landless, homeless, cashless, and unable to feed themselves.” – Anita Roddick.
A vegetarian or vegan diet is a powerful way to ones improve health, ensure everyone has enough to eat, and help protect our natural environment. Switch to an animal-free diet as much as possible.