Earth is a beautiful and unique planet. What makes it unique and different from other planets is the presence of various resources and minerals that make life on Earth possible. However, some of these natural resources that are so important for our existence (including water and fuel) are limited in nature.
Most humans disregard this fact and live an unsustainable life, which includes high energy consumption, increased carbon footprints and minimal care about maintaining the symbiotic relationship with the ecological system of our planet.
From the big corporations and organizations, various governments to normal individuals like you, we have all been careless in our approach towards nature. The ignorance towards our environment, and the wrong belief that we, as individuals, cannot do anything about it is a big reason why our atmosphere is damaged through an increased carbon footprint.
These reckless and irresponsible actions on the part of humans have been going on for many years, even centuries so to speak. Slowly but steadily, we have started to see the impacts of global warming on the rise, depleting resources and an increase in natural disasters. If you disrespect nature, it always strikes back and that is what we have been seeing in recent years.
However, all is not lost yet and revival is possible! If all the corporations, governments and every human is aware of their responsibilities and starts adhering to them by implementing a few changes in their daily lives, we could still reduce the damage we do to our planet. We can reduce our carbon footprints, help in healing mother nature and - most importantly - leave the essential resources for the generations that are to follow.
But how exactly can we do it? It’s an important question that many struggle to answer. It has various aspects, but one of the most important aspects is to live a sustainable life. Let’s dwell on this more, and guide you on how you can make minor changes to your lifestyle and live sustainably.
What is Sustainable Living?
Sustainable living simply refers to a form of lifestyle where an attempt is made to reduce the usage of natural and personal resources on a personal and societal level. By implementing small changes in what you eat, how you travel, and how much resources you consume, a sustainable lifestyle with a low carbon footprint can be achieved.
The most important factor in living a sustainable life is continuity and consistency. You cannot just save some resources for a day and claim to have contributed towards nature. Rather, you have to alter your lifestyle completely on a more regular, day-to-day basis. Only if all of us are involved in this more regularly, we can make a vital impact in countering climate change and other looming environmental threats and concerns.
You must be wondering what are these changes that are being referred to repeatedly, and how you can implement them in your life. Well, before we proceed ahead and let you know about the changes, we must let you know that some of these can be highly challenging. It is never easy to break away from your daily routine and habits, some of which you may have been doing for years.
However, if you care about the planet and are concerned about its health and the future of the upcoming generations, then you better take this as a challenge and bring in a change to your lifestyle! Here’s how you can do it.
20 Best Ways to Start Living Sustainably
There are a lot of simple steps and changes that we can do in our day-to-day lives to move in the direction of a more sustainable living. Here we are shortlisting 20 such steps in various aspects of life that you should start doing now. Contribute your bit towards the good health of mother nature and our planet and the overall welfare of the society.
1. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
When you embark on a journey to live a sustainable life, the first and the most important step should be to follow the 3 R’s, which is Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This means that you should reduce your needs and buy as few new products as possible, since producing everything requires a lot of energy.
Then, you should consider reusing or repurposing old products as much as you can. Lastly, you should aim to recycle old glass bottles, aluminum cans, paper products such as books, newspapers, and other similar products.
2. Switch to Walking and Cycling
Most of us travel to work with our vehicles or public transport. However, not only does it consume a lot of fuel and energy, but it also causes a lot of pollution in the environment due to carbon emissions. If we switch to walking or cycling to work, even once a week, we can chip in, save fuel and reduce pollution from our end.
Other than this, it comes with some personal benefits as well, since it improves your overall health and keeps you fit. Also, when traveling by car, we should try and do car-pools with friends and family as it helps in saving fuel and energy.
3. Invest in Renewable Energy
You can think about investing in using renewable sources of energy, like solar energy, to lower your carbon footprint. You can install solar panels to generate electricity and do your part for nature. It not only reduces your electricity bill, but you also get tax credits from the government and subsidies when you go out to buy the panel. Additionally, if you are using fossil fuels to generate power, switching to renewable sources can have a huge impact on stopping climate change.
4. Say no to Plastic
Plastic is very degrading to nature as it takes millions of years to decompose. In fact, plastic waste is the biggest cause of land and water pollution worldwide. It is also the primary cause of the degradation and suffering of marine life. A large number of water animals including seals, fishes, mammals, and seabirds are killed due to it.
You should immediately stop using it and switch to reusable jute or paper bags. These reusable bags have a lot of benefits and can make a lot of difference with continued usage over a long period.
5. Shift Towards Multi-use Items
We use a lot of items in our daily life that are made for a single-use. Some of these include toilet paper, paper towels, single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, and many more similar items. These items are a big curse to our nature and add a lot of pressure on the environment.
Yes, it is almost impossible to remove all of these completely, but we should try as much as we can to reduce their usage and switch to more biodegradable items that can be used multiple times such as reusable cloth and paper.
6. Reduce Buying New Clothes
Most people love to go shopping and buy a bunch of new clothes to follow the latest fashion trends. However, due to the increased demand, there is a lot of production which ultimately increases our carbon footprint and puts a lot of pressure on the environment.
But instead of buying new clothes, you should use our old clothes for as long as possible and then further donate them to the less fortunate to reduce demand and production. You should also keep in mind the fabric of the cloth you are buying, as different fabrics have different levels of impact on nature. For example, wool is very nature-friendly, and synthetic is not. So make wise choices, have reduced carbon footprint and live sustainably.
7. Make use of Daylight
You should adopt a lifestyle wherein you wake up early in the day and get to sleep early at night. This will ensure that you do most of your work during the daylight and thereby use less electricity and depend less on fossil fuels during the night.
Your electricity bills will get reduced and your light bulbs will last longer which will further help in reducing the pressure on the environment while enabling you to live a green and sustainable life.
8. Unplug your Devices
It is very common for most people to never unplug their electronic devices when they are not in use. But what many of us don’t know is that electrical appliances keep on drawing electricity even when they are switched off.
So always remember to switch off all appliances and then unplug them when they are not in use. It will save energy and reduce your electricity bill.
9. Say yes to Minimalism
Minimalism refers to prioritizing your needs over your wants. It doesn’t mean that you should start living with nothing, rather it signifies living off with as little as possible. It requires a clear mindset of being happy with what you have and only buying what you need for basic living.
A minimalist life includes avoiding buying luxury items or things that are not of much use to you and the ones without which your life won’t be affected much. It is difficult since we all have multiple wants and if we have resources, we want to fulfill them. However, it is doable if you have a strong will and understanding of the urgent need for reducing our wastage.
10. Save Water, Every Single Drop That You Can!
Whether you are drinking water, using it for washing or even while bathing, always remember not to waste it. Some of the common ways through which you can save water include taking showers for short periods, fixing leaky taps and toilets, avoiding bottled water (and the plastic that comes along) and sticking to tap water, turning off taps properly after use and being careful to avoid wastage while washing and cleaning.
11. Avoid Meat Products and try to Become a Vegetarian
The meat industry, that due to the huge demand has a very high production on the daily, is one of the most harmful industries for the environment. This industry is known to cause 15% of global greenhouse emissions. It also causes multiple problems such as habitat destruction, water wastage and pollution.
By changing to a vegetarian diet, you can reduce the demand and do a huge favor to the planet. Moreover, plant-based diets can also fulfill your protein and nutrition requirements while being environment-friendly.
12. Avoid Food Wastage
Nearly 40 percent of food goes to waste in the United States daily. This is a horrifying statistic as it throws to waste all the natural resources that were used in producing it. We all should contribute to bringing this stat down. Saving food is a key factor towards living a sustainable life, and you can avoid wastage of food by shopping smartly, cooking in less quantities, consuming your purchased items timely and by donating the excess food to the underprivileged.
13. Vote Wisely!
Many people either don’t vote at all during elections for the government or aren’t wise enough while voting. Instead of voting for your favorite representative, you should always vote for the candidate who is sincerely committed to the environmental agenda and has previously worked in favour of reducing our impact on the planet.
Whether you are voting at a community level or national level, choose candidates that raise topics and have plans or policies for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting wildlife, providing better education and health services, and fighting climate change. This shift of mindset towards electing the right candidates who work for nature is a crucial part of a sustainable lifestyle.
14. Buy Environment-friendly Products
Whenever you are buying anything, keep in mind if there is an alternate option that can be friendly for the environment. If you are buying a car, you can consider an electric, a hybrid car, or a fuel-efficient car. Similarly when you are buying appliances for your home, then you can opt for appliances with high Energy Star ratings, which signifies less power usage and more efficiency.
15. Try Composting
It seems a bit hard, but it is a very good way of contributing to a greener nature. It includes putting extra organic food in the soil, which eventually acts as a natural fertilizer and helps in keeping your garden green. Furthermore, it also reduces the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, hence saving a lot of energy that goes into processing it and reducing the build-up of methane gas.
16. Insulate your Home
By insulating your home, you can keep it cool during summers by not allowing the heat to come in. Similarly, you can keep it warm during the winter by not allowing the heat to escape. It can be a super essential way to cut down the usage of air condition systems or air heaters, hence saving energy, reducing your bills and allowing you to live sustainably.
17. Start Fixing Stop Throwing Away
A lot of us tend to throw stuff away as soon as it breaks. The common mentality is that the product might not last long once it has developed issues and we generally replace it with a new product. However, to live a sustainable life, we should try to get things fixed as it is much cheaper and elongates the life of every product.
You can even try repairing things yourself. There is a whole bunch of information available online. All that you need to do is to look it up and get on with it. Even if you are not able to repair it, then possibly you could turn it into something else which can be used with another purpose.
18. Fly Less
We have talked about adopting greener ways of transportation and preferring to walk, cycle, or carpool. However when you have to travel longer distances, you can also help in saving fuel and energy and reducing the release of carbon in the atmosphere.
If you are wondering how, did you know that flying for approximately 370 miles produces up to 0.15 metric tons of carbon? If you take a train for traveling, then the impact on nature will be significantly less.
19. Plant Trees
The best way to protect the environment and care for nature is to grow more and more trees. It stabilizes the ecosystem and improves air quality. With the increase in the overall population on earth, the number of trees has significantly gone down and it has contributed to a lot of damage to the ecology.
By planting more trees, you can help in restoring this balance and protect the environment from a lot of unwarranted damage. Besides, improved air quality will further improve your health too.
20. Buy Local
Whether you need clothes or want to buy food, you should always buy from a local store or shop to live a sustainable life. By doing this, you ensure reduced transportation emissions.
Beyond this, you end up supporting your local economy, and its growth will mean more options and better quality products.
Human actions have impacted our planet in numerous ways, and sadly most of us, whether as individuals, organizations, or as governments, have never cared about the damage these actions have caused. What faces us now are major threats including climate change and global warming. More immediately, a lot of the natural disasters that we frequently hear about are all a byproduct of our actions towards mother nature.
But all is not lost yet and we still can control a lot of things. If not at a larger scale, we should at least start from a smaller scale and start taking individual actions, such as living a sustainable life. It will need a strong mindset and some major adjustments, however, by following some of the ways mentioned above, you can surely contribute your best in making our environment more sustainable and healthy.