Do you ever pause to think about how your actions affect the planet? Or how you can make the earth a better place to live in? In our everyday lives, we make choices that affect our environment in one way or another. From the food we eat to our shopping habits, they all affect the planet. To honor World Environment Day, which was on the 5th of June 2021, today we shall discuss how to be more environmental friendly and learn how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and thus make the world a better place.
But what does it mean to be sustainable? How can you live sustainably? Sustainable living means reducing the natural resources you use so these resources will continue being available for future generations. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle also involves making positive changes in your day-to-day life that help reduce your carbon footprint, and thus, combat climate change. Some of the ways to be more sustainable are discussed below.
10 Ways to Adopt a More Sustainable Lifestyle
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle
Deposition of solid waste is one of the biggest causes of water and soil pollution. However, some of the things we throw away that later end up in landfills or waterways can be repurposed or recycled. A few ways to be more sustainable when disposing off items are;
- Instead of throwing away old clothes, one can make items such as napkins and rugs,
- Recycle plastics, tetra packs, cardboard, foil, and electronic gadgets, instead of throwing them away,
- Buy used items instead of new ones,
- Choose to reduce the amount of waste you create by limiting buying things you don’t need, and
- Think twice before throwing away pollutants.
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- Conserve water
This is an obvious practice to adopt if you want to use resources sustainably. Good quality water has become a scarce resource in recent years, and yet so many people continue to misuse it, either by polluting it, leaving taps running for longer than needed, or using too much of it. Adopt these sustainable practices to conserving water;
- Taking shorter showers,
- Fixing leaking taps and toilets,
- Using only the amount of water you need,
- Getting low-flow shower heads and taps,
- Reusing water, and
- Avoid buying bottled drinking water as it leads to more pollution. You can carry your own refillable water containers whenever you have to go out instead.
- Sustainable grocery shopping
Have you ever considered the environmental impact of your shopping habits? Sustainable shopping involves buying products that do not negatively impact the environment during the entire process of growing, processing, packaging and transporting. Some sustainability tips to use when doing your grocery shopping include;
- Check the labels on products for certification. Look for goods with the Fairtrade mark. These are sold by companies that are not only dedicated to sustainable production but also pay fair wages to their employees.
- Although they might cost you a little more, choose organic foodstuffs as they are grown using only natural farm inputs.
- Select products with eco-friendly packaging to be more sustainable. For instance, beeswax wraps, wood, bamboo, paper, mushroom root, bagasse, banana and palm leaves, et cetera.
- Instead of buying imported products, opt to buy locally grown items.
- Reduce your consumption of meat as its production is a major contributor to air, soil, and water pollution. According to FAO, the meat industry, especially beef, contributes up to 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
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- Eliminate the use of plastics
Most plastics are non-biodegradable, and their accumulation poses a threat to the planet. For instance, a lot of plastic materials end up in the ocean and other water bodies, thus endangering marine life. Some sustainability tips to avoid worsening the already dire situation and eliminate your usage of plastic containers and bags include;
- Choosing reusable shopping bags,
- Buying unwrapped products,
- Switching plastic Tupperware for glass, paper, cotton, or steel,
- Not using single-use plastic items such as straws, disposable cups, and water bottles,
- Switching from disposable diapers to cloth, and
- If you are female, reduce plastic waste from menstrual and sanitary products by choosing more environmentally friendly alternatives such as plastic-free pads and tampons, reusable pads, period panties, or menstrual cups.
- Sustainable fashion
According to statistics, the fashion industry contributes up to 10% of global emissions, leads to water pollution and wastage, and has also led to some wildlife species becoming endangered.
Other than that, a large percentage of garbage in landfills consists of textiles. Washing clothes also leads to the accumulation of micro-plastics from detergents going into the ocean. Wearing sustainable fashion is one way to start living sustainably. You can become more sustainable when shopping for clothes by;
- Boycotting wildlife products such as leather, wool, and fur clothing,
- Donating your used/old clothes,
- Repairing your clothes instead of throwing them away,
- Buying from eco-friendly clothing brands,
- Buying only the number of clothes you need,
- Purchasing clothes that work for all seasons, and
- Pause to consider alternative options before throwing anything out.
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- Use alternative energy sources
Using renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and biogas, not only reduces energy costs but also your carbon footprint. For instance, to make your home greener and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, you could;
- Install solar panels for lighting, heating, and water pumping,
- Make biogas for electricity and cooking
- Save energy by using LED energy-saver bulbs,
- Insulate your house,
- Switch off appliances when not using them, and
- Reduce energy use by hanging clothes out to dry instead of using a drier or hand washing clothes and dishes instead of the washing machine and dishwasher, respectively.
- Drive less
Vehicles are another contributor to global warming because they emit greenhouse gases. To live sustainably, opt to walk or ride a bike if the place you are going to is not too far away. You can also use public transport instead of driving if the distance is farther.
- Adopt a minimalist lifestyle
If you don’t own a lot, you won’t have anything to throw away or waste. Becoming a minimalist is one of the many ways to be more sustainable. Minimalism promotes consciously buying and keeping only the stuff that serves a purpose in your home.
As a minimalist, you would also prefer quality over quantity. This not only means you do not have excess items to throw away but also have more durable items.
- Use less toxic products
The products we use in our houses can negatively impact the environment. For example, using cleaning detergents that contain toxic chemicals eventually contaminates waterways affecting aquatic life. The detergents reduce the surface tension of water and add unwanted nutrients such as phosphates to water. This accelerates the growth of algae and reduces the amount of oxygen available for aquatic life.
Another example is paint. When drying, it releases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that cause the formation of a ground-level ozone layer that is harmful to human health.
To reduce these effects and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, choose low VOC paints or recycled water-based paints, and use eco-friendly detergents devoid of toxins and pollutants.
- Grow your own food
Is there a better way to be sure where your food comes from than to grow it yourself? If you have a garden or farm, this is one of the sustainable practices you could adopt. By growing your own produce, you know what you put into your soil and the methods you used to keep pests and weeds away.
Additionally, you can also use your kitchen wastes to make compost to use in your garden instead of synthetic fertilizers.
Once ready to harvest, there is no or minimal processing, and also no transportation required hence reducing your carbon footprint. Furthermore, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thus act as air cleaners.
If you have a bigger piece of land, consider planting trees too as another way to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. If you don’t have land, you can still help by making donations to tree planting charities.
Everyone has a responsibility to take care of the environment. We rely on it for sustenance, and it is up to us to make lifestyle changes and choices that help the planet. If everybody did their small part to make the planet a better place, we would leave it better than we found it and save it for future generations to enjoy the same privileges. Use the above 10 tips to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle and make your home greener.
In what ways do you help the planet? Have you adopted any of the above measures to live more sustainably?
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