Living Sustainably is one of the most natural things in the world. It simply means to consume only, and no more, of what the earth can naturally replenish.
Think about your bank account. If you spend more money than you earn each month, eventually you are going to be in big trouble with the bank. You can overdraw every now and then and pay it back in a week or two without too much trauma. But keep overspending long term, and you’ll soon find yourself with deep financial problems—often taking years to recover. The fact that humans have been ‘overspending’ the earth’s resources is not new or controversial information. Climate change, overflowing landfills, deforestation…the data is daunting. You don’t need me to convince you that people need to change their environmental ‘spending’ habits. Let’s just move forward and look for solutions. We got ourselves into this mess, we can get ourselves out of it.
To live sustainably means to consider all aspects of our lives, and the choices we make, including food, housing, recreation, travel, and energy consumption. Everyday we make choices of how to live and what to purchase. These choices are either in harmony with the earth or deplete the earth’s resources.
Sustainable living strives to examine not only ecological principles, but also economic impacts and the overall health of a society. All people should be able to live within the ecological balance of the earth, maintain economic stability and live a happy and fulfilling life. Without equally maintaining a focus on all three of these key pillars (environment, economy, society) we will never reach long term sustainable environmental solutions. To live ‘green’ shouldn’t mean one has to spend a fortune on hip and trendy products. Likewise, living ‘green’ shouldn’t mean deprivation and sacrifice. Those that follow a sustainable lifestyle are living proof that you can ‘have it all’- a healthy planet, prosperity and happiness. With a bit of education, planning, and a heartfelt willingness to change past habits in search of a better tomorrow, we can all enjoy a healthy planet today and for future generations.
Here are a Few Examples of Sustainable Lifestyle Choices
- Drive a car for ten years instead of five
- Shop second hand shops
- Buy quality and use it for years
- Be happy with less
- Recycle all materials possible
- Compost plant materials
- Shop with reusable bags
- Reuse items many times before discarding
- Repurpose items
- Only purchase items packaged in recyclable materials
- Plan weekly menus to purchase just the right amount of food
- Eliminate use of pesticides
- Make your own nontoxic cleaners
- Choose a diet of predominantly fruits and vegetables
- Choose foods with little to no processing
- Grow an organic garden on empty land around your house or in pots on a patio.
Lower Your Carbon Footprint
- Purchase food that is locally grown and not packaged in plastic
- Actively reduce energy consumption by walking, riding a bike or taking mass transport.
- Consider energy use when purchasing appliances or cars. Follow all manufacturer guidelines to minimize energy use.
- Use a laundry line to air dry clothes
- Plant trees whenever and wherever possible
The trick to successfully transitioning to a sustainable lifestyle is to change one behavior at a time. This journey is not a straight line to success, but rather a curving trail with mountains and valleys all along the way. Make a conscientious effort, do your best and strive to do a little bit better each day. Don’t strive for perfection and end up living in guilt. Focus on the positive and celebrate your successes!
Here’s a few concrete ideas to get you started
- Research the closest farmer’s market to you, plan a menu for the week, and then commit to visit each week for the next month. Shopping at a farmers market is so much more fun than the grocery store and you are financially supporting local farmers.
- Organize reusable shopping bags and always put them back in the car, ready for the next shopping trip. If an average family uses 10 plastic shopping bags a week at the grocery store, that’s 520 bags a year or 5,200 bags a decade. Plastic bags can take hundreds of years to degrade in a landfill. They don’t actually decompose as plastic breaks apart into tiny particles that stay in the environment. Plastic does not decompose into soil as fruits and vegetables do when composted.
- Use up all your liquid shampoo in plastic bottles and then try out shampoo bars. They are just like a bar of soap, but formulated for hair. They last forever, work great and don’t contribute to plastic consumption. I buy mine from Lush.
- Plant a decorative or unused part of your outdoor space with favorite vegetables.
- Reuse unsalted water from rice, pasta, vegetables, etc. to water all your house or garden plants.
- Start a compost bin and turn all your plant waste into amazing soil for your garden—for free! Click this link where we explain how to start composting at home.
These are just a few ideas!
Excited to get started, or add even more sustainable practices to your daily life?
Check back in on a regular basis as we search the globe for sustainable ideas
for a healthy and happy future.