In an era marked by climate change and environmental degradation, adopting sustainable living practices has become not just a lifestyle choice but a necessity. The choices we make in our daily lives can have a profound impact on the environment. Of course there are always larger societal changes that can be made at a systemic level; however, real change can also happen within each of us. By adopting sustainable living habits, we can reduce our ecological footprint and contribute to a healthier planet.
Start at the beginning: The 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The classic mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” remains a cornerstone of sustainable living. Reducing waste by being mindful of what we purchase, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling materials like paper, glass, and plastic can significantly decrease the strain on natural resources and reduce landfill waste. While we love a reusable canvas tote bag, we are not immune to plastic bags in our household. Rather than seeing that as wasteful, take the “reuse” approach and use your plastic bags for storage or as trash can liners. There are always ways we can reuse the waste that has already occurred in the environment so we can minimize where we can.
Use Alternative Methods of Transportation
One of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions is the use of personal vehicles powered by fossil fuels. Embracing alternative transportation methods such as biking, walking, carpooling, and using public transportation can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid cars are excellent choices for those who need a personal vehicle (and can sometimes qualify for tax incentives, which is an added bonus).
If you live in a walking city, it can be much easier to rely on these alternative methods but even if you don’t, are there ways you can challenge yourself to minimize your impact without sacrificing the convenience of driving? Can you be more efficient with the routes you take? Can you create a challenge and identify a walking radius in your life such that if you can go run an errand that is less than a mile away from you you will walk or ride a bike instead of drive?
Choose Sustainable Food Options
The food we consume has a considerable impact on the environment. Opting for locally sourced and organic foods reduces the energy required for transportation and the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. Reducing food waste by planning meals and composting uneaten food and food scraps for use as fertilizer is also an effective way in creating a cyclical relationship with the Earth.
Educate Yourself and Advocate Within Your Community
Knowledge is power. Sometimes we all get stuck in old habits and don’t even know it. One of the most effective ways to promote sustainable living is to look at your own life and make small changes and inform others of the changes you’ve made. Leading by example and sharing that with others can be more powerful than you even recognize.
Support Sustainable Businesses
Supporting businesses and products that are committed to sustainability is a powerful way to make a difference. Look for companies that follow eco-friendly practices and produce goods using renewable materials. Choosing products with eco-labels, such as Energy Star or Fair Trade, can also ensure that your purchases are environmentally responsible. Furthermore, doing research into seeing which companies are Certified B Corp is another classification that meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Unlike traditional corporations, B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Companies such as All Birds, Athleta, and TOMS, to name a few have all passed this highly coveted classification.
Sustainable living is a responsible way of life that can help protect our environment for future generations. Every small action counts, whether it is going paperless, Uber pooling with friends in one car, walking more than driving, collectively, our efforts can lead to significant positive change. Embrace sustainable living and be part of the solution to environmental challenges.