New year, new lifestyle: easy ways to be sustainable in everyday life
Feeling the urge to go a little bit more green? Aren’t we all. Every day, more and more of us are becoming concerned about our impact on the environment and what we can do personally to improve it.
The good news is, change doesn’t have to be difficult. By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can live more sustainably and help improve the health of our planet, without needing to drastically change your life.
Join the green team
Living sustainably means living in a way that conserves the earth’s resources today so that there will be supplies tomorrow. It means making sure that there is a world for future generations to inherit, instead of an all-encompassing landfill. But don’t worry, by simply making smarter choices about how you consume and what you consume, you can live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. And you don’t only have to live only on seeds and kale.
Support local business
All the food sourced from local supermarkets has come from somewhere and normally, that ‘somewhere’ isn’t close by. One easy way to be a little more sustainable is to start buying your weekly shop from local suppliers instead. By choosing to buy your food from independent shops and markets, you’ll not only be supporting local businesses but reducing how far your food has to travel and the carbon footprint that results from this. Less transportation means less pollution negatively affecting the environment and wildlife. Also, your food is more likely to be fresher, as it’s normally sold within 24 hours of being picked. Supermarket fruit and veg on the other hand, can be preserved for months at a time through controlled atmosphere storage.
It’s become a bit of a buzz word so what is organic food all about? Well, it’s food that has been produced or grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, manufactured herbicides or artificial fertilisers. And this is a good thing! These chemicals aren’t great for us, wildlife or the environment as a whole. By making the switch to organic produce, you’ll not only have a healthier diet, but also reduce your environmental impact as you’ll be helping to reduce the number of chemicals and preservatives used to make your food. (These get into habitats and food chains elsewhere and they’re not healthy for anyone.)
A new way of eating
If you’re wanting to go one step further than simply converting to the wonderfulness of organic food, take a step back and have a look at what you eat and what you could cut out. Simple switches such as reducing your meat intake and buying less processed food can go a long way to helping the environment.
If you aren’t wanting to cut out any foodstuffs from your diet, simple changes such as cooking your meals from scratch instead of using shop-bought sauces can be a step in the right direction. As is making sure to use up as much food as possible before heading to the shop to buy more. This will reduce how much perfectly good food you throw away and waste.
Transport is a major culprit in causing pollution and damage to the environment. So why not start by trying to travel in ways that are more environmentally-friendly and often more cost effective for you. Reduce how much you rely on transport by walking, cycling or running to your destination. If it’s too far to travel on foot, try to take public transport as much as possible, or car share to reduce the number of vehicles used to transport the same number of people.
Make smart swaps
If you haven’t already jumped on the reusable bandwagon, get yourself a reusable coffee cup, straw, water bottle, cutlery and anything else that you frequently throw away. Use canvas bags instead of plastic bags when you go shopping. Buy food that’s sold with no plastic packaging. Use washable cotton pads and muslin facecloths to clean your skin instead of throwing away disposable makeup wipes and cotton pads. Switch to beauty products that are sold in recyclable containers (and recycle them once you’ve finished with them). Need we go on?
Simple changes like these will significantly reduce how much waste you produce and resources you use up on a regular basis.
A green wardrobe
Not literally a green wardrobe, unless that is the kind of interior design aesthetic you’re going for. Instead, it’s time to turn your apparel a bit more eco-friendly. Second to the oil industry, the fashion world is the largest polluter in the world. We live in a society that promotes fast, throwaway fashion, with the average person throwing away 70 pounds of clothing and shoes annually. While the majority of the clothes that we throw away could be recycled, few of us actively do it, with the majority still being sent to clog up landfills. And that’s not all –– the process of creating the latest fashions is not that green either. From the pesticides used in farming to the toxic dyes used in textile manufacturing, to the obscene amount of waste discarded while making the clothes — the fashion industry is not what you would call a green industry.
Slow is the way to go
It’s all well and good changing your eating habits, but if you are wanting to make a real impact on your carbon footprint, it might be time to shake up your shopping habits too. But don’t worry, these changes don’t have to be drastic. We all need to change the West's love affair with disposable fashion and get on the slow fashion train instead. How you ask? Start by investing in clothes that are made from higher-quality, more sustainable fabrics that use up fewer resources to make. Develop a core wardrobe that you can keep year on year, instead of buying into each new trend. Look after your clothing so that they last and do not need to be replaced every year (which includes finally learning what all those washing symbols mean). Buy your apparel from local shops and businesses to reduce the pollution caused by transportation. Simple changes like this will reduce how much your retail therapy affects the environment.
Going green wins the day
Going eco-friendly doesn’t have to be complex. Often we can be unaware of how much we throw away, and how easy it is to switch to more eco products. By making simple switches to smarter choices, you can make a significant difference in the world without having to completely change how you live. And as soon as a few of us start to, our positive impact becomes even larger collectively.
Who knew going green could be so easy?