Sustainable living, in short, is about curbing demand for our natural resources and decreasing the damage we cause to the environment in our everyday lives. Sustainability is a lifestyle choice and the responsibility of each and every one of us.
It’s not hard to see that our path and the strain that we as a collective are currently putting on our natural environment is not healthy for us or the earth. This movement is no longer about preaching and activism, it’s about taking action in your everyday life to slow and even stop the crises we are currently in.
Sustainable living has become a necessity not just a personal choice
Despite the denial of some groups, over the last few years, it has become clear through global warming, that we need to make swift changes to save our planet from the rapid downward spiral we are currently experiencing. Each change that we make, no matter how small, will contribute to a better world overall. So don’t feel that your contribution does not matter, every choice made matters.
Where we are now is an accumulation of our collective decision making and thought process. Our consumerism culture will need to shift quickly and drastically if we’d like to change our current trajectory.
The main areas to consider when looking at your own demand for the natural world is:
1. Your home and the sustainability of buildings
Depending on where you live, your home may need to be either insulated for winter warmth or built to be cool in hot weather. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to prepare for both scenarios, but not completely impossible.
When considering your overall impact on the environment, making sure that your home is as sustainable as possible in terms of energy use will help to reduce impact tremendously, especially if you live in an older building.
Remember to also think about the sustainability of buildings you may own as a landlord or business owner as these spaces are equally important.
2. Your purchase decisions and how it impacts the environment
The amount and quality of the products you buy impacts the environment during the production, transportation, active use and waste management phases. When considering the impact of your purchases, look at all the steps in the supply chain of the products you buy. This can be tough to navigate but there are many resources and bloggers make it their mission to help guide you through this process.
Generally only buying items that you really need and buying brands who consider the sustainability of their entire supply chain will make the most positive impact.
The fashion industry is one of the top polluters in today’s world. It contributes to pollution through vast overproduction that is either incinerated or ends up in landfill, the use of synthetic fibres adding microplastics to our oceans, the agricultural pollution of fashion-related crops and the air pollution during the transportation of goods. Fast fashion also creates an increased amount of demand through extensive advertising and cultural influencing and to top it all off many manufacturers treat and pay their workers poorly.
Related: What is Sustainable Fashion?
We’re great advocates of buying less, high quality, classic styles that will make you feel great season after season. It’s easier on the wallet and the planet.
Sustainable Food Choices
The food we eat not only has an impact on the environment but can greatly impact your own health in the long run.
Reducing the amount of meat in your diet and buying the best food you can afford, preferably organic and high welfare is really important. Buy as local to you as you possibly can and if you can grow some of your own food, that’s even better!
Sustainable Homeware and Furnishings
Homeware and furnishings generally are long term purchases, but still needs careful consideration. As much as I love the concept of IKEA, it’s best to buy things that you can use for many years. Think about the cost on the environment for producing, transporting and disposing of an item. Now that upcycling has become very popular you can make something new out of an old piece or purchase an upcycled item, the choices are really endless and will put a unique stamp on your home decor.
Sensible Appliance, Electronics and Gadget Shopping
When it comes to appliances, electronics and gadgets in the home, less and energy-efficient is more. There is a lot to consider in terms of the potentially negative impact throughout the entire lifecycle of the appliance.
Cruelty-free, Organic & Vegan Beauty and Self-care Products
Over the last few years, there has been an influx of cruelty-free, organic and vegan beauty products. These products are kinder to you and the environment. One of my favourite brands is Ren Skincare, who looks at their impact on you and the environment they work in.
Related: Sustainable Beauty Tips and Swaps
3. Sustainable Utilities
Many energy companies have green energy contract options, unfortunately, these are mostly still priced higher than mixed fuel but you can still find a good deal if you search for one.
Don’t forget to look at the small print when you are considering new energy suppliers to be sure they are as green as they’re saying. You can read more about how green your energy contract is here. I’m sure the advancement of renewable energy will accelerate rapidly over the next few years. You can definitely be excited about what the future holds in terms of renewable energy as it will help to reduce your footprint at home and work.
Included in utilities would, of course, be reducing water use in and around the home. A great way to reduce water use during the dry season is by installing a water butt like this if you have a garden so that you can collect rainwater to support supply during dryer months.
4. Transportation and Travel
Are you able to work from home more often or can you swap your car for an electric, bicycle and/or public transport? If so, that’s a great start as travel is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
The travel industry, especially long haul air travel is a big contributor to pollution, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t leave the country, there are definitely options for making your travel and holidays more sustainable.
Transportation of Goods we Buy
If you think about sustainable living, the basic principles will include buying as local to you as you can find, as that drastically reduces the impact of transportation. But things aren’t that clear cut as buying from carbon-heavy operations might be slightly worse than buying from eco-friendly operations further afield and visa versa so there is no sure-fire solution here. But researching the products you buy, where they come from and what the company’s policies are is a sensible start.
5. Waste Management
When it comes to waste management, it’s always better to minimise the waste you are creating in the first place. The best ways to manage waste effectively include:
- Reducing household waste by considering the packaging of all the products you buy, less plastic and less packaging is better
- Minimising single-use plastic as much as you can
- Recycling as many items that you can
Is Living a More Sustainable Life Obtainable?
The simple answer…
Of course, it is.
You can become more sustainable one step at a time, but you also need to challenge our favourite brands and support the pioneers who are doing things differently. If you’d like to become an active part of the conversation there are many Facebook groups or discussion forums that you can join to learn more.