What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living means understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us and finding ways for everyone to live better and lighter. It is often called “earth harmony living” or “net zero living.”
Applying a ‘people lens’ to sustainability is new, timely and the opportunities are great. Sustainable living and lifestyles for the first time appear in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4-quality education and SDG12-responsible consumption).
Sustainable living helps protect the environment and reduce wastefulness. *Sustainability is meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Living sustainably is an important practice for saving the environment and using our resources efficiently. Whether people are zero waste or just getting started, your individual practices can make a difference.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Familiarise yourself with the 5 R’s of zero waste. In the context of zero waste, they apply to product consumption and disposal.
- Refuse what you do not need
- Reduce what you do need
- Reuse by repurposing stuff and choosing reusable over disposable
- Recycle what you cannot refuse, reduce or reuse
- Rot (compost) the rest
2. Ditch driving once in a while. Changing your mode of transportation to something more eco-friendly, like walking and biking, saves a ton of car emissions from pouring into the atmosphere (plus it’ll save you money at the gas pump). If your commute is too long for human-powered transportation, opt for public transport or try carpooling.
3. Be conscious of water use. There are tons of effortless ways you can cut back on water consumption. Reduce the number of times you flush the toilet (if it’s yellow, let it mellow!) Wear your clothes until they’re actually dirty so you can do laundry less. Stop letting the water run while you brush your teeth. Cut back on those therapeutic hour showers. Water your lawn less often.
4. Start composting! People send a ridiculous amount of food waste to the landfill each year and most of this waste is compostable. So, rather than send them to the landfill where they’ll decompose anaerobically and produce methane gas (the most powerful of the greenhouse gases), turn your food waste into something beneficial for the planet. Space is no excuse: you can even compost in your own apartment.
5. Consume less stuff more thoughtfully. While not entirely necessary to be taken to extremes, being more minimalist can help achieve a more sustainable life. Buying less is less wasteful for the consumer and promotes less waste and industry emissions by the manufacturer. Adopt a “need over want” mindset. If you do need something, buy second hand first! Go thrifting, hit up garage sales, or scour Facebook marketplace. Focus on sustainable fashion (like opting for online thrift stores or clothing rental online) and ethical jewellery, for example.
6. Shop local rather than ordering online or buying from big box stores. Consider how far something must be shipped before you support it. By buying locally, you’re not only supporting your local economy and smaller businesses, but you’re casting a vote against a world practically choking on shipping emissions. If you do buy online, support ethical online stores.