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Sustainable Living: 12 Actionable Ways For Everyone!

A graphic about a sustainable home
Image by MakeBreadAU via Flickr Commons

We boldly act like everything here on earth is unlimited. We always do everything in our power to get all the resources that we want. The gruesome truth is, Earth’s resources are finite, and we can’t change that. All the things we enjoy right now- food, water, clean air, land, and everything else can’t go on forever.

We are fully dependent on this planet for our survival. In order for us humans to live, we constantly extract resources to support our lifestyles. In the past, the level of human consumption was not a problem because our ancestors knew their limitations, they live in and respect it through sustainable living, and however, things are very different now.

Image by The Ratfiles via Flickr

This modern world is unquestionably all about overconsumption. As the human population increases up to billions, the demand for resources also increases exponentially to support this race. All over the world, the populace constantly demands resources for food, clothing, shelter, and enjoyable things. The problem here is that the way we consume isn’t sustainable. We ask more, more and more from this planet, which’s quickly drying up of resources.This is an unfortunate effect of capitalism, which saw growth from the West to the developing nations.

Climate change continues to worsen since it was first noted as “global warming” by scientists in the 1890s. Under increasing pressure, our world reacts with unpredictable weather systems such as cataclysmic disasters, loss of water in towns, and sinking islands. This signals the urgent need to shift to a lifestyle that sustains both humankind and Earth. Thus, humans need to practice sustainable living.

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Sustainable living is a lifestyle geared towards reducing the use of Earth’s natural resources. People who choose this lifestyle live more simply. They do everything with minimal impact to Mother Nature as possible. Going green for them means more than trash or cleanliness. Rather, they save as many resources as they can. From money to energy, they choose every action based on its potential impact on others and the environment.

Why is Sustainable Living Urgent?

July 29 is Earth Overshoot Day. This is the day scientists estimated as the time that humans consumed the full amount of annual allocation of Earth’s natural resources. According to the Global Footprint Network, this growing deficit of natural resources proves a severe problem to Earth-dwellers. We are now at the edge of a precipice. If we can’t shift to sustainable living, then soon Earth will rebalance its mechanisms through a cataclysmic event. The shreds of evidence are the meteor that struck the dinosaurs into extinction, the Ice Age, the mysterious calamity that expunged the existence of Neanderthals. Everything has the possibility to happen again.

Earth has taken millions of years to evolve to a habitable environment.  Sadly, humans created a lifestyle that damaged this environment in just a few decades. Scientists already banged the alarm of global warming since 1896.  Firstly, they already warned about the greenhouse gases (chlorofluorocarbons)but humankind doesn’t seem to be bothered. They did not pay attention, moreover, didn’t do any necessary actions to solve this dilemma. So, it isn’t a surprise now that nature showed that she had enough.

These greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane) are to be blamed for the continuous heating up of the planet. As they continue to shoot up, the planet’s temperature also increases, and this led to a swathe of natural disasters. Hurricanes, storms, and tornadoes devastated communities at unforeseen levels. Lands dried up from prolonged droughts. Wildfires spread faster and lasted longer than ever. Antarctic glaciers melt too fast that they cause seas to rise to the surface. Island nations and coastal communities keep sinking until the sea engulfs them like Atlantis. Worse, abnormally hot oceans cause bleached corals that threaten the survival of marine species and the planetary ecosystem.

15 Ways You can Live Sustainably

Sustainable living encompasses a variety of lifestyle changes. If you choose to live sustainably, you need to be ready to change your way of life. It will be difficult, but it will be fulfilling to know that you’ll take care of the planet Earth which your children and theirs can enjoy. Here are twelve ways I recommend for any beginner in sustainable living.

1. Go zero waste.

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Being tactful with your waste is the first step towards sustainable living. We can scrutinize our consumption by inspecting our trash. To start, schedule a time to sort your trash. The more trash you pick up, the more you’ll realize the tragic wastefulness of your life. All that convenient sachet and disposable may send shivers to your spine. After, think about where these may go. It may injure animals, clog waterways, and pollute the environment.

Once you know what and where your waste is, think of reducing as much waste as possible. Shift to a zero-waste lifestyle. Going zero waste makes you less wasteful and more thoughtful to the environment.

2. Be a minimalist.

If shifting to a zero-waste lifestyle is too much for you, at least choose to buy less stuff and live more simply. Always remember that your life does not revolve around your belongings. Instead, focus more on enriching your relationships. Prioritize your essentials. Practice minimalism. Whether you follow Marie Kondo or The Minimalists, what matters most is your understanding of your own happiness and fulfillment.

Don’t be swayed by the dictations of companies and society, buy only what you need. Sales, bargains, and deals? The real question is, do you really need to buy that stuff? If you give in, you did not save money, rather you spent money. Choose to reduce the times you buy stuff so you can prioritize your funds and energies into the most important aspects of your life. Being a minimalist will lead you to sustainable living because it shows you how to reconnect with nature more than the material stuff. In other words, to be a minimalist is to live most simply and most sustainably with the environment

3. Eat less meat.

Animals bred for food cause environmental damage as much as the manufacturing sector of any economy. Since the population shoots up faster than ever, the demand for more meat means industries also need more land to be cleared, thus more part of nature needs to be sacrifice.  Worse, animals such as cattle, poultry, and pigs contribute a real problem as they need as many resources as humans. Therefore depleting the finite resources twice as much.

The worst-case scenario lies in our seafood. Over-fishing damages the marine ecosystem, and this has caused other species to slowly become extinct.  Aside from this, the most alarming is that waste pollution made its way into the ocean. Since marine animals unknowingly eat them, upon consumption, we also ingest the harmful microplastics into our bodies. The more humans demand food in meaty products, the more precarious it is.

First, animal production also competes with human needs in terms of using our resources. Since the rate of consumption doubled, the more threatening it is. Second, the methane released by animals (mostly via farts and burps) worsens the heating of the planet. Lastly, it is also risky for humans to eat meat because of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria due to the overuse of medicine for animals by farmers. Overall, choosing to eat less meat will go a long way to creating a sustainable lifestyle. Not only you saved more money, you also help save the environment.

4. Go vegan.

Skip meat altogether? Can you do it? If you can, you will find shifting to sustainable living easier. Veganism is a plant-based diet. Because it’s plant-based, it requires fewer resources to grow and distribute. It also helps to preserve the environment. Plants help produce more clean air. They also help protect the natural water supply of the planet.

5. Choose to buy from sustainable sources.

Whatever you choose to buy, think of where it came from. Consider the full effect of materials, production, distribution, and usage of every item. Most importantly, discern whether it benefits the planet or just humans. Sustainable living involves examining the way you buy.

Be mindful of where you buy. Check whether its materials are recycled. Find energy-efficient and water-efficient products and services. Avoid those with toxic or hazardous chemicals. Buy durable and long-lasting things. Most importantly, get only what’s necessary.

6. Drive less.

Vehicles contribute a large percentage of air pollution. Their smoke also harms people’s health. These health effects include cardiac diseases, asthma, and lung degradation. Here you can choose to live more sustainably by changing your mobility options.

You can walk, ride a bicycle, commute via buses, trains, and other public transportation or you can use ride-sharing systems such as carpooling. These mobilities effectively cuts-off emissions of smoke that cause air pollution.

7. Conserve energy.

Make sustainable homes by consuming less energy. This will also earn you great savings. And shifting to renewables increases the value of your real estate. Here you show that you keep up your home’s structure and keep it to last for other generations.

8. Recycle better.

Improper recycling possesses more harm. Learn what’s recyclable and what’s not. Then separate those things carefully. Next, clean out all recyclables to preserve the quality of materials.

Be inspired by this Japanese town‘s hyper-efficient recycling system. For products that your city cannot recycle, go the extra mile. Send them to companies like Terra Cycle. They can recycle the products that most recyclers refuse.

If you prefer a more affordable option, upcycle goods yourself. Go to Pinterest. There you’ll find guides and recipes on how to turn trash into treasures. Even more, you can expand this habit into a profitable business. Always look for ways to reuse products.

9. Be more self-reliant.

Learn to do things on your own. DIY is your best friend when it comes to sustainable living. Cook your own food. Repair your own things. Grow a garden in your indoor spaces or in your backyards. The less you depend on others, the less you consume resources. But also remember that you cannot do everything on your own. Know your own limits. Learn and do as much processes as you can. Then go from there.

10. Buy used than new.

Instead of getting new products, choose those that have already aged into the manufacturing cycle. Shop secondhand. This will save in many levels. First, it saves resources that go into producing new stuff. Second, it saves money since used always costs less than new. Lastly, this gives stuff a new life and diverts them from landfills.

11. Entertain by low impact activities.

Set aside traveling, you can choose a staycation. Find entertainment options that have low impact on resources. Want to go barhopping? Curl up in bed with a good book instead. Fancy the movies? Enjoy the picturesque scenery of nature such as mountains, rivers, forests, and falls.

12. Volunteer.

Be selfless with your time and energy. To create a huge impact on environmental issues, get involved. Find non-profit organizations, charities, and agencies that foster care for the environment. Share your time and skills to worthwhile causes such as animal welfare and protection of lands. Here you will find the best way you practice sustainable living. Because there is something worth fighting for in this planet.

Conclusion

Sustainable living is not impossible, but truly it is challenging. It might be a drastic change to your lifestyle, but it is necessary. You cannot continue living YOLO. Rather, think of the environment you live in. Remember that whatever happens to Earth affects you and vice-versa, it’s like a boomerang.

It’s not too late. Choose any of the twelve lifestyle changes to help re-balance Earth. Every effort counts in our quest to save the future. An effort is way better than no effort at all.

We only have one planet to live on. Forget about investigating life on Mars. Always live with respect to our environment. Choose to live sustainably. It’s our duty as stewards of nature. Ultimately, sustainable living is the only way to make sure the survival of both the human race and Earth itself.

What do you think?

Written by Moderator

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  1. I do my part at work almost daily. I work in a Cemetery and the amount of plants and flowers purchased and laid on the monuments is a huge amount. I toss all flowers and potted dirt into a pile in the back of the forest instead of putting it in the garbage.

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